Refrigerator Replacement - New Savings Opportunity for Weatherization Providers

Refrigerators use lots of energy. The older the fridge, the more energy it will likely use. For many low-income households, the refrigerator represents the biggest power consumer and best opportunity for electrical energy savings.

New DOE Standards

The new DOE Weatherization standards encourage Wx Providers to consider reducing baseload electric usage, such as refrigerators and lighting.

WAP Experience

NY State WAP, through a DOE approved pilot project, found refrigerator replacement “highly cost effective” for their clients (see NYS WAP 1999 State Plan for details).

Savings that can be Measured

From the results of several large refrigerator replacement projects by the Chicago and New York Housing Authorities, who have replaced thousands of refrigerators, the opportunity for cost-effective savings is proven. The Chicago Housing Authority found the typical payback period for replacing the average refrigerator with a new energy efficient model was about 7 years. Paybacks for replacing only the worst 10% of existing refrigerators were a little over 4 years.

The New York Housing Authority found similar savings in their replacement program: “Typically, the refrigerators found in most public housing apartments consume between 1,000 and 1,300-kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year. The Maytag replacement units consume less than 500 kWh per year. Also the new 15-cubic foot Maytag refrigerators replace units with an average age of more than 15 years.”

Super Efficient Replacements

Obviously, the cornerstone of making a refrigerator replacement program work is finding a new affordable energy efficient refrigerator. GOOD NEWS! The Consortium For Energy Efficiency has established an agreement with the Dept. of HUD to administer a nationwide bulk purchasing program called: SEAR – The Super-Efficient Apartment-Sized Refrigerator Initiative . This bulk purchasing program is available to all Wx providers, housing authorities, and utilities.

Procurement requirements are Covered

The New York Power Authority initiated the bulk purchasing and has enabled other purchasers to “piggy-back” onto its order—all federal procurement requirements are met. Currently, your agency can purchase super-efficient Magic Chef 15 cu.ft. refrigerators for approximately $320. A larger 18.5 cu.ft. model is also available for a slightly higher cost. For more information on the SEAR Initiative, contact Melissa Lucas at or 617-589-3949.

Measure Usage

To maximize your savings, find a simple way to identify the energy-guzzling refrigerators. Not all older refrigerators will be cost-effective to replace, nor can you be assured a newer refrigerator is operating efficiently without measuring the energy usage.

We think the Brand Digital Power Meter offers Wx assessors a simple and accurate method of assuring success. Product info and order forms are enclosed.