Fridges, freezers and kitchen

Fridges and freezers are switched on all day, every day and account for 8% of an average home’s energy use. Cooking appliances can account for about 5% of the energy used.

Purchasing the best suited appliances for your needs, maintaining them and using them wisely will help keep your energy costs down.

Using your fridge and freezer

Watch our video and use the tips below to ensure your fridge and freezer are running as efficiently as possible.

  • Position the fridge or freezer in a well-ventilated space, away from any heat sources. Fridges in warm environments have to work harder and will use more energy to stay cool. Use window shades to stop direct sunlight hitting the fridge. Ensure there is plenty of space around the top, sides and back of the unit so air can circulate. Refer to the manufacturer’s information for the recommended ventilation space.
  • For safe food storage and to avoid using excess energy, set the temperature of your fridge to between 3oC and 5oC, and your freezer to between -15oC and -18oC. Use a thermometer to check the temperature inside your fridge and freezer.
  • Don’t open the doors too often or leave them open for extended periods of time, as it allows cool air to escape and the fridge will use more energy to replace it.
  • Don’t overfill fridges and freezers, as there needs to be space for the cold air to circulate around what’s inside.
  • Make sure the door seals aren’t cracked, brittle, damaged or dirty. Replace any seals that are broken, warped or worn. Check that door seals grip properly so the cool air isn’t leaking out. You can check this by shutting a piece of paper in the door - a seal in good condition should grip the paper firmly.
  • If your fridge or freezer has coils at the back, a build-up of dust can act like insulation and stop heat from escaping. Keep the coils clean so the unit doesn’t have to use extra energy to keep cool.
  • If your freezer doesn’t defrost itself automatically, regularly check there isn’t a build-up of frost. Frost will reduce the efficiency of the freezer. If the frost is thicker than about 5 mm, it needs to be cleared. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to defrost your freezer.
  • If you have more than one fridge or freezer, turn off any that don’t need to be used all of the time to save on running costs. For example, a drinks fridge used for keeping drinks cool for parties can be switched on 24 hours before a party and turned off once the party has finished.
  • If you’re going away for a long time, consider emptying the fridge out and turning it off while you’re away – leave the door open to prevent mould growth.

Newer fridges and freezers are more energy efficient than models more than 10 years old. If you are buying a new fridge or freezer, check the energy consumption on the energy rating label. Choose the right size fridge or freezer for your household’s needs - a large fridge or freezer will use more energy than a small one.

Using other kitchen appliances

Small kitchen appliances are cheaper to run than ovens and cooktops because they use less energy and cook faster than larger appliances.

Where possible, use a smaller appliance instead of a large one, for example, a toaster oven instead of a grill, microwave instead of an oven, kettle instead of cooktop, or slow cooker instead of the oven or cooktop.

Microwaves cook quickly, use about 75% less energy than ovens and cooktops and don’t heat up your kitchen in summer like an oven can. To save on energy, thaw frozen food in the fridge instead of defrosting it in the microwave.

If you’re using an oven, make sure the door seals aren’t broken or pressed out of shape, and keep the oven body and seals clean. Don’t pre-heat ovens unnecessarily, and try not to open the door too often while cooking, as the oven will work harder to replace the hot air. If possible, cook several things in the oven at the same time. Consider cooking in bulk and freezing your food, which can be reheated in a microwave at a later stage.

When you use a cooktop, match the size of the saucepan to the size of the hotplate or burner. With a gas cooktop, the pan should cover the burner so that none of the flames run up the sides. Use a correct-fitting lid on pans to keep the heat in and to help things cook faster.

Fridge, freezer and kitchen appliances running costs

If you know the input power of your fridge, freezer or kitchen appliance, you can use it to calculate your running costs or you can borrow a plug-in power meter as part of a Home Energy Toolkit.

If you’re buying a new fridge or freezer, use the energy rating label to help choose the most energy efficient model. The more stars the better. You can also compare the estimated running costs of new models on the Energy Rating website.

The tables below can help you work out the cost of running appliances currently in your home.

Fridges and freezers

The running cost of a fridge or freezer will depend on the size and efficiency rating of the appliance, the temperature of the environment around it (for example, if it is in a warm location or in direct sunlight), the temperature it is set at, and whether it is well maintained.

Energy consumption and cost over a year is more informative than an hourly running cost because fridges and freezers are generally switched on 24 hours a day.

Fridge size Typical annual
energy consumption (kWh)
Cost per year

100-199 litres



200-299 litres



300-399 litres



400-499 litres



500-599 litres



600-699 litres



Electrical cooking appliances

Appliance Typical watts Hourly running cost




Cooktop (per element)



Range hood












Gas cooking appliances

Appliance Typical megajoules Hourly running cost




Cooktop (per burner)





$0.24 - $0.48


For dishwashers, energy use and cost per cycle are more useful measures than hourly running costs because most dishwashers have multiple options for the length and type of cycle (for example, eco versus full wash).

The cost per year is based on a dishwasher that is run four times a week.

Installation typeCapacity kWh per cycle Cost per cycle Cost per year


less than 10 place settings




10-15 place settings





less than 10 place settings




10-15 place settings





less than 10 place settings




10-15 place settings





12 place settings




Note: Estimated running costs are based on the AGL electricity and Origin Energy standing retail contracts. For further methodology information, please contact the Energy Advisory Service.

    Other websites

    • Energy Star - find out about certified energy efficient products that can help save you money

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    Page last updated 10 October 2019

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