Best Energy-Efficient Refrigerators

These top-rated refrigerator models from LG, Samsung, and Sub-Zero are good for your wallet and the planet

We calculate the annual energy cost for every refrigerator that goes through our labs so you can more easily shop for models that are both energy- and cost-efficient.

By Daniel Wroclawski

Updated by Tim Barribeau and Daphne Yao

The appliances you buy have a big impact on your energy bill. They run so frequently (or in the case of refrigerators, 24/7/365) that their energy costs get baked into your fixed expenses for years to come. The good news is that home appliances, and refrigerators in particular, have become much more efficient over the years, costing people less and less.

“Newer refrigerators use much less energy than their predecessors,” says Larry Ciufo, CR’s test engineer for refrigerators. “Federal standards are constantly updated to ensure that refrigerators of certain sizes use ever-lower amounts of energy, and manufacturers introduce new technologies to meet those standards.”

But which are the most energy-efficient? Our tests show that top-freezer and bottom-freezer refrigerators usually cost less to run than side-by-side and French-door models.

“Side-by-side models have a tall, thin freezer with a lot of external surface area that gets warm, and French-door bottom-freezers usually have energy-hungry add-ons, like an in-the-fridge icemaker and an anti-sweat heater,” Ciufo says.

Of course, a refrigerator’s size and manufacturer make a difference in its energy use as well.

These factors make it tricky to find a refrigerator that will cut down on your electric bill. That’s where CR can help. We calculate the annual energy cost for every refrigerator in our ratings using the national average electricity cost at the time of testing. You can see these costs in the Ratings & Specs section of our ratings charts.

CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of the best energy-efficient refrigerators in each refrigerator type, sorted by Overall Score. We chose models that earn top-notch or almost top-notch ratings for energy efficiency while still offering solid performance, reliability, and owner satisfaction. The refrigerators are made by LG, Samsung, and Sub-Zero.

To see even more highly rated energy-efficient fridges, go to our full refrigerator ratings and sort by energy efficiency. And if you need help shopping for a new refrigerator, check out our refrigerator buying guide.

Best Energy-Efficient Refrigerators


CR’s take: The energy-efficient, 33-inch LG LRDCS2603S is our top-performing bottom-freezer model. It earns shining ratings for thermostat control and temperature uniformity, and very good ratings for energy efficiency, noise, and ease of use. It has the most usable capacity of any bottom-freezer we’ve tested, and it’s among the cheapest to operate on a cubic-foot basis. It’s also well-appointed: It comes with a built-in water filter, an air filter, spillproof shelves, gallon-sized door storage, and a freezer light. Its annual energy cost is $75.

Sub-Zero Designer IT-36RID

CR’s take: The Sub-Zero Designer IT-36RID is a 36-inch-wide built-in column refrigerator, meaning it lacks a freezer compartment. Instead, you would need to buy a column freezer to go with it. This Sub-Zero refrigerator features a built-in water filter, an internal water dispenser, a built-in air purification system, and digital controls that display both set and actual temperatures. This built-in is also unique in that it’s divided into three separate fresh-food compartments, one with a door that opens upward and two pull-out drawers. In our tests, it receives excellent ratings for thermostat control, temperature uniformity, and energy efficiency, and passable ratings for noise output and ease of use. In our latest member survey, Sub-Zero built-ins received an above-average rating for predicted reliability and a standout rating for owner satisfaction. For a similar model without the internal water dispenser, see the Sub-Zero Designer IT-36R.


CR’s take: The 36-inch LG LRFDS3016S French-door refrigerator offers an ample amount of usable space; its 20.4 cubic feet is among the most generous in the category. And it performs well, with impressive ratings for the important cooling functions, as well as a strong rating for energy efficiency that’s actually a little better than the other LGs. In our latest member survey, LG French-door refrigerators received satisfactory ratings for predicted reliability and very good ratings for owner satisfaction. In addition to having a door-in-door compartment (which lets you access frequently used items on the door without fully opening the cavity), this model offers a ton of features, including dual evaporators (to prevent air and odors from mixing between the fresh-food and freezer cavities), a second icemaker in the freezer drawer, air and water filters, and adjustable shelves.


CR’s take: The side-by-side LG LSXS26326S aces nearly all our tests. It earns top marks in every one except for energy efficiency, where it still nabs our second-highest score. This 36-inch model features a through-the-door water/ice dispenser, dual evaporators, a built-in water filter, and digital controls. Based on data from our latest member survey, LG side-by-sides earned so-so ratings for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

Samsung RT21M6213SG

CR’s take: The sharp-looking Samsung RT21M6213SG comes in a black stainless steel finish and costs only $52 per year to run. In our tests, this top-freezer refrigerator earns a stellar rating for energy efficiency and thermostat control, as well as middling ratings for temperature uniformity and ease of use. Samsung top-freezers received an excellent rating for predicted reliability and a midrange rating for owner satisfaction in CR’s member surveys. This 33-inch model is equipped with dual evaporators, gallon-sized door storage, and a freezer light.

Correction: On May 31, 2022, this article was updated to reflect the correct Overall Scores for the products listed. A prior version included Overall Scores that inadvertently drew on older predicted reliability and owner satisfaction data.

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