New Jersey wants to get old refrigerators and freezers off the grid so badly that it'll pay residents fifty bucks per unit plus pick it up for recycling. To further sweeten the deal, the state is offering $1,000 to the person who turns in the oldest refrigerator or freezer before the end of September. And here's a bonus: Replacing an old unit with an Energy Star qualified model can save $100 to $200 annually in utility costs, no matter what state you live in, according to Consumer Reports.
When Consumer Reports put out a call for old appliances a few years ago, a Pittsburgh couple sent in a photo of their 1930 Westinghouse refrigerator. They said they liked its style and didn't want to part with it. But, according to Energy Star, homeowners can reap big savings by replacing their clunkers with Energy Star units. If you still have a fridge from the 1980s, replacing it can save over $100 each year and replacing a fridge from the 1970s can save more than $200 each year. Use Energy Star's calculator to find out how much you'll save by replacing your existing refrigerator.
Energy Star qualified refrigerators are required to use 20 percent less energy than models that don't carry the logo. When Consumer Reports tests refrigerators, we not only measure energy efficiency but tell you how much it costs to run each model for a year. Some of our top bottom-freezer picks, for example, cost as little as $50 to operate, based on the current year's average national utility rate.
No matter what the age of your refrigerator, you can reduce the amount of energy it uses by following these Energy Star guidelines:
- Set the appropriate temperature. Keep your refrigerator at 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer at 0 F.
- Place your fridge in a cool place. Position your refrigerator away from a heat source such as an oven, a dishwasher, or direct sunlight from a window.
- Allow air circulation behind the fridge. Leave a few inches between the wall and the refrigerator, and keep the condenser coils clean if you have an older model.
- Check the door seals. Make sure the refrigerator seals around the door are airtight. If not, replace them.
- Keep the door closed. Minimize the amount of time the refrigerator door is open.
If you live in New Jersey, you can find out more about the Oldest Fridge Contest on the New New Jersey Clean Energy website. The winner will get a $1,000 Sears gift card for Energy Star product purchases. Residents of other states should check for rebates with their local utility or visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.