Refrigerators

Even as efficiency gains, energy issue remains

Last reviewed: May 2010
Project leader Joseph Pacella setting the temperature on the GE GSH25JFX
Tap into savings
Project leader Joseph Pacella sets the temperature on the GE GSH25JFX, $1,000, which is more efficient than its predecessor.
Photograph by Michael Smith

The best models among the 116 refrigerators in our latest report earn an appliance triple crown, thanks to their reasonable price tags, noteworthy overall performance, and superior energy efficiency. With appliance rebates going strong, now could be the right time to replace your old energy hog with one of our top picks.

Efficiency climbs

Manufacturers are offering more energy-saving refrigerators without jacking up the prices. The GE GSH25JFX[WW], $1,000 (shown to the right), is one of the least expensive side-by-sides in our Ratings (available to subscribers) and among the most efficient. GE credits a high-efficiency motor and vacuum-insulated panels for that model's stingy energy use.

Innovative compressors are pumping up efficiency. The Samsung RF266AE[WP] bottom-freezer, $1,500, gets a high mark for efficiency partly because of its variable-speed compressor, and an optimized compressor raises the efficiency of the Whirlpool Gold G9RXXFMW[Q] top-freezer, $820.

But not every refrigerator in this report is an energy all-star. Our tough tests reveal that some might use more electricity than other comparable models. (See "Energy matters," which is available to subscribers.)

Rebates are in effect

The Department of Energy's State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program provides rebates of generally $75 to $250 for refrigerators that are at least Energy Star qualified. Energy Star units are footnoted in the Ratings (available to subscribers). The rebates could still be available in states where cash for clunkers for appliances was launched in late 2009 or early 2010. More than 20 states, including California, Florida, and Pennsylvania, will dole out rebates starting in April or later. Find more details at www.ConsumerReports.org/clunkers.

If you missed out on a clunkers rebate, check for other incentives on the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy, at www.dsireusa.org, or on the Web sites of retailers and manufacturers such as Sears and Whirlpool.