The Effects of External Temperature on the Energy Consumption of Household Refrigerator-Freezers and Freezers
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Refrigerating units are a major end use of electricity across the residential sector. Specifically in the United States, many households utilize a second refrigerator or freezer in unconditioned spaces, such as a garage or basement. With efforts to improve efficiency and reduce consumption, it is important to understand how a unit behaves outside the design conditions. The forecasted annual energy consumption as published on the EnergyGuide sticker is determined by testing the unit at a specified external temperature that simulates the loads of an indoor kitchen and does not accurately reflect the consumption at either thermal extremes. During this project, dorm-size refrigerators, standard-size refrigerators, and chest freezers were tested at various external temperatures ranging from 33°F to 110°F to determine the trend of the annual energy consumption and related cost. The results of these tests were that, in general, the consumption increases with increasing external temperature. There was interesting behavior at the lower temperatures that requires further research, but the defining trend followed a cubic regression, rather than linear. Housing a unit in a cooler environment will result in a lower energy consumption, but it is recommended that consumers do not store their refrigerators or freezers in areas that will experience temperatures above 90°F or below 55°F.
Burgess, Tiffany (2015). The Effects of External Temperature on the Energy Consumption of Household Refrigerator-Freezers and Freezers. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from