Buy the Best Refrigerator for Your Needs

by Barb Hopkins

best refrigeratorThe refrigerator stands as one of the most used appliances in the house. Home refrigerators appeared in the U.S. in the early 1900s. By the 1950s, refrigerators were common in American homes and even boasted special features such as automatic ice makers. Today, you can find so many styles of refrigerators and special features, it can be difficult to decide what’s best for your specific needs. Here’s a guide to help you find a refrigerator to suit your family and lifestyle.

Refrigerator Size Matters

If the refrigerator doesn’t fit the space, it’s not the right one for your home. To determine the correct size needed, you can refer to the dimensions of your current refrigerator, or you can measure the space allotted for the new fridge. To measure the space, three measurements are needed: height, width and depth. Check out the Sears guide for reference on proper measuring.

When measuring, don’t forget to add an extra inch on each side for clearance. This clearance allows airflow, helping refrigerator efficiency.


The capacity, or amount of cubic space, you need from a refrigerator is going to depend on a variety of factors. These include:

  • Number of people in your household
  • How many home-cooked meals you prepare weekly
  • How much fresh food you typically buy vs. frozen food

According to CNet, about 4 to 6 cubic feet of fresh storage is adequate for each adult in your home.


Whether you’re online shopping for a refrigerator at or visiting your local store, it’s important to consider the style appliance that best fits your needs. Refrigerator prices will vary depending on model, size, features and manufacturer.

  • Top freezer: These units typically use about 10 to 25 percent less energy than other models but have a smaller total capacity than a bottom freezer model. Sometimes reaching items at the back of the freezer can be difficult.
  • Bottom freezer: The freezer may be a drawer or a swinging door and requires you to bend down to reach freezer items. However, the fresh food in the main fridge area is at eye level.
  • Side-by-side: Both the freezer and fresh food compartment are tall vertical spaces, with the doors placed side by side, opening like a pair of French doors. Often this style comes with in-door ice and water dispensers. High-tech features such as in-door computer or television screens are also available on some models.
  • French door: The top portion features side-by-side doors for fresh food, and the bottom is a drawer for the freezer. This style is also available in an extra-large capacity.

Special Features

Modern refrigerators offer many conveniences and special features. These include:

  • In-door ice and water dispensers
  • Door compartments to hold gallon jugs
  • Tilting side-pocket bins in freezers (easier to remove items)
  • Quick chill compartments (perfect for wine)
  • Multiple climate and humidity controls (keeps veggies fresh longer)
  • Adjustable, spill-proof antibacterial shelves
  • Wine racks
  • LED lighting (to find your midnight snack easier)
  • In-door message centers with LED tablet
  • Digital sensors


The U.S. Department of Energy mandates that ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators are required to use 15 percent less energy than non-certified models. Choosing an ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator can cut your energy bills by more than $80 over the lifetime of your fridge. At, you can use the ENERGY STAR savings calculator to determine how much energy and money you may save.


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