Chill Out: Choosing the Right Refrigerator for Your Kitchen

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Is it time to replace your refrigerator? Hopefully it’s a decision you have the luxury of making before you are faced with a broken-down box full of spoiling food. Refrigerators, thankfully, have a way of lasting a long time so when it comes time to buy a new one, there’s a need to get up to speed on what’s available since your last purchase.

Major considerations when choosing a refrigerator

  • Fit – This is undoubtedly the most important consideration because, despite the style or features you desire, the refrigerator must fit in the space you have available for it. Carefully measure the space, including height, depth and width. Be certain to account for door swing and 1” on each side for proper air flow.
  • Capacity – With refrigerators, big on the outside doesn’t always mean more storage on the inside. Rather than going by a refrigerator’s overall size, refer to its storage capacity. How much refrigerator capacity is enough for your family? Manufacturers suggest that a family of four should have a refrigerator with 19-22 cubic feet of storage capacity. Beyond that, take into account your shopping habits and lifestyle; if you tend to do major stock-ups or host lots of big parties, you may want to look for a refrigerator with the most storage capacity you can fit.
  • Energy efficiency – According to, efficiency standards among refrigerators can vary, so to accurately compare energy usage, refer to their annual operating costs and kilowatt-hours, listed on their EnergyGuide label.

Major Refrigerator Models

  • Top freezer – This is the traditional refrigerator style, offering the most storage for their size and wide shelves which make reaching to the back easy. They come in plenty of sizes and are the most affordable. There is, however, the inconvenience of needing to bend when reaching lower shelves, as well as and the space necessary to open their wide doors to consider.
  • Bottom freezer – Growing in popularity, these feature the refrigerator at eye level. Although they are available with one wide door, French door models lessen the amount of space needed for door swing. They are pricier than top freezer models, however, and can be more difficult to find in narrower widths.
  • Side-by-side – The two narrow doors these refrigerators offer work well in kitchens where space is at a premium. The narrowness of their doors make it more difficult to reach to the back, though, and impossible to store wide items. They’re a bit lacking in the energy efficiency department as well.

Refrigerator Features

Some refrigerator features are gimmicky and, while they sound desirable, their effectiveness can’t be substantiated. Here are some worth considering:

  • Pullout shelves/bins and full-extension drawers allow for easier access.
  • Split shelves allow for variety in sizes of items stored throughout the refrigerator.
  • Temperature-controlled drawers make it easier to keep foods at proper temperature.
  • “Elevator shelves” crank up and down without having to empty their contents.

A note about ice/water in the door: While it seems like an extremely convenient feature, do realize that it takes up a great deal of freezer storage space.

Buying Tips

  • You may be able to save by negotiating with the seller.
  • An extended warranty is unnecessary.
  • Once you know exactly the model you want, consider buying online if it’s cheaper.

The most important thing you can ask of a refrigerator is to keep a consistent and appropriate temperature of 37°F in the main unit, 32°F in the meat compartment and 0°F in the freezer.

Hopefully there are some coupons you could use to lower what you need to ultimately pay, but knowing what you’re looking for before you shop will help you choose the right refrigerator for your kitchen.

What type of refrigerator suits your needs?

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