Buying a refrigerator by Angie’s List

Your refrigerator is the most used appliance in the kitchen. An aging, inefficient refrigerator consumes a lot of energy. If it's time to replace you can boost home efficiency by purchasing a well-sealed and insulated fridge. A new refrigerator with an Energy Star label uses at least 40 percent less energy than the conventional models sold in 2001

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated appliance sales and appliance repair companies and buying and maintaining a refrigerator.

Refrigerators come in three main body configurations:

  • Side-by-side, top-mounted freezer;
  • Side-by-side, bottom-mounted freezer and;
  • The popular French-door style, bottom-mounted freezer.

Angie's List Tips: Buying a Refrigerator

  • Measure the space: Before you go shopping, measure the space available in your kitchen. Allow some space for the air to circulate.
  • What features do you want/need? Today's refrigerators are available in several styles and colors and come with an array of options. Standard models start around $400, but others can be very high tech and push the price tag up into the thousands depending on what features are available.
  • Does it match? Buying a refrigerator that doesn't match your existing appliances could hurt your resale value if you plan to sell you home.
  • Compare models: It pays to comparison shop. Don't be afraid to negotiate on the price either, or haggle on additional fees such as delivery, installation or an extended warranty.
  • Discounted appliances: You could find a scratch and dent refrigerator for hundreds less. Most are brand new and come with a full warranty. Some dings are barely noticeable, but make sure the dents won't prevent the appliance from running properly.

Repair or Replace?

When large appliances, like the refrigerator, don't operate properly or break down, homeowners often face a difficult decision: do I repair or replace it? A good practice in determining whether to repair or replace is to look at how old the refrigerator is and the cost of repair. If it's an older unit (10 years or more) and the cost of repair is half the cost to replace it, you'll probably be better off investing in a new, energy-efficient model.  

Maintaining your refrigerator: Replacing a refrigerator is expensive. It only takes a few minutes to maintain it.

  • DON'T stuff the refrigerator and freezer so full that you're blocking the air flow necessary to keep your perishables from perishing.
  • DO clean the condenser coils. It's an easy vacuum cleaning job for most of us and will help the fridge run efficiently. Built-ins might require a service call.
  • DO check the seal. If it's not tight, you're losing efficiency and not keeping food properly chilled. Close the door on a thin sheet of paper and if the paper slips, your fridge is wasting energy. Replace the seal or adjust the door latch if needed.