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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Superefficient Refrigerators: Opportunities and Challenges for Efficiency Improvement Globally


As an energy-intensive mainstream product, residential refrigerators present a significant opportunity to reduce electricity consumption through energy efficiency improvements. Refrigerators expend a considerable amount of electricity during normal use, typically consuming between 100 to 1,000 kWh of electricity per annum. This paper presents the results of a technical analysis done for refrigerators in support of the Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) initiative. Beginning from a base case representative of the average unit sold in India, we analyze efficiency improvement options and their corresponding costs to build a cost-versus-efficiency relationship. We then consider design improvement options that are known to be the most cost effective and that can improve efficiency given current design configurations. We also analyze and present additional super-efficient options, such as vacuum-insulated panels. We estimate the cost of conserved electricity for the various options, allowing flexible program design for market transformation programs toward higher efficiency. We estimate ~;160TWh/year of energy savings are cost effective in 2030, indicating significant potential for efficiency improvement in refrigerators in SEAD economies and China.

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