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Fridges lose their Energy Star

LG LMX25981ST
LG-LMX25981ST

For the first time, some refrigerators have been suspended from the federal Energy Star program, under a November 2008 agreement between South Korean manufacturer LG and the Department of Energy.

Made by LG and sold under the LG and Kenmore Trio brands, 22 French-door models with through-the-door ice and water dispensers consume too much energy to qualify for Energy Star, an issue brought to light by recent Consumer Reports articles about some Energy Star appliances. Energy Star refrigerators must use at least 20 percent less electricity than the maximum allowed under the DOE standard, but one model we reported on currently consumes 23 percent more than the DOE maximum.

We reported in "Energy Star Has Lost Some Luster" (October 2008) and "French-Door Folly" (January 2009) that some LG models and a Kenmore model made by LG used significantly more energy than stated on their yellow EnergyGuide label.In DOE tests, the icemaker is turned off. But in the LG-made models, that also shuts off cooling to the ice compartment, an unrealistic use.

As part of an agreement with the DOE, LG and Sears will replace a circuit board on all suspended models, such as the one at left. The fix is free and should reduce energy consumption to a few percent below the DOE maximum.

LG will also reimburse owners of those refrigerators about $41 as compensation for the discrepancy for all past energy use and around $7 each year thereafter for the appliance's expected 14-year life span. Go to www.lgrefrigeratoroffer.com or call 888-848-1266 for more details on the LG and Sears models. Five of the LG models have been discontinued.

The DOE is planning to verify the efficiency of similar French-door models made by other manufacturers.

Posted: January 2009 — Consumer Reports Magazine issue: February 2009