Do Mini Fridges Use a Lot of Electricity?

The problem with answering the question do mini fridges use a lot of electricity?

is that the answer can pretty much be boiled down to ‘it depends’. There are a lot of factors at play. On this page, we want to talk to you a little bit about energy consumption in mini-fridges. We also want to discuss a little bit about how you can keep energy consumption to the absolute minimum.

Do mini fridges use a lot of electricity?

To answer this question, you need to know exactly how a fridge works.

Contrary to popular belief, fridges are not constantly cooling. They only kick in when the temperature rises above a certain amount. If the temperature doesn’t get beyond this figure, then the mini fridge will just be ticking along, not really doing much beyond consuming the minimum amount of power. When the fridge gets hotter inside (more on this in a short while), the cooling mechanism will kick in and this is what consumes the power.

You can get a rough idea of how much electricity your mini fridge will consume each year by looking at the star rating. In the United States, if a mini-fridge wants to achieve an Energy Star rating, it should be
consuming the following (at the maximum):

  • Around 240 kWh per year if there is no auto-defrost.
  • Around 320 kWh per if there is some auto-defrost functionality built into the fridge.

It is likely that when you use your mini-fridge, you will be consuming a little bit more than the ‘quoted’ kWh in the mini-fridge specification. This is because of all of the factors that can influence mini-fridge energy consumption. However, we doubt that even in the most extreme circumstances, your mini-fridge will be consuming more than $30 of energy per year. That is the ‘worst case’ scenario. Smaller mini-fridges that come from some of the bigger brands are likely to consume a lot less energy than this.

So, the most basic answer to ‘do mini fridges use a lot of electricity?’ is that in the grand scheme of things they really don’t. They probably will be one of the more expensive appliances to run in your home, but when you factor this in other the course of the year, the cost is negligible. It will cost you a cent or two per day to keep it running. This is basically nothing

If you want to find out exactly how much it is costing you to run your mini-fridge each year, you can get a rough idea by looking at the kWh listed in the fridge specifications and comparing this to how much your energy provider is charging you.

Are mini-fridges more efficient than a full-size fridge?

Mini-fridges are nowhere near as efficient as their full-size counterparts. The amount of energy consumed per cubic foot is far, far lower in a full-sized refrigerator. Of course, running a larger fridge is going to cost you a lot more in the way of money, but if you need that space, it is better to have one large fridge rather than several mini-fridges. Although, to be honest, the difference in price is only going to be a couple of dollars over the course of a year. Many people may not even have space for the full-size fridge, so this needs to be factored into the equation too.

What influences how much energy a mini-fridge consumes?

As we said; there are a lot of things which can influence just how much energy your mini-fridge is consuming. If you want to keep the mini-fridge churning along, consuming the minimum amount of power,
then you need to follow these tips. There is a good chance that you will be able to shave a couple of dollars off of your energy bills each month.

Check the kWh

When you buy a mini-fridge, you should always check the kWh. You will want to ensure that the product has an Energy Star rating (nearly all of them will). You want the number to be as low as possible, while also ensuring that you have the right amount of space and the fridge is within your budget. It is a careful balancing act.

Do bear in mind that the number given in the specifications is just an average. This number has been gained from running the fridge in almost perfect normal conditions. You may find that your energy consumption will be higher or lower than this. The number is just a guideline to help you to differentiate between the minifridges a little bit better.

Brand of the mini-fridge

If you want a mini-fridge that consumes the smallest amount of power possible, then opt for a decent brand.

They are far more energy-efficient. Part of the reason for their efficiency is because they are insulated a little bit better. They use high-quality components too, which means that the fridge will be getting down to your desired temperature far quicker. This means that there will be a lower amount of energy consumption.

You must also remember that better brands of mini-fridge will last a lot longer. So, not only will you be saving money on your mini fridge energy bills, but you will also be saving money (in the long run) in not needing to replace that mini-fridge any time soon. If you purchase a cheap no-name mini-fridge, then you can expect the bills to be astonishingly high. You will barely be able to get a couple of years of use out of the fridge too.

Age of the mini-fridge

If you are going to buy a mini-fridge, make sure that you always buy brand new. The older the fridge gets, the less efficient it is. You must also remember that older fridges tend not to be made with the latest technology. This means that even quality brands from the past won’t be anywhere near as efficient as their more recent counterparts.

In fact, to give you an idea of just how much the age of a mini-fridge will impact the energy consumption; it is not uncommon to find that mini-fridges made 5-10-years ago have double the energy consumption of a
more recent mini-fridge. Could you imagine spending $60 per year to run your mini-fridge as opposed to $30?

The savings that you make buying something newer, which is likely to last longer, will start to add up rather quickly.

Amount of use it gets

Each time you open up your mini-fridge, you are going to be letting in warm air. As that warm air rushes in, the cold air will escape. Once that door is shut, the mini-fridge will need to work exceedingly hard to bring the inside temperature up again. This is something that happens every single time you open the door. The less you open your mini-fridge, the less energy it will consume.

Temperature the mini-fridge is set to

The lower the mini-fridge temperature, the more energy it will consume. You will need to think about the types of things you are putting in your fridge. This will impact the temperature. You don’t want to set it too high if, for instance, you are putting in a lot of cold meat. If the minimum temperature of the mini-fridge is set too high, then it is more likely that bacteria will start to form on the meat. If you are just storing cans of drink in your fridge, then it probably doesn’t need to be set too low. just having a cold can is more than enough for most people.

The amount being stored in the mini-fridge

The more cold items you have in the fridge, the easier it is for the fridge to maintain the temperature.

If you just have a single can in the fridge and you are constantly opening and closing it, you will find that the item is consuming a lot more power than if you had 3-4 cans in there.

After all, if there are a ton of items in there, not only can a lot less hot air get in, but the items will be naturally cooling their surroundings.

If you want to ensure that your mini-fridge is always operating at peak efficiency, you will want to ensure that you are storing as much in it as you possibly can. Empty fridges are bad for saving money on your energy bills!

The temperature of the items you put into the fridge

Anything that you put into the fridge should be at least room temperature. Do not put hot food in the fridge, for instance.

The fridge will consume a whopping amount of power to bring the ambient temperature back down. It is much more energy efficient to leave your food out (and covered) until it has cooled down, and then you can stick it in the fridge.

The location of the fridge

Finally: the location of the fridge will have an impact. If it is covered or stored near a warm area (i.e. close to a radiator), then it is going to be warmer. This means that it needs to work harder to cool down. The most energy-efficient fridges are those that are placed in cooler areas. If you can ensure that the back of the fridge is not covered, this is going to be even better for you.


In conclusion, mini-fridges are probably some of the biggest energy-guzzling appliances in your home. However, there are ways in which you can reduce the energy consumption of your mini-fridge. If you put the tips on this page into action, your mini-fridge will barely cost you $20-$30 per year to run.

Steven Carr

Steven is a certified IT professional and gaming enthusiast. He has been working in the tech industry for over 10 years, and specializes in all things Tech-related. When he's not geeking out over the latest hardware or software release, he can be found testing out the latest video game.

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