When it comes to your kitchen, nothing is more important than a place to keep your food fresh.
But whether it’s a separate refrigerator and freezer, a combined fridge-freezer, USA-style double or integrated under-the-counter fridge, there is a lot to consider when buying a new one.
A whopping 4.5 million people in the UK suffer from illnesses related to refrigeration with Brits throwing away £12 billion worth of rotten food every year. So having the latest most energy-efficient model can save you money on electricity bills and prevent germs breeding, to keep food lasting longer.
To help you in buying a new fridge, freezer or combined fridge-freezer, below we’ve come up with a list of questions you should ask yourself.
How Much Food Do I Need to Store?
This is the most obvious question. If you live alone, you won’t need a huge American double fridge-freezer.
First decide if storing fresh food in the fridge is the most important, or whether you’ll need more space for frozen items. This will help you decide what product suits your needs. Combined single width fridge-freezers for example, come in different ratios, not just 50/50.
Where Will It Be Placed?
Measure how much space you have in your kitchen for the appliance. Remember to think about the height, as you’ll need to be able to reach to the top shelf. Also make sure there’s enough room for the door to open to its widest point.
Consider whether separates may work, such as smaller larder models or those that fit under a worktop. Remember though, you will have to bend down more often. Full size single 50, 55 or 60cm separates are available along with mixed single models, generally with a larger fridge at the top and a smaller freezer below.
Larger families could consider 70cm+ American-style fridge-freezers. But these do take up lots of space. Side-by-Side models are another idea. Designed to stand next to each other, some can connect together, provide a full 50/50 proportion and save space over American-style ones.
Can I Put My Fridge or Freezer Outside?
Some models are designed for use in outbuildings, sheds or garages. These have different minimum and maximum temperatures they can be exposed to.
What About Having Water and Ice?
Many fridges and freezers now come with built-in water and ice dispensers. But these will take away space inside that could be used for storing food.
Some work by holding water in a tank, others need to be plumbed in directly to your water supply. So check if it can be placed near a pipe it can tap into.
How Energy Efficient Are Fridges and Freezers?
A massive £2 billion of electricity is used on refrigeration each year and £700m could be saved per year if people swapped to more efficient A-rated appliances. A+ and above models are up to 60% more efficient and can save you as much as £30 a year on your bills.
A combined fridge-freezer is the hardest working appliance in your kitchen, using about 40% of the kitchen’s electricity. So if you’re choosing one of these, ensure it is at least A+-rated.
How Do I Prevent Ice Forming?
Nobody wants to spend time chipping away at the ice in their freezer. The more frost that builds up, the less energy efficient the appliance will be.
For combined models, fully frost-free keeps it at bay in both the fridge and freezer while partial frost-free only stops it appearing in the frozen section. Frost-free separates are also available.
What Is the Coolest Cooling Technology?
The circulation of cold air throughout your fridge or freezer is the best way to ensure the whole area inside stays cool. By pushing the cold air around evenly, some models describe this as Multiflow, it ensures no hot spots.
The moisture from any warm air entering is drawn out to prevent it becoming water and freezing. These drops then evaporate in a built-in compressor.
Samsung offers twin cooling on some of its models where the temperatures are separately controlled in the fridge and freezer. This stops odours mixing, is more efficient and prevents air from the freezer drying out fresh food in fridge.
LCD display panels inside or on the outside allow temperatures to be controlled more accurately. Old-fashioned dials can be out by as much as six degrees.
What Technology Keeps Food Fresh for Longest?
As well as more accurate temperature and humidity controls and frost-free, there’s plenty of technology to keep food fresh.
Many top-end models such as those from Panasonic have antibacterial linings on the shelves to prevent germs breeding and others come with better insulation and vacuum seals around the doors to stop hot air entering or cold air escaping.
Panasonic also have a salad storage compartment that doubles up as an area to keep other types of food fresh, ensuring all the moisture is kept in.
Fast freeze compartments quickly chill fresh food you’ve just bought from the shops or meals made at home ready for freezing, locking in the nutrients. It can also be used to chill bottles.
Samsung have a model with a small compartment with its own temperature control, a great tool for storing fish and meat.
What Else Should I Look for Inside?
Check for adjustable shelf heights, the number of shelves, salad bins, bottle holders and wine racks. Other fridges have space for placing cans in the door.
Inside the freezer, look for bigger bins or deeper shelves for storing large meat items and packets.
Lighting is also key with LED technology replacing the single light that shines when you open the door. LED lets you see throughout the whole fridge and can either be tower lighting from the top or placed along the sides.
How Noisy are Fridges and Freezers?
The noise made by these appliances is shown on the energy label and is measured in decibels. If you have an open plan living area it is worth noting the level. A lower noise level will be much better to avoid being disturbed during your everyday activities.
Do I Have to Settle for a Boring White Design?
There are many different types of colours and finishes now available on fridges and freezers from black and stainless steel to bright shades with designer-style handles.
If you have kids, anti-fingerprint finishes may be worth considering, to prevent sticky fingers showing up, forcing you to constantly wipe the outside.
- Anti-Bacterial – A coating that stops germs from breeding and transferring between films and helps control odours
- Frost-Free – Ice build-up is prevented by a fan ensuring cold air is circulated throughout the entire appliance, so no hot spots appear to cause moisture that could then freeze
- Integrated – Appliances that can be built-into kitchen cupboards and units