The appliances you buy can have a big impact on your energy bill, and those costs get baked into your fixed expenses for years to come. Of the more than 300 models in Consumer Reports’ current refrigerator ratings, the annual energy costs range from $42 to $110. (Energy costs are based on the national average of 12.6 cents per kilowatt hour.)

That said, home appliances—and refrigerators in particular—have become much more energy-efficient over the years. To take one model as an example, a 2015 Whirlpool side-by-side refrigerator we tested is 17 percent more efficient than a predecessor model that came through our labs in 2009.

“Newer refrigerators are much more efficient than their predecessors,” says CR test engineer Joseph Pacella, who runs the refrigerator test lab. “Federal standards are constantly updated to ensure that refrigerators of certain sizes use ever-lower amounts of energy, and manufacturers constantly introduce new technologies to meet the standards.” 

But which are the most energy-efficient? “Top-freezers and conventional bottom-freezers tend to cost less to run, compared to side-by-side and French-door fridges,” Pacella says. “Side-by-side models have a tall, thin freezer with a lot of external surface area that gets warm, and French-door bottom-freezers usually have energy-hungry add-ons, like an in-the-fridge icemaker and an anti-sweat heater.”

More on Energy Efficiency & Refrigerators

Of course, you may see lower annual energy costs on another style of refrigerator, depending on its size. And as you might expect, the refrigerator’s manufacturer makes a difference.

All these factors can make it tricky to find a refrigerator that will cut down on your electric bill. That’s where CR can help.

Below we’ve pulled together the best energy-efficient refrigerators within each refrigerator type, along with their annual energy cost. These models are made by Jenn-Air, Kenmore, LG, and Samsung.

How CR Tests Refrigerators

After a refrigerator gets wired up with temperature sensors, we monitor it for more than a month in a temperature-controlled chamber to evaluate thermostat control and temperature uniformity. CR’s test engineers collect more than 5.4 million temperature readings for each model to detect warm and cold spots and determine which refrigerators will keep your food fresh longest.

The results reveal that many refrigerators simply don’t do well at their primary function, and that could mean more wasted food and bigger grocery bills. To test the freezer compartments of refrigerators, our engineers fill the appliances with boxes of frozen spinach, then evaluate how well they keep the packages frozen.

In addition, we measure usable storage capacity, which rarely matches what manufacturers claim. Our engineers then use these measurements to calculate energy efficiency, which factors into a model’s Overall Score.

To calculate each refrigerator’s operating cost we use reported energy consumption—data that’s verified by a third-party lab—and average national energy costs. The energy consumption data from our tests in the temperature-controlled chamber allow us to corroborate the manufacturers’ energy claims.

All this testing is compiled into our refrigerator ratings, which as of late September include more than 300 models. 

Energy-Efficient Refrigerators to Consider

Best Energy-Efficient Top-Freezer
Samsung RT21M6215SG
Price: $1,079
Annual energy cost: $62
This Samsung top-freezer will make you feel good about saving energy. This affordable model comes in a stainless steel finish and is equipped with an icemaker and digital controls. It uses dual evaporators to prevent air from moving between the refrigerator and freezer compartments, but that also allows it to act as a flexi-fridge, where you can change the top compartment from freezer to refrigerator and back whenever you need extra fridge space.

Best Energy-Efficient Bottom-Freezers
LG LDC24370ST and Kenmore Elite 79043
Prices: $1,619 and $1,299, respectively
Annual energy cost: $61 for each
These two bottom-freezers tied for the same Overall Score and energy-efficiency score, as well as the same annual energy cost. And that’s simply because the LG LDC24370ST and Kenmore Elite 79043 are identical. (LG manufactures some Kenmore appliances.) Both feature an icemaker, spillproof shelving, touchpad controls, and even the same 17.1 cubic feet of usable storage. The only real difference between them is the price, which makes the Kenmore version a better deal, unless you want a matching kitchen suite.

Best Energy-Efficient Side-by-Side
Samsung RH25H5611SR
Price: $1,500
Annual energy cost: $83
Between top-freezers and French-door refrigerators is the humble side-by-side. And if you want an energy efficient side-by-side, the Samsung RH25H5611SR fits the bill. It features a stainless steel finish, external water dispenser, icemaker, and dual evaporators to prevent odors from moving between the refrigerator and freezer. Compared with some of the other models in this list, it’s not the cheapest to operate, given its $83 annual energy cost, but at $1,500 it’s quite affordable for what you get.

Best Energy-Efficient 3-Door French-Door
LG LFC24770ST
Price: $1,709
Annual energy cost: $61
Just $200 more than our efficient side-by-side above, this LG refrigerator gives you the coveted French-door style with a lower $61 annual energy cost. It lacks a water dispenser (so does the cheaper side-by-side), but it includes dual evaporators, an icemaker, digital controls, and spillproof shelves.

Best Energy-Efficient 4-Door French-Door
Samsung RF31FMESBSR
Price: $3,795
Annual energy cost: $87
This energy-efficient French-door model will give you an added perk for your environmentally conscious shopping—a built-in SodaStream sparkling-water dispenser. In addition, it features a regular water dispenser, an icemaker, adjustable shelving, and an adjustable middle compartment that can change from 29 to 42 degrees depending on what you need to store. It costs significantly more than our energy efficient three-door pick, but you might find that its additional features make up for the difference.

Best Energy-Efficient Built-In
Jenn-Air JF42NXFXDE
Price: $8,500
Annual energy cost: $58
The best energy-efficient built-in is this Jenn-Air. Despite the hefty price, this French-door model has the lowest annual energy cost among the full-sized models on this list. And because it’s a built-in, it can be matched to your kitchen cabinetry to essentially disappear. The refrigerator also features dual evaporators, touchpad controls, an icemaker, and spill guards.