A read-through of the revisions proposed for ENERGY STAR refrigerators (expected to take effect in March 2014) indicate that "connectivity" capability is included in the guideline. 


Presumably, this connectivity will make it possible for demand response programs to order refrigerators not to defrost (or otherwise reduce electric demand) during a power shortage period.  Or maybe connectivity could allow utilities to identify refrigerators whose compressors go bad and start using too much energy. A great service.  Customers would need to authorize all access of course.


Wow!  Are we excited yet?  Who has been using "connected" refrigerators?

Tags: ENERGY, STAR, appliances, demand, refrigerators, response

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Count me as a bit skeptical at this point. Will it be useful or just intrusive? For demand response I doubt that refrigerators are enough of a target to be worthwhile for most utilities. Perhaps if combined with AC or DHW there might be enough load shedding to be of use. But given that it will be many years before there are significant numbers in use I'm not excited.

There was the one at CES that kept track of when you need beer. THAT could be useful :-)

Personally, I wish my refrigerator had energy use information on the display. Seems like it would be a cheap and easy add for the manufacturer, and it could alert me if there's an issue and energy use goes up above normal. So many cars and other devices have this sort of on-board diagnostic.

Bill, this is the one you want: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36pr0t7hntI

Wow, I'd forgotten about that. Combine that with this: http://ces.cnet.com/1606-34441_1-50138471.html. and you have really improved my life! If automatic beer deliveries could be included we are approaching perfection.

Our utility is already doing this with Air Conditioners and the Smarthours VPP program. Connectivity could be useful with refrigerators, but they represent such a low part of the load during times of high demand. 4000 watt Water heaters, and 3000 watt Pool pumps are other high demand devices that are WAY more of a factor than a 200W refrigerator. Hit the low hanging fruit first...

Personally, I wish my refrigerator had energy use information on the display.

And calendar, and tasks, and grocery lists, I think connectivity will be really nice.  Brave New World.  

But at total energy cost of $40 a year, they'll have to shut defrost on a WHOLE LOT of 'em to help avoid brownouts!  

I'm not real jazzed about my fridge talking to anyone. I don't need it to display anything other than fridge and freezer box temperatures.

That said, Ted and Bob may be oversimplifying - though a typical fridge compressor uses 100-200 Watts, defrost and ice harvester trigger resistance heating elements that use a good deal more, 400-600 Watts. Whether those loads are worth choking off during utility peaks is open to question.

Refrigerators were determined to contribute the most to the capacity for energy storage, among residential "thermostatically controlled loads" -- such as AC, electric water heaters, and refrigerators.  In CA, the capacity for energy storage from all these residential electric loads was estimated at 8-11 GWh.


This is discussed in the paper entitled "Using Residential Electric Loads for Fast Demand Response:  The Potential Resources and Revenues, the Costs, and Policy Recommendations" by Johanna L. Mathieu, Mark Dyson, and Duncan S. Callaway of UC Berkeley, here:



Latosha Thomas

June 27, 2013

EPA Strengthens Energy Star Requirements for Refrigerators and Freezers
Encourages “connected” features, including smart grid functionality

– The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revised its Energy Star requirements for residential refrigerators and freezers. The updated requirements raise the bar for energy efficiency in these products and, for the first time, encourage manufacturers of Energy Star appliances to include optional “connected” features. These features would offer consumers more ways to reduce the energy consumption of their refrigerators and freezers, help lower their utility bills, and better protect the environment and the climate.

Under the new standards, Energy Star certified refrigerators and freezers will use at least 10 percent less energy than models meeting 2014 federal minimum efficiency standards. If all refrigerators and freezers sold in the United States were to meet the updated requirements, energy cost savings would grow to more than $890 million each year and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of those from more than one million vehicles. Additionally, by recycling an old refrigerator and replacing it with a new Energy Star certified refrigerator, consumers can save from $150–$1,100 on energy costs over the product’s lifetime.

“We can all do our part in meeting the challenge of climate change,” said Janet McCabe, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. “By choosing Energy Star appliances, families can save energy, save money, and reduce carbon pollution.”

Certain Energy Star refrigerators and freezers with connected features will provide consumers new convenience and energy-saving opportunities. These products will allow consumers to view real-time energy use, receive energy-related messages, such as an alert when the door has been left open, and manage appliance settings remotely. Refrigerators and freezers with connected functionality will also be “smart grid”-ready, meaning that with consumer permission, they will be able to respond to utility signals, including curtailing operations during more expensive peak demand times.

To earn the Energy Star label, product performance must be certified by an EPA-recognized third party, based on testing in an EPA-recognized laboratory. The updated Energy Star refrigerator and freezer specification will go into effect on September 15, 2014.

Products, homes, and buildings that earn the Energy Star label prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. EPA. In 2012 alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $24 billion on their utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to those of 50 million vehicles. To date, more than 1.4 million new homes and 20,000 facilities, including offices, schools, hospitals, and industrial plants have earned the Energy Star label. Learn more: www.energystar.gov

More information on the updated Energy Star refrigerators and freezers specification: https://www.energystar.gov/products/specs/node/125


Refrigerators and freezers with connected functionality will also be “smart grid”-ready, meaning that with consumer permission, they will be able to respond to utility signals, including curtailing operations during more expensive peak demand times.

THIS is the key to reducing energy costs !!


Is there data showing that stopping a 100 watt refrigerator compressor during an afternoon peak does anything significant other than softening ice cream and warming my beer?

What are the food safety ramifications of varying interior temperature?

I could use a fridge that would beep if its door is open more than a minute or so, and possibly send a text message or email after 5 minutes or so.

I haven't the slightest interest in allowing a utility company control the temperature of my beer!

There are much more significant gains to be made offering consumers opportunities to shift MAJOR loads, such as air conditioning, clothes drying, water heating and pool pumping to off-peak hours

Agreed, shutting off the fridge compressor isn't going to save your electric bill but when rates are 4X what off peak costs, turning the temp up a little may save a quarter per day. Other than that I see no purpose for a grid connected fridge.

You're right the AC is a MUCH bigger load with a much larger potential for savings.


A quarter per day! How so?

Suppose a typical full size fridge uses 1.5 kWh / day (many do better)

Suppose also the peak period is 6 hours long, say from 1 to 7 PM

Reducing fridge power during peak (1.5 / (6/24)) by 50% from 0.375 kwh to 0.1875 kwh saves just 0.1875 kwh

If that saves $0.25, that implies a peak kwh rate of $1.33! Who pays anywhere near that?



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