Energy efficiency is a new standard that people look for when buying appliances or gadgets that run on Electricity. According a report by EIA (United States Energy Information Administration, In 2018, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,972 kWh, which is around 914 kWh per month.

Household expenses are rising and one of the ways to deal with it is to cut down costs is buying appliances that complies with the energy efficiency standards. With technology flourishing, it is not difficult to find gadgets and appliances that are energy efficient and consume less electricity. However, it is difficult to calculate and understand how efficient the appliance is, for most of the common people.

Almost all the refrigerators brands claim themselves to be Energy Star qualified products, but one should not depend solely on those marketing gimmicks.

You would have often noticed Energy Star stickers and star ratings on them but hardly do you get to understand as to how much exactly the refrigerator is going to help you save electricity consumption. With various tiers in CEE Ratings, how do you understand whether Tier 1 is better or Tier 3? Don’t worry, because I’m going to help you understand them!

What is the Energy Star Certification?

Before we begin, Let’s first understand what actually is this Energy certification?

Energy Star Rated Refrigerators
Energy Star Rated Refrigerators

Energy Star certified refrigerators or freezers are 15-20% more energy efficient that than standards set by Federal Standards Bureau. Basically, they are more efficient than the fridge models that are not Energy Star certified.

According to the official Energy Star website:

“If everyone purchases a refrigerator that is ENERGY STAR certified, the USA households will save 715 million kWh per year and reduce greenhouse gases that are equal to 100,000 cars.”

That’s a LOT.

Even if the fridge is efficient by a mere 10%, that could still save a lot in electricity and greenhouse gases.

What are CEE Tier Ratings?

CEE is a group that publishes energy ratings for refrigerators. Their ratings are far stricter than Energy Star certification and follow a Tier based rating.

Understanding their tiers will help you acknowledge which refrigerator you should opt for considering the energy efficiency.

Old Standards

  • Tier 1 – 20% more efficient than Federal Standards
  • Tier 2 – 25% more efficient than Federal Standards
  • Tier 3 – 30% more efficient than Federal Standards

New Standards (updated in 2014)

  • Energy Star – 10%
  • CEE Tier 1 – 10%
  • CEE Tier 2 – 15%
  • CEE Tier 3 – 20%

The consortium has given us 3 tiers out of which the Tier 1 needs to meet at least the guidelines provided by Energy Star while the Tier 2 and Tier 3 are 5% and 10% more efficient than the standard Energy Star guidelines.

Of course, higher the tier, higher will be its price, but in the long term, you get to recover the cost by saving on electricity. Very few models make it to 30% and above efficiency. Here’s a look at the number of fridge models manufactured in various tiers as of the date of publishing.

Energy Star Qualified by CEE Tier Rating Statistics
Energy Star Qualified by CEE Tier Rating Statistics

Federal Minimum Standards

The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) was last updated in 2014. These standards keep getting updated every few years. Of course, we will update them whenever they change.

NAECA has set standards for all the types of refrigerators available in the market and divided them into:

  • Mini Fridge
  • Bottom Freezer
  • Top Freezer
  • Side by Side
  • Single Door
  • Chest Freezer
  • Upright Freezer
  • French Refrigerator
  • Commercial Refrigerators
  • Wine Cooler

The fridges that have freezers and ice dispensers will be a little less efficient than the regular refrigerators but are still Energy Star efficient.

Brands that Meet CEE Tier 3 Criteria

  • Samsung
  • LG
  • Whirlpool
  • Maytag
  • Kenmore
  • GE

How to Calculate Electricity used by Refrigerator?

Different refrigerators use different watts of electricity. For instance, A side by side door refrigerator with a freezer will consume more electricity than one without a freezer. Similarly, a mini fridge which is small in size would consume less electricity than french door or the top-freezer refrigerators.

I have written an in-depth article on how to calculate energy usage which will help you calculate the exact electricity cost you will have per month or annually based on the type of fridge you use at your household.

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