Is the Future of the Fridge a Connected One?

| 2/16/2015 9:29:00 AM

Samsung fridge This 25 cu. ft. Samsung fridge meets the new Energy Star criteria that went into effect in Sep. 2014, and has enough room to fit 25 bags of groceries.

As of September 2014, all refrigerators and freezers were required to meet new federal minimum energy-efficiency standards. Additionally, to gain the coveted Energy Star label, an appliance has to be at least 10 percent more efficient than the new standards. This change, first announced in April 2013, saw manufacturers scurrying to remake their machines to comply. What this means for us as eco-conscious consumers is that the Energy Star rated fridges and freezers you see in the stores today are the most energy efficient models ever made.

"Ten percent may not seem like a big number," Ann Bailey of Energy Star says, "but when you look at what that means across all of the sales, when all refrigerators have met those requirements, the difference amounts to the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road-and $890 million in energy savings."

The updated requirements not only raise the bar for energy efficiency in refrigeration, but they also introduce, for the first time, the idea that putting Wi-Fi into a fridge could help with energy savings. The new Energy Star rating has optional guidelines for manufacturers to include "connected" features.

We already have "smart" thermostats that monitor the energy use of our HVAC system-the largest consumer of household energy-so it's a logical step to find a way to similarly empower the second largest household energy consumer: the fridge. However, the idea of fridges being connected to the Internet has heretofore primarily been the subject of ridicule, following the unfortunate fridge that sent out spam emails.

The question, "Why do we need our fridges to talk to the outside world?" is a valid one, but the answer is not just about being able to tweet while taking out the turkey-it's about being able to monitor and consequently adapt the appliance's energy use.

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