Refrigerator Efficiency Gap?

Some experts believe it's possible that refrigerator efficiency, like auto fuel efficiency before it, will become a factor in appliance sales.

refrigerator efficiency - illustration of a refrigerator backed by an efficiency scale

Steady improvements in refrigerator efficiency might earn Japanese manufacturers more market share.

Illustration by Fotolia/Onidji

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Each year, American refrigerators consume electricity amounting to nearly half of all the current produced by nuclear power plants in 1981 despite the fact that the efficiency of the "typical" (15-cubic foot, frost-free) new model has improved by almost 15% since 1976. Furthermore, in a recent article in Technology Review, scientist David B. Goldstein points out that Japan is now marketing refrigerators that use electricity at a rate less than half that of comparable U.S. domestic models. He suggests American appliance manufacturers may find themselves "in a plight similar to that of the automakers" if consumers become more aware of refrigerator efficiency and the massive amounts of energy — and money — their iceboxes are wasting.