How Much Electricity Does a Mini Refrigerator Use?

Author: Mary Beth Benoit


A 3.1-4.1 cubic foot, Energy Star Certified mini fridge uses an average of 250-300 kilowatt hours per year and costs about $28.00-$36.00 to run.

More Info: The cost to run a mini fridge or compact refrigerator is based on the national average so your actual costs will be higher or lower based on the cost of electricity in your area.  The samples given are also Energy Star certified.  Older models and models that are not certified may be substantially more costly to run.

To better understand the energy consumed, consider that running a compact refrigerator is about the cost of running a standard light bulb.  For reference, a computer and monitor use 394 kWh per year or $43.34.


Sample Models with Kilowatt Usage:

  • Frigidaire 3.3 cubic foot (model#: BFPH33M4LM) 267kWh/$29
  • Frigidaire 3.1 cubic foot (model#: BFPH31M6LM) 337kWh/$36
  • Frigidaire 4.4 cubic foot (model#: BFPH44M4LM) 274kWh/$30
  • Frigidaire 4.5 cubic foot (model#: BFPH45F4LM) 259kWh/$28


Factors That Crank Up the Bill

Like most appliances, a refrigerator does not run 24 hours a day, so does not expend energy 24 hours per day.  Efficiency Vermont estimates that the refrigerator actually runs 730 hours per year, or a total of two hours per day. [Energy Vermont]  If it runs more than that, then it follows that it will cost more to run.  To make your compact refrigerator run more efficiently, allow it plenty of space to keep cool.  For example, under the counter models that are wedged in between cabinets will expend more energy than a unit that is free from surroundings.  Also, keep your refrigerator away from things that heat up such as the dishwasher, which will cause the unit to run more often.

To calculate an appliance's energy usage:


[(Wattage × Hours Used Per Day) ÷ 1000] x 365  = Daily Kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption

Example: 100 Watt Standard Light bulb

Multiply the watts drawn by the light bulb by the number of hours used per day.

100 watts x 6 hours per day=600 watts per day

Divide the number of watts per day by 1,000 to convert to kilowatts.

600 watts per day=.6 kWh per day

Multiply the kilowatts per day by 365 to calculate yearly usage.

.6 x 365= 219kWh per year

Multiply the kilowatt hours per year by the cost of electricity in your area.

219 kWh x .11 kWh = $24.09

Cost of energy based on the US Department of Energy's estimate national average cost of energy.


Why Energy Star?

If you have a compact refrigerator that is not Energy Star certified, you can expect your electricity consumption to be 15-20% higher.  ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerators are 15% more efficient than non-qualified models and are 20% more efficient than models that simply meet the federal minimum standard for energy efficiency. [Energy Star]

Be Wary

Though Energy Star tests models then certifies them with a sticker that clearly denotes how much electricity the unit uses per year with an average cost base, Consumer Reports has tested some models and found that a few were significantly higher in cost to run.  In fact, some models tested cost $50-$80 per year in electricity.  That's actually more than some energy efficient full size refrigerators. [Consumer Reports]


Works Cited

Energy Star
Refrigerators: 2007 Partner Resource Guide

Efficiency Vermont
Electric Usage Chart -Refrigerators US Department of Energy
Estimating Appliance and Home Energy Use Charges

purplearrowExpert Opinion

Quote:  "Replacing the old refrigerator in your garage or basement with a new ENERGY STAR qualified compact refrigerator can save over $70 per year. Over five years, that’s enough money to buy: A new ENERGY STAR qualiied compact refrigerator, 85 12-packs of soft drinks, A new air hockey table, A new Nintendo Wii along with two games."


purple arrowCite this Article

"How Much Electricity Does a Mini Refrigerator Use?." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <>.  

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to treat or diagnose any health problems or illnesses without consulting a physician. It is not meant to take the place of health care or services you may need. Please consult a physician with any questions you may have regarding your health.

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