Start the New Year off right with… a new refrigerator! While we can’t, unfortunately, buy a refrigerator for you, we can offer some advice on how to find the best one for your home. There are several factors to consider when choosing a refrigerator, including size, style, special features, and efficiency. Depending on the number of people in your household, food purchasing habits, and individual preference, different models may be better suited to your family.
When deciding what size refrigerator to buy, the first thing you should do is carefully measure (and re-measure) the space in your kitchen. One of the most common reasons for a customer to return a refrigerator is that it doesn’t fit correctly. Also, depending on the layout of your kitchen, you may need a model with reversible doors. Once you know the restrictions for exterior dimensions, consider how much storage capacity you will need. Most refrigerators range in capacity from 18 to 25 cu. ft., which is typically enough space for a family of four. However, some models are as small as 14 cu. ft. and others are as large as 32 cu. ft.
There are primarily four different styles of refrigerators: top-mount, bottom-mount, side-by-side, and French-door. Top-mount refrigerators have the freezer on top and the fridge below, and they are usually the most common and least expensive models. They are often conveniently designed with reversible doors, but typically are a smaller size—around 18 cu. ft., which may be limiting for larger families.
Bottom-mount models have the refrigerator on top and the freezer on the bottom as a pullout drawer. This means that you can access refrigerated items without bending over, but the food in the freezer is more difficult to access and can get easily buried.
Side-by-side refrigerators are designed with the fridge and the freezer next to each other, which gives you easy access to the freezer. They tend to have narrow shelves though, which make it difficult to fit larger dishes.
French-door refrigerators have the freezer on bottom, like the bottom-mount does. The fridge is on top and it has doors that open from the center, providing ample room for large platters.
Many refrigerators come with extra features, so you’ll also want to think about which features are most important. Extras like a water and ice dispenser, gallon-size door bins (to fit milk jugs and large juice containers), spill-proof shelves, temperature controlled zones, and adjustable shelving can be very convenient and may be worth the extra cost to you.
Not all refrigerators are created equal when it comes to energy efficiency, although models made in the last ten years are overall much more efficient than older ones. If you choose to buy a refrigerator that is ENERGY STAR certified, that means it is required to use 15% less energy that non-certified models. You may pay more for an ENERGY STAR refrigerator, but it will save you money on utility bills over time.
Happy cooking, happy refrigerator shopping, and happy New Year!