How Long Does a Refrigerator Last?

According to research, the average refrigerator lasts about 12 years. If you think it might be time to retire your refrigerator, check out Energy Star’s Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator. This handy tool that lets you input the model number of your current fridge to see how much more you’re spending on energy use annually versus a new, Energy Star refrigerator. Now let’s play by the numbers.


The number of years in the average refrigerator’s lifespan, according to research. The life span reflects how long the first owner of a refrigerator used it, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it broke down.


Amount cubic feet of fresh food storage space in the average refrigerator, based on active models.


Cubic feet of average amount of freezer space, based on active models. Guess that means the average refrigerator unit is just under 22 cu. ft.


Average price of Energy Star refrigerators in 2009.


Average price of a standard refrigerator in 2009 (not much difference, eh?).


Amount of years it takes for the lower operations costs of an Energy Star refrigerator to make up, or “pay back,” for the initial sticker price difference.


Net savings (energy savings minus initial higher cost) of an Energy Star refrigerator over its expected lifetime of 12 years.

Energy Star refrigerators save $50/year over 1990s fridges

This is an outdated picture of my kitchen, but you get the idea.

I’m replacing my 15-year-old refrigerator this month with a more roomy, smarter-designed and better-looking new fridge.

Best of all, it’s an Energy Star refrigerator, which means that it uses at least 20 percent less energy than a non-Energy Star fridge. Plus, although Energy Star refrigerators generally cost more upfront, you should consider overall cost of the appliance — which includes how much energy it uses compared to other models.

Energy Star estimates that over the lifetime of your refrigerator, you will cut your energy bills by $165 versus if you used an non-Energy Star model.

So think of how much you save when you unplug the refrigerator you’re using right now? Actually, see the handy chart below.

So my fridge from the ’90s costs about $97 per year compared to an Energy Star refrigerator, which uses an average of $48, according to this chart. (And actually, my new fridge is 10 percent better than the Energy Star standards; its energy use is estimated to cost about $43 per year.)

Obviously, I have to buy the new fridge, but I’ve budgeted for that. Now, what will I do with the $50? Better question: what will do with the $600 in usage cost savings I’ll realize over the average life (12 years) of my refrigerator?

Swap and Save with Energy Star Refrigerators

No leaving the table until you’ve finished everything on your plate! Or so our mothers used to tell us. These parental edicts, usually in reference to broccoli and other unpleasant sprouts, were designed to teach us important lessons about conservation and not wasting what we have.

Now that you’ve got your new countertops, cabinets, and appliances in, your kitchen remodel is complete. But rather than have Warners’ Stellian haul away your old refrigerator, you have us move it to the basement or garage. And why not? It still works, and provides plenty of capable cooling for soda, beer, popsicles, and all of those other treats that occupy a little too much space in our kitchen refrigerators.

Energy Star Refrigerators

But did you know that today’s Energy Star refrigerators are up to 40% more efficient than models sold in just 2001? The electricity saved by replacing a refrigerator built in 1990 with an Energy Star refrigerator can light the average household for four months! Modern refrigerators have thicker, more effective insulation for retaining temperature, while more energy efficient compressors ensure minimal electric consumption.

What does it all mean? Better energy efficiency also puts money back in your pockets! Based on average national rates, an 18 cubic foot Energy Star refrigerator uses $179 less per year than a comparably sized model built prior to 1980, and $130 less per year than models built prior to 1990. Not only that, better energy efficiency means less pollution and cleaner water.

So rather than move that old, inefficient refrigerator into the basement, consider a new Energy Star refrigerator instead.

Shop Energy Star refrigerators today at Warners’ Stellian.