Tip of the Week: Choosing Environmentally Safe Refrigerators

The following is an excerpt from the Sierra Club Newsletter.

Hey Ms. Green,

What are the most environmentally safe refrigerators? Is being Energy Star certified enough?

—Stephanie in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

A refrigerator’s footprint boils down to the appliance’s energy intensity and emissions. An Energy Star certification only accounts for the former. A fridge could have the certification but still emit polluting hydrofluorocarbons, a family of greenhouse gases whose global warming potential can be thousands of times higher than that of CO2.

If you really want to play it cool, buy a refrigerator from the list on climatefriendlycooling.com. All products on that site are Energy Star certified (except for vehicle air conditioners). “We update that list quarterly because it isn’t always possible for people to search on the Energy Star website by refrigerant type,” said Kristen Taddonio, a senior climate and energy adviser at the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. Also make sure the sticker inside the fridge lists R600a or R290 refrigerant gases (more climate friendly than R-134a and R-404a). The fridges that use R600a are usually quieter.

You can save more than $300 in five years if you recycle your old refrigerator and replace it with one listed on climatefriendlycooling.com. Use one of the recyclers in the EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal program. They go beyond federal requirements.

(MassSave will recycle your old refrigerator or freezer and give you a $75 rebate.)

Copyright 2021 Sierra Club.

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