The 6 Best Energy-Efficient Refrigerators of 2021

From compact to luxe, we found the best fridges to cut pollution and save money.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
There is abundant space in this Energy Star Certified refrigerator.
An energy efficient, inexpensive refrigerator option.
This high-end refrigerator has features that make it extra efficient, plus some upgrades.
Increased storage and adjustable shelves allows this refrigerator to fit anything.
An energy efficient refrigerator to fit in small kitchens.
Use your cellphone to control various features with LG’s Smart Refrigerator.

Energy use is an important factor to consider when you are shopping for household appliances. Not only do non-efficient appliances waste energy and drive up your utility bills, but when it comes to the environment they also gobble up more resources and contribute to emissions. The good news is that refrigerators have had efficiency improvements over the years due to mandates from the Department of Energy (DOE) and consumer demand.

“The DOE standards essentially set the efficiency floor for products that can be sold in the U.S. and every six years or so they update the standards for most products,” explains Noah Horowitz, the Director of NRDC’s Center for Energy Efficiency Standards. “As a result of DOE standards, the average U.S. household saves around $500 per year on their utility bills.”

We researched energy-smart options. Below is a list of the best energy-efficient refrigerators:

Best Overall: Whirlpool 21 cu. ft. Side by Side Refrigerator in Monochromatic Stainless Steel

Whirlpool 21 cu. ft. Side by Side Refrigerator in Monochromatic Stainless Steel

Capacity: 21.4 cubic feet | Dimensions: 32.75 x 66.63 x 33.63 inches | Weight: 242.5 pounds | Warranty: 1 year limited | Annual Energy Use: 602 kWh/year

The Whirlpool Side by Side Refrigerator has the basics you need in a refrigerator, plus more. It is available in black, white, and monochromatic stainless steel. The refrigerator has ample freezer and refrigerator space as it has four freezer baskets/bins and three freezer shelves, four refrigerator shelves, as well as adjustable gallon door bins to increase loading flexibility. The operational features include humidity control and a humidity-controlled crisper drawer. This refrigerator also includes an outdoor ice and water dispenser, and an indoor ice dispenser. 

This Energy Star-certified refrigerator also has LED lighting on both sides and a night-light on the water dispenser.

Best Budget: LG LTCS20020S 20 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator

LG LTCS20020S 20 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator

Capacity: 20.2 cubic feet | Dimensions: 29.75 x 66.12 x 33.37 inches | Weight: 202 pounds | Warranty: 1 year (parts and labor) | Annual Energy Use: 430 kWh/year

If you are looking for a great refrigerator but are on a budget, this Top Freezer Refrigerator from LG is a good buy. It was rated Energy Star Most Efficient in 2020 thanks to its LoDecibel Quiet Operation technology. The refrigerator has two color options/finishes of stainless steel or smooth white. This refrigerator has two shelves, two humidity crisper bins, two gallon-sized bins on the refrigerator door, and one freezer shelf. The option for an ice maker is also included when purchased. 

Warranties for the refrigerator include 5 years for the sealed system and compressor (parts and labor), while the linear compressor (parts) has a limited warranty between 6 and 10 years.

Best Splurge: LG LTCS24223S 33-inch Top-Freezer Refrigerator

LG LTCS24223S refrigerator

Capacity: 28.8 cubic feet | Dimensions: 33 x 69 x 32 inches | Weight: 284 pounds | Warranty: 1 year on parts and labor, 5 years on sealed system and compressor | Annual Energy Use: 501 kWh

This LG refrigerator is a great choice to spend more on, especially considering all of its features. In addition to being Energy Star Certified, it has bright LED panels for efficient lighting and a chime that reminds you to close the door if you've been holding it open for too long. It's exceptionally quiet and has a humidity-controlled crisper.

It has a built-in ice maker with a removable basket, glass shelves, and hidden hinges. The temperature and humidity are regulated by a digital sensor, and the temperature setting can be adjusted with a digital touchpad. One downside is that it's available in a limited number of finishes.

Best Large: Dacor DRF36C000SR 36" Counter-Depth Free Standing Refrigerator

Dacor DRF36C000SR 36" Counter-Depth Free Standing Refrigerator

Capacity: 22.6 cubic feet | Dimensions: 35.75 x 70 x 30.87 inches | Weight: 375 lbs | Warranty: 3 year for parts, 2 year for labor | Annual Energy Use: 554 kWh/ year

With slide and fold shelves, and a flexible storage divider, Dacor’s Freestanding Refrigerator is perfect for storing larger items. This refrigerator has French doors with room for more large items as well. There is a full-width storage drawer that can hold anything from chilled drinks to deli food. Included is an external ice and water dispenser, as well as an internal water dispenser for a 48-ounce pitcher, with the option of an infuser.

The refrigerator has three full-width shelves, two adjustable shelves, one slide and fold shelf, one flip-up shelf, and seven door bins. There are also two crisper drawers and one freezer drawer. Dacor’s Freestanding Refrigerator is Energy Star Certified.

Best Small: Frigidaire FFET1022UV 10.1 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator

The Frigidaire FFET1022UV 10.1 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator is a great, compact option.

Capacity: 10.1 cubic feet | Dimensions: 23.75 x 59.87 x 26.25 inches | Weight: 123.5 pounds | Warranty: 1 year limited | Annual Energy Use: 296 kWh/year

Frigidaire Top Freezer Apartment-Size Refrigerator is perfect for apartments or for smaller kitchens and comes in white, black, or brushed steel. The storage options include two full-width door bins that can hold taller items as well as gallon jugs, and two crisper drawers. Two adjustable glass shelves can be moved up and down to create space for tall items. The freezer has two bins and one shelf.

Another great feature for apartments is the reversible door swing options, that way you do not have to worry as much about where the refrigerator is placed. This refrigerator has LED lighting and is Energy Star certified.

Best Smart: LG LMXS28596S 28 cu. ft. Smart wi-fi Enabled InstaView™ Door-in-Door® Refrigerator

LG LMXS28596S 28 cu. ft. Smart wi-fi Enabled InstaView™ Door-in-Door® Refrigerator

Capacity: 28 cubic feet | Dimensions: 35.75 x 69.75 x 36.25 inches | Weight: 322 pounds | Warranty: 1 year (parts and labor) | Annual Energy Use: 760 kWh/year

LG Smart Wi-Fi Enabled InstaView Door-in-Door Refrigerator is the energy-efficient smart refrigerator. For a modern look, the refrigerator has French doors, and the refrigerator itself comes in stainless steel or black stainless steel and is fingerprint and smudge resistant. You can control some of the features of the refrigerator with its SmartThinq Technology.

With the SmartThinQ app, you can receive notifications on your cellphone when the water filter needs to be replaced, when the door is open, and can control the temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer remotely. The refrigerator also works with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. There is a child lock feature. Other impressive features include LG InstaView Door-in-Door which is a mirrored glass panel that becomes transparent when you knock twice so you can see what is in your refrigerator. 

Regarding storage, there is a door within the door, which gives you access to another compartment before you get in your refrigerator. This is a four-door refrigerator, with two doors dedicated to separate freezer drawers, and the freezer has two bins. There are four refrigerator shelves, and a “Glide n’ Serve Drawer” that is great for party platters. This refrigerator also has an external water dispenser. It's Energy Star Qualified.

Final Verdict

With ample freezer and fridge space, water and ice dispensers, humidity control, and a night light, Whirlpool's Side by Side Refrigerator (view at Home Depot) has all the essentials you could want in a fridge and then some. For those trying to go energy efficient on a budget, LG’s Top Freezer Refrigerator (view at AJ Madison) is the perfect choice.

What to Look for in an Energy-Efficient Refrigerator

Size and Type

Consider what you may be putting in your refrigerator and get the right size. According to Energystar.gov the most energy-efficient models for refrigerators are 16 to 20 cubic feet. 

“In general, top or bottom mount freezers use a lot less energy than side by side models and are typically less expensive to purchase,” says NRDC's Noah Horowitz.

Energy Use

The easiest way to identify an energy-efficient refrigerator is by looking for the blue and white Energy Star seal. Energy Star is a labeling program that is backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is used to identify the more energy-efficient models that are on the market. Horowitz says, “models that meet the Energy Star label today use approximately 10 percent less energy than those that just meet the federal minimum efficiency standard level set by DOE.”

You can also look at the Energy Guide label that is overseen by the Federal Trade Commission. It can help you compare annual operating costs of similar models. This label will also have the estimated kWh used yearly for the refrigerator. 

FAQs

Are new refrigerators more efficient?

"Refrigerators have gotten more energy efficient over the past 20 years," says Horowitz. This can be attributed to the federal efficiency standards that were set by the Department of Energy. Because of these standards, the average annual energy use of new refrigerators is approximately 500 kWh per year, down from 1,000 kWh per year in 1990.

Do energy-efficient refrigerators qualify for tax credits?

The purchase of efficient refrigerators does not qualify for tax credits. However, some utilities and manufacturers do offer consumer rebates.

Is a full refrigerator more energy efficient?

Full refrigerators do use slightly less energy in comparison to empty refrigerators, according to Horowitz.

Why Trust Treehugger?

To make this list, first we consulted with an energy expert from the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), a leading environmental non-profit about what to look for in refrigerators. We then evaluated options based on their annual energy usage, energy-saving features, and also considered user reviews and other third-party reviews to make our final selections.