How many watts does a fridge use? (monthly and yearly costs)

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A refrigerator is one of the most essential appliances in your home. However, keeping your food cold and fresh requires a lot of energy, leading to hefty power bills. 

Today we will show you how many watts the average refrigerator uses, along with how to calculate your own refrigerator’s wattage. We will also give you some energy usage tips to help lower your power bill.

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    Key takeaways

    • The average refrigerator only operates at full power one-third of the time.
    • To calculate a fridge’s energy usage, divide its wattage by 3.
    • A typical home refrigerator uses 4 kWh of electricity a day.
    • Energy star appliances can save 10-50% on electricity costs.
    • Solar panels can notably reduce or even eliminate your electricity bills.

    How many watts does an average refrigerator use?

    The typical home refrigerator uses 500 watts of electricity. In terms of energy usage, that translates to 1460 kilowatt-hours each year, meaning the average American household spends $206 a year powering their fridge.

    An average unit has an electrical rating of 500 watts, although it's common to find fridges that use anywhere between 300 and 700 watts of power. 

    Your refrigerator’s electrical rating - also known as the appliance’s wattage - tells you how much energy the appliance uses when operating at full power. 

    However, fridges cycle on and off throughout the day. This is because the compressor inside a fridge only switches on when it is required to cool down the internal temperature. 

    As a rule of thumb, refrigerators are only ‘on’ one-third of the time. 

    That means to find a fridge’s true power usage, you have to divide its wattage by one-third (1/3).

    Bear in mind that your refrigerator’s wattage will vary based on its size and age. Furthermore, its power usage will be affected by factors such as the kitchen’s ambient temperature, and even by how long you keep the door open. 

    Easy methods to calculate your refrigerator's wattage and power usage

    There are two different ways to calculate your refrigerator’s wattage and power usage. Use whichever method works best for you, based on the information available on your fridge.

    Method 1: Using your refrigerator’s volts and amps sticker

    The easiest way to calculate your refrigerator's wattage and power usage, is to look for a sticker inside your fridge that shows you how many volts and amps your unit uses when running.

    Simply do the calculation volts x amps, and that will tell how much power your fridge uses when running. This is known as the appliance’s electrical rating or wattage. 

    However, as mentioned before, refrigerators cycle on and off throughout the day. So to get the average power usage for your unit, you will need to divide its wattage by 1/3.

    Let’s take the example of a refrigerator with a sticker rating of 115 volts (V) and 4.5 amps (A):

    115 volts (V)  x 4.5 amps (A)
    = 517.5 watts (wattage)
    517.5 watts divided by 3
     = 172.5 watts (average power usage)

    To see how much power your fridge uses in a day and year: 

    172.5 watts x 24 (hours in a day) 
    = 4,140 watt-hours, or 4.14 kilowatt-hours (daily power usage)
    4.14 kilowatt-hours x 365 (days in a year)
    = 1,511 kilowatt-hours (annual power usage)

    Now you have your yearly power usage. For your monthly usage divide the yearly usage by 12.

    Refrigerator sticker electrical info

    Method 2: Using your refrigerator’s energy guide sticker

    All electrical appliances are required to have a yellow energy guide sticker. The handy thing about this sticker is that it shows you how much power the appliance uses in a year, along with an estimated yearly running cost.

    To calculate the wattage for your fridge: 

    Divide the energy guide yearly power usage by 365 (a year). That will give you the daily power usage. 

    To finish off, simply divide the daily energy usage by 24 (hours in a day).

    Now you have the average hourly energy usage, to get the wattage multiply the hourly energy usage by 3.

    As an example, let’s do the math for a fridge that has an estimated yearly running cost of 630 kilowatt-hours a year: 

    630 kilowatt-hours (kWh) x 1000*
    = 630,000 watts (W) divided by 365 
    = 986 watts divided by 24
    = 41 watts (average power usage) multiplied by 3
    = 123 watts (wattage)

    *We divide the kilowatt-hour figure by 1000 to express the number in terms of watts. 1 kilowatt = 1000 watts.

    Appliance energy guide sticker

    Image adapted from Federal Trade Commission 

    How much does it cost to power your refrigerator?

    The cost to power a refrigerator will depend on how much your utility company charges for electricity. 

    However, by using up-to-date average state utility prices, it’s possible to estimate how much it costs to power a fridge across the country in 2022. The table below shows both monthly and yearly cost data for select states. 

    Electricity costs for an average 500-watt fridge, based on up-to-date utility power rates
    State Avg. electricity rate (per kWh) Fridge monthly cost Fridge yearly cost
    California 23.76¢ $28.90 $346.90
    Texas 12.81¢ $15.60 $187.00
    Florida 12.60¢ $15.30 $184.00
    New York 20.04¢ $24.40 $292.60
    Pennsylvania 14.17¢ $17.20 $206.90
    Illinois 14.39¢ $15.50 $210.10
    Ohio 13.02¢ $15.80 $190.10
    Georgia 13.02¢ $15.00 $180.20
    North Carolina 11.60¢ $14.10 $169.40
    Michigan 17.62¢ $21.40 $257.30
    U.S. Average 14.12¢ $17.20 $206.20

    *500 watt fridge has an average power usage of 187 watts

    It’s easy to work out how much it costs to power your refrigerator.

    Simply multiply your fridge's yearly power usage, measured in kilowatt-hours, by the amount your local utility company charges for electricity. 

    To convert the number from cents to dollars, divide that number by 100. This will tell you how much you spend a year to power your refrigerator. 

    Divide by 12 to get your fridge's monthly power costs.

    (A recent power bill will tell you how much you pay per kWh of electricity for your home.  If not, the table above has the US average electricity price, along with the average cost in certain states.)

    How can you lower your refrigerator’s energy consumption?

    The way you use your refrigerator affects how much electricity it consumes over time. To reduce your fridge’s energy consumption - and thus lower your power bill - use these tips.

    1. Clean your coils

    Cleaning the coils on your fridge goes a long way in increasing your fridge's energy efficiency and lifespan. By keeping your coils clean you allow them to remove the warm air more efficiently,  which means they need to do less work to keep the inside of your fridge cold.

    2. Make sure your door seals aren't broken

    A broken door seal will allow cold air to escape from your fridge. Your unit will then have to work extra hard to stay at the optimal temperature. Not only will this add to your power cost, it also means your fridge might not be able to maintain a safe temperature for your groceries.

    How many watts does a mini fridge use?

    An average mini fridge uses 90 watts of electricity. In regards to power usage, that translates to around 263-kilowatt hours a year, meaning the average US mini-fridge owner spends $37 a year powering their unit.

    Power usage will differ depending on the age, size and brand. If you want to calculate the wattage and power usage for your own mini-fridge the calculations methods above work the same.

    How much energy do other appliances use in the home?

    Refrigerators use a significant amount of energy, but there are other appliances in your house you should look out for in regards to power consumption. 

    Here is a table showing which appliances consume the most energy in an average residential home.

    Each appliance's share of overall home energy usage
    Appliance Energy usage
    Space heating 43%
    Water heating 19%
    Air conditioning 8%
    Lighting 5%
    Refrigeration 3%
    All others 21%
    Source: EIA

    How do I reduce or even eliminate my power bill?

    If you’re on this page, it’s probably because you’re concerned about your energy costs. 

    The best way to reduce or even eliminate your power bill is by installing solar panels.

    To find out how much solar panels could save you on power costs, use our solar calculator. It will tell you how many solar panels you need, recommended system size, and estimated saving over 25 years.

    Another unique feature about the calculator is that it gives you the dollar value of solar tax credits depending on where you live.

    It will also show you your monthly electricity bill after solar, along with some really cool solar generation and usage stats in an easy to understand graph.

    If you are interested, after seeing your results you can choose to receive quotes from 1-4 solar installers.

    Find out how much a solar system would cost for your specific home

    What size solar battery do I need to back up a fridge?

    When the grid is down, having a solar battery is very valuable. By keeping your fridge up and running, a solar battery can save hundreds of dollars in groceries from spoiling and needing to be tossed in the bin. 

    Top solar battery solutions such as the Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem each have 10+ kWhs of battery storage. The average refrigerator uses 4 kWh a day, so most batteries would be able to keep your fridge running for a long period of time. 

    The exact amount of time your fridge can run on battery backup will largely depend on what other appliances you are using when the power goes out. Many people set up their batteries to only power ‘critical loads’, such as your lights, power outlets and even your fridge. This ensures you can keep your essentials running even in the event of an extended outage. 

    Calculate what size solar battery would be best for your home
     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Oliver Sendy

    SolarReviews Blog Author

    Oliver is very passionate about the solar industry. He loves that solar is great for the environment but is also an excellent investment. He has gained hands-on experience working for a solar installation company, which informs his writing about solar.

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