Refrigerators getting bigger, cheaper, more efficient

People upset about the government telling them what light bulbs and toilets to buy may not realize that the iron fist of socialism has also been controlling what refrigerators they can have, too. For decades.

And so it went more or less unnoticed a few weeks ago when the Department of Energy announced new efficiency standards for refrigerators that will cut their energy use by 25 percent.

It’s the latest in a string of ever-tightening energy standards since the 1970s that have led to both gains of nearly 75 percent in energy efficiency, and lower prices, even as Americans increasingly move toward larger refrigerators, as this graph from the Appliance Standards Awareness Project shows:

What’s more, a good number of refrigerators are still manufactured here in the U.S., including plants in Indiana, Iowa and Ohio.

2 thoughts on “Refrigerators getting bigger, cheaper, more efficient

  1. Imagine if refrigerator efficiency stayed the same or increased (as shown here) and the refrigerators got smaller (have you seen refrigerators in Europe?)! More energy savings! Increased demand for local, fresh food! Better health!

    I need to understand why my mother had to visit over ten stores before she found a refrigerator to fit the space that her old one (installed in the 1980s) had occupied. ALL of the available ones were too large. How sad. It’s like the fast food or coffee menus that do not recognize small (small = medium or even large anymore). American consumers have LESS choice now than ever before, and not because of regulation – it’s due to marketing, profits, and that whole ball of wax.

  2. Interesting chart. Shows visually what many experts say: when it comes to energy efficiency, success breeds success.

    Once manufacturers build the internal systems needed to meet a few successive efficiency targets – measurement, practical R&D, planning, design, supply chain levers — they find themselves are on a path to continual improvement. Short-term costs for the manufacturers, long-term benefits for everyone. For consumers (who pay less to operate), society generally (reduced pollution and climate impacts), and the manufacturers themselves (out-competing foreign rivals).

    Of course, it’s difficult for any single manufacturer or supplier to build this virtuous cycle all by itself. That’s the role of government standards and third-party certification – to help coordinate the actions of numerous industry members for the benefit of all.

    With the two successive (industry-supported) increases in automotive fuel-efficiency standards, light duty vehicles may be entering into the same sort of virtuous cycle. Would be a nice change after decades of little progress under market forces alone.