Buying the right refrigerator comes down to identifying the features you care about most (such as a bottom freezer, an in-door ice and water unit or a stainless-steel finish) while staying within your budget. Because this appliance will be on all the time, energy efficiency is key.
- Efficiency. When comparing energy usage on various models, don’t simply rely on the Energy Star designation. Check the label on the actual machines to see how many kilowatts per hour they each use and at what cost.
- The right size. Refrigerator interiors are measured in cubic feet, but that number can be misleading because it includes the space taken up by the freezer, shelves and bins. For two to four people, an 18-cubic-foot refrigerator should suffice.
- Temperature- and humidity-controlled drawers. This handy feature helps your meats, fish and cold cuts last longer by setting drawers at different levels.
- Extended warranties. According to Consumer Reports, most refrigerators (and appliances, for that matter) don’t break down easily—and if they do, repairs on average cost the same as a warranty.
- Cost: Bottom-freezer refrigerators start at $700. French-door models start at $1,200.
Bonus tip: For a flush look, consider fridges that are the depth of your cabinet. Built-ins are much more expensive to buy and operate.
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