You see the EnergyGuide labels on all types of appliances. They tell you how much electricity an appliance uses, based on tests required by the government. Machines that do well qualify for an Energy Star. But can you rely on it?
Not necessarily when you're shopping for a refrigerator, according to Consumer Reports. In its energy tests, refrigerators generally use about 20 percent more energy than it says on their yellow EnergyGuide label. That's because the tests are tougher, but Consumer Reports believes they better reflect how you'd actually use a refrigerator.
And Consumer Reports' tests have found that some French-door refrigerators are off by far more. The GE made by Samsung (GE Profile model PF9PKY) used almost 40 percent more electricity than the number on its Guide would suggest. And Consumer Reports found that the LG model LFX21975 and the Sears Kenmore model 7973 made by LG used about 50 percent more.
Consumer Reports says that the government's test procedures need to be better defined, so that manufacturers can't claim energy savings you are unlikely to see at home.
For example, Consumer Reports found that those two refrigerators made by LG use significantly less energy only at the warmest settings required by the government tests. But you're not likely to use those settings because your food's going to spoil faster. So you're not going to get the energy savings.
But don't despair. Consumer Reports found plenty of refrigerators that pass tough tests with flying colors, including a $850 top-freezer, the LG model LTC22350.
A side-by-side will cost you more, but you can still get an energy-efficient machine. The Whirlpool Gold model GC3SHAXV costs about $2,000 and performed well in Consumer Reports' tests.
The Department of Energy just recently announced it has stripped 20 LG-made French-door refrigerators of their Energy Stars, including the two that had problems in Consumer Reports' tests. While this action shows the government is addressing some of the issues with its Energy Star program, Consumer Reports says the government still needs to clarify test conditions.
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