Most Efficient Small Refrigerators (16 to 19 cubic feet) – Top 3 Picks

A refrigerator is something that’s constantly plugged in, so it’s a great item in your house to try and save on energy costs – as appliances account for 17% of a typical home’s energy usage. We’ve looked at many different energy star rated refrigerators. This list gives you the top 3 efficient small refrigerators (all of these are in the 16 to 19 cubic feet range).

Efficiency was measured by which of these refrigerators uses the least amount of kilowatt hours per year – thus significantly using less energy per refrigerator.

If you would like to see more refrigerators beyond the top 3 that we’ve chosen, simply head over to the Energy Star Refrigerator Search, and select your search parameters. From there, you can sort your results from a variety of fashions, including kilowatt usage, % energy savings, and overall volume.

Here’s the list:


The Sunfrost R-19 is a refrigerator-only model. Instead of one large door, it features two equal sized refrigerator sections. As far as efficiency is concerned, this refrigerator is super efficient. It showcases a kwh/year usage of 204 and uses 53% less energy than the federal standard!

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a freezer or an ice machine, you won’t find it on this refrigerator. However, a real cool feature of this fridge is that it will not need defrosting and the design incorporates a passive cooling system (it does not use any fans). Overall, it’s a solid refrigerator for your home.


The Gaggenau RC472700 is a sleek looking refrigerator that is very energy efficient. It boats a kwh/year usage of 319 and will use 29% less energy than the federal standard. It has a volume of 17.5 cubic feet and is 30 inches wide.

There are numerous features on this refrigerator, including a motorized glass shelf, multi-flow air system, temperature control, and doors that open up to a 115 degree angle!


The GE GTH17BBT is an energy star rated refrigerator/freezer combo. This one features the freezer on the top and the refrigerator on the bottom. Where efficiency matters, this refrigerator has a kwh/year usage of 324, using 30% less energy. It has a volume of 16.6 cubic feet.

Overall, this refrigerator is pretty standard. An optional ice maker is available, and it has all of the typical shelves, crispers, temperature controls, and is available in multiple colors (black, white, and bisque). It can usually be purchased for under $900, so it’s an efficient machine that is cost effective as well…you can’t beat that.

So as we’ve mentioned, a refrigerator is an excellent way to cut back on energy usage in the home. While these refrigerators here might not be the largest of the group, they will definitely help save you money and energy. Try one in your home today.

Do you feel we’ve missed one, or is there a refrigerator that falls in this range that you’re just absolutely crazy about? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Most Efficient – Our New Post Series

At Practical Environmentalist, we’re all about most efficient.

I know that when I buy anything for my own home, I’m always looking for the most efficient model for the money. Whether it’s a water heater, an air conditioning unit, or even the insulation and radiant barrier in my attic, I want to keep my energy usage low.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who cares about that kind of thing, so why not make it a series of posts?

We’re going to cover all kinds of different products and categories, from automobiles to refrigerators to air conditioning units.

Is there anything you’d like to see covered here?

2011 Hybrid cars: here’s the lineup

When the first hybrid cars started to roll out several years ago, it pretty much took the world by surprise, but these days, you can drive down the highway or even side street without seeing some sort of energy efficient car. Manufacturers across the board are becoming more conscious to the needs and wants of their consumers for fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars, trucks and SUVs.

In 2011, we’ll see more hybrid cars on the market than ever. You may recognize come industry regulars, but keep an eye out for some new models from manufacturers who are just getting started on the hybrid front.

Here we go with the 2011 hybrid cars, trucks and SUVs.

Acura – Acura does not offer a hybrid model.

Audi – According to Edmunds.com, this is finally the year for Audi to launch its long-awaited Q5 Hybrid model for 2011. Because the rumors have been circulating about their debut hybrid model 2008, we’re not holding our breath.

BMW – In last year’s 2010 hybrid lineup BMW had two completely different hybrid models. Now it seems BMW is adding to their family of hybrid cars and SUVs. The newest model in their fleet is the 4-wheel drive, ActiveHybrid X5 projected to launch in fall of this year. They’ve kept the Active Hybrid X6 model and made the ActiveHybrid 7 into two similar models: the ActiveHybrid 750Li and the ActiveHybrid 750i.


Image for the ActiveHybrid 750Li from BMW.

Image for the ActiveHybrid 750i from BMW.

Except for about a $4,000 MSRP difference for a few, minor creature comforts in the Li model (i.e., self-leveling air suspension, rear vanity mirrors, etc.), the two seem almost identical in features. Both have a 4.4 liter V-8 engine with TwinPower Turbo technology, and both use a 120-volt, lithiom-ion battery with Brake Energy Regeneration. With a 440 horsepower engine, these BMWs boast to be “The Fastest Hybrid[s] in the World.”

Buick – No Buick Hybrids for 2011.

Cadillac – No Cadillac Hybrids found for 2011.

Cheverolet – Well, it’s finally (almost) here. The Chevy Volt promises to be a game changer in the hybrid world.

Image for the Volt from Chevy.

Using the power of “more than 200 lithiom-ion battery cells,” the Volt is able to travel up to 40 miles on a single charge without using the gas-generator to create electricity to take it extra distances. Chevy claims its first-ever plug-in gas/electric hybrid car will arrive by the end of 2010.

Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep – While hybrid cars are still more popular than hybrid trucks and SUVs, that’s not stopping Dodge from trying the hybrid market (again) in 2011 with the Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 Hybrid scheduled to launch at the end of summer 2010.

Ford – With its fifth year in production, Ford is set to roll out the 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid soon.


Image for the Escape Hybrid from Edmunds.

The new Escape Hybrid will get the same fuel efficiency as the previous model of 34 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, which is still impressive in the compact crossover SUV category.


Image for the Fusion Hybrid from Edmunds.

Ford is also set to launch the 2011 model Fusion Hybrid. In its second year of production, the Fusion Hybrid is proving to be a contender in the hybrid market.

GMC – No GMC Hybrids found for 2011.

Honda – Honda describes their newest hybrid model as, “fun to drive,” and it looks it. The 2011 Honda CR-Z is sleek, sporty and dare I say a little sexy, too.


Image for the CR-Z from Honda.

This two-seater hybrid gets about the same EPA-Estimated mpg as a Smart Car but offers more storage (and more leg room?), the Honda reputation and a competitive price range.

Hyundai – Hyundai has a new Sontata Hybrid rumored to be released this year. With the non-hybrid model already launched, it may be likely that the Sonata Hybrid won’t make the list this year.

Infiniti – Whether it’s a 2011 or a 2012 model, Inifiniti is set to launch it’s first hybrid model soon along with the 2011 M class luxury line. As confusing as the release date is, it is clear that this is the auto manufacturer’s first hybrid model, and will be a welcomed change in the luxury car world.

Kia – According to a Kia press release, along with a new body style, the Kia Optima will also be available as “…the brand’s first-ever hybrid in the U.S. (available in 2011) – which deliver[s] class-leading power and fuel economy while the latest technology features and luxury amenities are available at the touch of a button or a simple voice command.”


Image for the Optima hybrid from Kia.

The body style of the new Optima is also wider, longer and lower to the ground than the previous style. With all new features and a new hybrid option, looks like Kia is getting a major upgrade.

Lexus – Apparently, some hybrids are not just about getting the best fuel efficiency possible and saving the planet. Enter the 2011 Lexus CT 200h that, while it is a hybrid, can turn on a sport mode to transform this eco-friendly wagon into a speed racer with all the normal handling Lexus is famous for.


Image for the Lexus CT 200h from Lexus.

With four different driving modes (EV, ECO, Normal and Sport), this is clearly not your average family sedan. Lexus doesn’t list the MPG on their list of Specs, but their press release does mention that it will come with a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery. Who needs to worry about MPG when you’ve at least got the hybrid battery?

Lincoln – Ok, I was starting to get skeptical when I read the first few lines on the Lincoln website about their hybrid, stating the new MKZ Hybrid is “projected to be the most fuel-efficient luxury car in America.” It seems nearly all the hybrid cars are toting similar tag lines and simply swapping out the words that allows them to legally make these claims. Anyway, I had to keep reading to get more info, and I’m glad I did.


Image for the MKZ Hybrid from Lincoln.

Not only does the MKZ Hybrid boast a 41 city mpg (36 hwy), but Lincoln also took extra steps to make this luxury car more eco-friendly. “Hand-crafted eco-conscious Bridge of Weir leather [and] olive ash wood trim from sustainably sourced forests” help this car push the standards on eco-conscious design and not to mention the fact that it’s all packaged in Lincoln luxury.

Mercedez-Benz – No Mercedez-Benz Hybrids found for 2011.

Mercury – According to Edmunds.com, there will be two new Mercury Hybrid models for the 2011 year, but it looks like Mercury is saying otherwise with the end of the Mercury brand scheduled for the end of this year.

Mitsubishi – No Mitsubishi Hybrids found for 2011.

Nissan – There are currently, no Nissan Hybrids for 2011, but the Nissan Leaf should be a huge hit.

Pontiac – No Pontiac Hybrids found for 2011.

Porsche – While Porsche is widely associated with the early history of cars, it is also associated  with the early history of hybrid cars, so it should be no surprise that finally Porsche is launching a hybrid option. It will be a hybrid model of their Cayenne S.

Image for the Cayenne S Hybrid from Porsche.

While Porsche hasn’t officially (as of this post) released this 300 horsepower hybrid crossover’s estimated fuel consumption, it will run with a V6 engine and maintain the all-wheel drive of the previous non-hybrid Cayenne models.

Saab – No Saab Hybrids found for 2011.

Saturn – No Saturn Hybrids found for 2011.

Subaru – No Subaru Hybrids found for 2011.

Toyota – Starting at a cool $19,595 (MSRP), the 2011 Camry Hybrid may be the most affordable mid-sized sedan Hybrid.


Image for the Camry Hybrid from Toyota.

Not much seems to have changed from the previous model, but hey, if “nothing’s broke, don’t fix it,” right?

Volkswagen – A noticeably lower-to-the-ground version of the previous Touaregs, the first hybrid from VW looks good.

Image for the European model Touareg Hybrid from VW.

VW is boasting more cargo space, lighter body, the largest panoramic sunroof of all SUVs and obviously, reduced fuel consumption. Add the hybrid to their expanding list of clean diesel cars, and it’s easy to see where VW is heading for the future.

Volvo – No Volvo Hybrids for 2011.

Volkswagen TDI real life diesel gas mileage: wow!

Two summers ago (in 2008), I bought a used 2007 Prius.

But it wasn’t my first choice of automobile. You see, what I really wanted to buy was a white 2009 Volkswagen TDI Jetta or Jetta wagon. They were just coming out in the US, and there was a big waiting list.

I put down my deposit and waited, and waited. But after six weeks, there was still nothing in sight for my desired color and options.

The funny part was that there was a huge waiting list for the Prius too, because it was the period of time when gas was really expensive, and everyone was panicking and buying high mileage cars.

One day I called my Volkswagen sales guy to complain and gave him the idle threat, “Oh well, it’s no big deal if you can’t get me a Jetta, I guess. If Toyota calls me and says they have a white Prius first, I’ll just buy that instead.”

That’s when the salesman told me that he actually had a 2007 used white Prius on their Volkswagen lot that they had just taken as a trade in, with only 12,000 miles on it, at a really good price.

So I jumped and bought it. And it’s actually been a great car.

But I still look back and think, “What if I could have gotten a Jetta clean diesel instead?”

Today, by complete accident, I ran into the Volkswagen TDI Tank Wars web site. It’s a site where you can take a photo of your dashboard displaying your real life gas mileage with any TDI clean diesel Volkswagen.

There are real people who are getting 50, 60,  and 70 miles per gallon! The leader got 98 miles per gallon!

You have to drive at least 15 miles before you’re eligible to upload a dashboard photo. But many of these people are showing hundreds or thousands of miles of getting this kind of mileage.

How’s that for awesome?

Check it out yourself at the Volkswagen Tank Wars web site.

What kind of real life mileage have you gotten with your VW clean diesel car, and which model was it?

Leave a comment and tell us!

Most Efficient Large Refrigerators (greater than 24 cubic feet) Top 3 Picks

In the constant quest to save energy, you should never forget about your refrigerator. They run 24 hours per day. Appliances account for about 17 percent of your household’s energy consumption, with refrigerators, clothes washers, and clothes dryers at the top of the list, according to the Department of Energy.

We’ve taken a look at the Energy Star ratings of large refrigerators – the ones here are greater than 24 cubic feet. Based on the lowest use of KWH/year – these are the top three most efficient large refrigerator picks.

If you want to see the rest of the list, you certainly can! Just go over to the Energy Star Refrigerator Search Page and look for the refrigerator that matches your specifications! From there, you can sort them by different options (including total size, kwh/year usage, or even total % of energy saved).


The LG LFC25776 is a french door style refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom. It has a volume of 25 cubic feet, uses 30% less energy, and uses 416 kilowatt hours per year. It’s available in white, black, and stainless steel – so there’s certainly one to match your kitchen.

If you’re a fan of ice makers, there’s not one on this refrigerator – that is a downfall. Other positives though include all LED-lighting, a 4-compartment crisper with deli storage center, and a bottom loading freezer.


The Samsung RF266AEBP is a 26 cubic foot refrigerator that is Energy Star rated. This refrigerator uses 23% less energy, and has a kwh/year usage of 462. It’s a bottom loading refrigerator, and much like the LG refrigerator – does not have an ice machine.

There are lots of great features on this refrigerator – from the cooling systems to the doors. It’s definitely a good one to check out.

This next refrigerator actually falls into a category with many other refrigerators. There are quite a few refrigerators that use 20% less energy at a rate of 476 kw/hr a year. Read below to see why we chose the one we did.


The Whirlpool GX5FHTXVY is a bottom freezer refrigerator that uses 20 percent less energy at a rate of 476 kwh/year. This particular fridge has a bunch of great features such as an interior water dispenser complete with PuR® 6-Month Water Filtration – which helps set it apart from some of the other refrigerators we have spoken of.

Freezer baskets, ice makers, can holder – all the bells and whistles are there. On top of it, it’s an energy star rated refrigerator. At a capacity of 24.8 Cubic Feet it’s still pretty big, and can chill and freeze a lot of your food. There’s nothing but positives to this refrigerator.

So if you’re looking for the most efficient large refrigerator, these are some great options.

Own one of these and like it or hate it? Feel that we should have covered a different model as the most efficient large refrigerator?

Let us know in the comments!