How to Choose a Refrigerator

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A new refrigerator represents a major purchase. With so many models and features now available, finding the refrigerator that's right for your family requires some forethought and a good deal of shopping around.

Things You'll Need

  • Buying Guides
  • Product Brochures
  • Measuring Tapes
  • Compact Refrigerator
  • Ice Makers
  • Refrigerator Thermometers
  • Refrigerators
  • Small Refrigerators
  • Measure the area where you plan to put the refrigerator. Be sure to include height, width and depth in your measurements, and make sure you will have enough space to open the door.

  • Decide whether you want a side-by-side, top-mount (freezer on the top) or bottom-mount (freezer on the bottom) refrigerator.

  • Consider the capacity (cubic feet of storage space) inside the refrigerator, keeping in mind your outside measurements.

  • Collect and study product brochures on a variety of brands. Check out Web sites that offer information, especially comparisons.

  • Compare yellow EnergyGuide labels. The smaller the number, the less energy a refrigerator uses.

  • Look at door space. If you want to store a gallon of milk or 2-liter soda bottles in the door, look for shelves wide enough to accommodate these items.

  • Consider your family's use of ice and/or water. Choose an ice and water dispenser or an automatic icemaker.

  • Choose the kind of shelves you want. Possibilities include spill-proof glass shelves, adjustable height shelves, flexible space shelves, full-width or split shelves, elevator shelves or built-in or removable racks, such as for wine.

  • Check crispers, meat drawers and bins for convenience, capacity and strength of materials.

  • Ask about warranties and extended service contracts. Find out what is covered in the warranty and if the warranty is included in the purchase price or if it costs extra.

  • Once you find the model you want, shop around for the best price. Ask about sales, cash rebates or other money-saving offers.

Tips & Warnings

  • To operate your refrigerator most efficiently, it should always be filled approximately 2/3 full. Consider this fact when choosing your desired capacity.
  • Side-by-side refrigerators use more energy than any other type.
  • If a refrigerator has an Energy Star label, it exceeds federal-efficiency standards by 20% or more.
  • If you choose a top or bottom-mounted refrigerator, you will need to figure out which way you want the door to open. The hinges can be mounted on either side, depending on what is most convenient for you when working in the kitchen.
  • Delivery and/or installation charges are sometimes added to the cost of the appliance. Ask before you buy.

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