Has your family grown since you last bought a fridge freezer? Are you eating more fresh or frozen food than your current fridge freezer can handle? If you’ve having to upgrade your appliance for something bigger and better, yet keep household bills as low as possible, you’ll be looking for the most energy efficient models for your budget.
Fridges, freezers and fridge freezers are available in so many different sizes and configurations. If you’re redesigning your kitchen, think hard about the type of fridge freezer you want before deciding on the layout. These are the 3 main types:
If you’re replacing your old fridge freezer, you’ll probably want the same type to fill the space your broken machine once occupied. Fridge freezers have evolved significantly in recent years so learn which handy features you can benefit from by skipping ahead to our fridge freezer features section below.
Fridges with small freezer compartments will only keep food safely frozen for a short time compared with a proper freezer. Always check the star rating before buying.
Buying a new fridge freezer will cost you anywhere between £200 and over £3000 depending on the style, brand and features you want. It’s a huge purchase that needs to fit in with your lifestyle if you’re to get the best out of it.
Begin your search by thinking about these key things:
When you install a new fridge you need to allow at least 6 hours for the gases inside to settle before switching it on.
Before you do anything else, sizing up the space your new fridge or freezer will occupy is priority number one. It’s vital that you measure accurately, factoring in extra space at the back (depth) and sides (width) to allow air to circulate. As a rule, allow a 5cm gap at the back and a 2cm gap around the sides - this breathing room will prevent your fridge freezer from overheating.
Fridge capacity is usually measured in litres but don’t take this too literally. These measurements are mostly based on how much your fridge could hold if all the drawers, shelves and racks were taken out - which isn’t how we use a fridge. Which? testing found that some models had up to 25% less space than advertised for this reason.
Buying tip: How to measure up for your new fridge freezer:
This ultimately comes down how much food you think you’ll fill it with. A fridge freezer will save you space but if you are a large family that likes to fill your freezer with bulk buys and homemade leftovers, the freezer compartment of a fridge freezer might not be big enough for your needs.
On the other hand, if you’re a couple that uses a lot of fresh food and eats out a lot, you might not need a separate freezer. Fridge freezers are available in different splits of 50:50, 60:40 and 70:30, depending on which type of food you’re likely to eat most.
Freestanding fridge freezers
Integrated fridges and freezers
American fridge freezers
Every fridge freezer has a climate class, which tells you the range of room temperatures it’s designed to work in. Most fridge freezers will work in rooms that range from 10°C to 32°C.
Buying tip: Did you know you can keep fruit and veg fresh for up to 12 days by keeping the temperature between -1 and +1 degrees? Look out for fridge freezers that are frost free, have antibacterial linings, hygiene protection and, like some of Hotpoint’s models, Active Oxygen functions. Find out more here.
Once you know the size and type of fridge freezer you need, start thinking about how you might use it and which features will benefit you most. Like any domestic appliance purchase, more features means more expensive but can ultimately mean less energy consumption and longer lifetime.
Adjustable shelves - these give you the flexibility to set the space as you want it
Glass shelves - prevents juices dripping onto food below
Smooth-sliding freezer drawers - these should be easy to use and not stick
Adjustable door racks - lets you create more space if you need to store taller bottles
Quick chill - cools food faster, especially useful for a new load of shopping
Fast freeze - keeps food fresher for longer
Frost-free - the feature to invest in! Works by pumping cold air around the freezer, stopping the build-up of ice. You’ll never have to defrost your freezer again
Auto defrost - stops ice forming at the back of the fridge while preserving your food perfectly
Chiller cabinet - stores meat and fish at an extra cold 0°C
Humidity controlled salad crisper drawers - locks moisture in to help fruit and veg to last longer
Sensors - monitors temperature fluctuations within the fridge and makes adjustments, very useful when unloading groceries
Water dispenser - gives you filtered water and instant ice on tap. Most of these need to be plumbed into mains water which can be difficult and expensive to install. Some models have removable water tanks that you fill from the tap
Digital displays - shows actual and required temperatures, allowing you to easily control the temperature of your food
Audible alarm - lets you know if the temperature is getting too warm, e.g. the door is left ajar
Holiday mode - stops the fridge wasting energy keeping really cool if there’s no fresh produce in there
Antibacterial coating - this coating on the walls and door prevents bacteria growth in your fridge
Wine rack / bottle holder - storage for wine or bottles for easier access
Other factors that will affect the price include the style and finish. Colours, brushed or stainless steel finishes are more expensive.
Buying tip: If buying a fridge freezer with a water dispenser, the water filters need changing on these every six months, costing from £20 to £90 each time. Check how expensive the brand's water filters are before you buy
Fridges and freezers are switched on around the clock, so investing in the most energy efficient model for your budget will always save you money.
Each appliance has to have an energy efficiency grading, as required by EU law. The grading for fridge freezers starts at D and goes up to A+++. These labels are a good indicator but they don’t tell the whole story, before buying you want to know how much your fridge freezer will cost to run each year. Some retailers will give you estimates for yearly running costs based on energy consumption, average costs of electricity and VAT.
The best models will cost you less than £25 to run per year with running costs creeping up to nearly £90 for less efficient appliances. Add up these costs over a fridge’s lifetime and you could end up spending way more than you need to. Generally speaking, the more you pay out for the appliance upfront, the better technology you’re paying for that contributes to optimal performance and minimum energy wasted.
As a fridge freezer is a large appliance, expect to pay to have it delivered. A lot of retailers will also dispose of your old fridge freezer too for an extra fee.
Often you can book and pay for installation and disposal when you place your order (if buying online), this service might be limited if you live in a remote area. Your old fridge freezer that is being taken away should be disconnected, empty and dry.
Offers huge storage space, advanced technology and multiple doors.
Saves floor space by combining a fridge and freezer into one appliance.
Tall fridges can hold more groceries whereas undercounter models are ideal for limited spaces or can be used as a secondary fridge.
Larger capacity and easy access to food. Match your tall freezer with a fridge from the same range to complete your kitchen.
Opens at the top and has huge capacity. Some can be placed in outbuildings or garages to save space in the kitchen.
Keeps your wine at ideal serving and ageing temperatures.
How do I keep my fridge smelling fresh?
Keep on top of food that’s going off by checking the contents everyday - don’t forget the salad drawers. Every fortnight, unplug the unit and then wash it out thoroughly with a bleach solution. Wipe down the rubbery gasket around the door each month too.
Which foods shouldn’t be frozen?
Any vegetables with a high water content such as cucumber or bean sprouts as these will go limp and mushy when defrosted. Avoid freezing single cream, cottage cheese and yoghurt too.
What temperature should my fridge be?
Fridges should operate between 0-5°C.
How should I store my food in the fridge?
Door rack: eggs, condiments, jam, fruit juice
Top and middle shelves: butter, cheese, sauces
Lower shelves: milk products, cooked meat
Salad drawer: fresh fruit, salad and vegetables