Need a new fridge, what?
April 19, 2011 3:33 PM   Subscribe

I have to buy a fridge and I don't how important things are.

Newly separated, everything gone's to shit this week (internet broke due to change in accounts, system crash the next day and I got no technician anymore, I finally got guitar strings but the pegs in the guitar broke, the ex got a new and better job - damn him while I got another reject letter for a local job - it takes me a minimum of 3 hours to get to my casual job by public transport, I think I tore the ligaments in my right arm carrying stuff there, and my buffer pay from one job has gone astray because I changed bank accounts on account of leaving the old man, so I have very little money), and now the ex's dead grandmother's 25 year old fridge has died. In the interim, I'm using an esky with ice, and I have my sister-in-law's dad's 25 year old freezer. I quit my job to move home, but because my current work is casual and/or I'm not bankrupt or a bad debt, the rental guys won't even consider me.

A. So, do those star rating (Australia) make much of a difference to my electricity bill?

There's two of us, me and the 20 year old son (who doesn't look like moving out). I like lots of vegetables.
B. Just how big a fridge do I need? 177L? 350L?

I have no car (see what I mean about everything going to shit?),
C. how likely am I to be able to haggle over the phone, rather than driving around to all the suppliers?

D. Given that I have a (prehistoric) chest freezer, would you say, get a fridge without, or would you say - "OMG, your luck is so bad that's probably going to die soon too, better get one with?"

E. Is there an easy way to do this?

F. Which is easier to keep clean, artic white or burnished steel?

G. What question should I have asked but didn't know to?

H. How the hell do I get rid of the old one, or should I just roll it out the door, and onto it's back and grow bitter flowers out of it?
posted by b33j to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry for all you're going through. A few thoughts:

On the plus side, a new fridge will be MUCH more energy efficient than a 25 year old one, so your electric bill will improve no matter what. You may want to look into your local laws about disposing of the old one; they may require you to get it picked up specially -- often the appliance store that delivers the new one can take away the old one, so ask about that. (may only be true in the US?)

White is easier to keep clean than actual steel, since actual steel shows fingerprints and grease --but they do make fridges that have fake metallic finishes (actually made of plastic) which are break-even with white, as far as keeping clean, IMO.

In the US, you can often get a cheaper price if you are willing to buy the "floor model" at the appliance store, which sometimes has cosmetic problems like a dent or scratch in the finish.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:55 PM on April 19, 2011

Besides this post making me want to lock myself in a freezer, I'd just say that it might really be worth your trouble to find your way to a supplier to look at different models first hand.
- Once you're comparing models you'll be able to more easily determine how big a fridge you'll need.
- Vegetables (root vs leafy) need different types of cold bins
- We were suggested to buy a fridge with the freezer that pulls out on the bottom. Bad idea for us, it's a pain to pull out frozen stuff from way down there (and too small, too). But it has a single door, and fit the space best.
- white (any color) will be much easier than brushed stainless to keep looking good.
May your new fridge bring you much happiness!
posted by artdrectr at 3:58 PM on April 19, 2011

Actually, where is it (the old one)? That is, what city's laws do we need to look up to figure out how to dispose of it? In some places you can also get a tax credit or other incentive if you buy a new energy-efficient one, that might be something else to look into.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:58 PM on April 19, 2011

I wish you weren't in Australia; it'd be easier to help you out and you sound like someone who needs some. Can't speak to local market realities and product choices. Can't even speak metric, but here goes:

F. White's easier to keep clean. The metal one's smudge.

H. Call your local electric utility. Here in California they'll haul it away for you and give you a credit on your next bill.

Good luck and hang in there.
posted by notyou at 4:00 PM on April 19, 2011

I'm in Ipswich. The refuse tip takes them but you have to get them there yourself. I like the idea of picking a shop where they take it away.
posted by b33j at 4:03 PM on April 19, 2011

If you are struggling for money, and it sounds like you are, you might want to consider a "refurbished" fridge. We (in Canberra) got one eight years ago from a guy who advertises them in the classifieds. It cost $40 and is still going strong. He delivered, and took away our broken one, because he claims he can fix anything and then resell it. Maybe worth asking/looking around?
posted by lollusc at 4:17 PM on April 19, 2011

A. The stars are kind of an arbitrary rating based on energy usage versus size. Skip it and look at the energy usage in kWh (plainly labeled in the middle). Multiply the kWh/year times how much electricity costs you per kWh to tell you how much you're gonna spend in electricity with that refrigerator per year.

B. The size is usually 10 cubic feet for two people, plus 1.5 cubic feet per additional person for the refrigerator alone. 10 cubic feet = 283L.

D. Is the chest freezer efficient and do you keep it full? If it's not being used much and/or it's inefficient then get rid of it.

F. If you don't mind seeing fingerprints all of the time, steel looks nicer IMO, but white appears cleaner.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:17 PM on April 19, 2011

Can't help you much with the non-refrigerator issues, but as to selection of frig, delivery, disposal of old one, and efficiency:
  • In the U.S., we have what are called "Energy Star" appliance models, which generally have more efficient motors and thicker sidewall and backwall insulation than standard models, but in Australia, your Energy Star program doesn't cover home appliances. But you might use Web sites like to find the highest Energy Rated models in your market. Your refrigerator is one of your home's largest year 'round power demands, so a combination of electrical and thermal efficiency is worth paying for, 3 or 4 times over, over the life of a typical refrigerator (10+ years); in a world where energy prices continue to increase, that multiple may be low, by the end of life of unit you purchase now. However, extra electrical and thermal efficiency do have some upfront cost to your pocket; if money is tight, you may be sorely tempted to pass on efficiency, to save a little money upfront, but in doing so, you'll also be letting yourself in, generally, for more compressor and fan noise, too. If it helps you in real world terms, I replaced a 10 year old non-Energy Star 19 cu. ft. GE top freezer two door model with a same sized Energy Star compliant Maytag model about 6 months ago. The old machine was running its compressor way too much, and had ceased to be able to get the freezer compartment cold enough to make ice automatically. The new machine has been so much more efficient, in comparison to the worn out old one, that I'm saving about $38 a month in electricity cost, in one of the cheapest electricity markets in the U.S. (northern Florida). And, the new machine is whisper quiet, and makes twice as much ice in 24 hours as I can possibly use, even charging my portable cold chests for fishing trips and trips to the grocery store regularly. I haven't bought bag ice since I got the new refrigerator, which is probably another $10 to $15 a month "savings."
  • White is a lot easier to keep looking clean than metallic finishes.
  • I bought my new machine on the Web, from Home Depot. The transaction was painless, and I got a better "Web deal" on a highly reviewed new frig, than was offered in the stores, locally, by about $80. The model I bought wasn't even on the floor at my local Home Depot, and had I relied on store visits to frame my selection, I'd have never known about the model I eventually bought. And I got free delivery/free takeaway of my old machine, for my Web purchase. Thus, I was able to afford the optional 5 year extended warranty, which is worth it here in North Florida, where we get incredible thunderstorm activity, with hundreds of "electrical spikes" per year that can damage appliances, and I still paid less, total, than I would have buying from a local brick and mortar store.

posted by paulsc at 4:26 PM on April 19, 2011

b33j, we're a household of 3 (42 year old woman, 12 year old & 9 year old kids), we have a fridge with a capacity of 198 litres and the freezer on top is 86 litres. It's ample for us, probably because the moveable shelving makes it easier to pack well. We have the crisper full of vegies most of the time and the freezer is big enough for us (but I cook most stuff fresh, we usually have very little frozen food on hand).

Do you use the whole chest freezer, or is it only partly full? Maybe take how much of it you actually use into consideration when deciding if you need a fridge/freezer combo.

White is easier to keep clean (although you don't have small dirty child fingerprints to worry about). I've got a feeling white is also less expensive but I'm not sure.

I'd start with ringing your local whitegoods places, tell them roughly what size you want and ask what they can offer you. Check online for any with "we'll beat our competitors offer" deals. It won't hurt to ask too if they can remove the old one.

I don't know of any retail shop that both deliver the new one and remove the old one, but you know what I'd do? Ring the Salvation Army or a local church, tell them what a bad run of luck you're having, and ask if someone could remove the old fridge for you or if they know of someone who could. Regardless of your religious inclinations, hopefully you could find a kind-hearted soul who would help you out.

I hope things take a turn for the better very soon.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:27 PM on April 19, 2011

Oh, b33j, this is a bad time. Keep calm and carry on.

I'd think that a fridge/freezer combo would be more energy efficient, plus there's the emotional advantage of not worrying about the old freezer, and not feeling cursed when the old freezer goes boom. You don't need that right now!

Here's a used model on Brisbane Craigslist....

Good luck to you. This, too, shall pass.
posted by cyndigo at 4:34 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Please be sure to measure the spot you'll be putting the fridge in. I went with a buddy, the salesman assured him that all 17 cf. fridges were the same size. Except the one we ended up with was a 1/2" too wide. Ended up carving the counter top down with a grinder.
posted by Marky at 4:54 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Given that I have a (prehistoric) chest freezer, would you say, get a fridge without, or would you say - 'OMG, your luck is so bad that's probably going to die soon too, better get one with?'"

If you keep things long term in your freezer a chest is much better than the freezer in fridge/freezer combos. Temperatures are lower and are maintained more consistently. If you just keep frozen peas, ice cream and ice cubes then you won't notice but meat especially is better stored in a chest freezer.

"Which is easier to keep clean, artic white or burnished steel?"

White is easier to keep clean. Probably cheaper to buy too.
posted by Mitheral at 4:57 PM on April 19, 2011

Thank you all - this is fantastic.

I've sent an email to the council asking about pickup of old fridges.
I've found several secondhand places, that deliver and I'm sorting between the options.
I've decided to get a white one, with a freezer (because of your excellent advice)
The chest freezer is hardly used at all at the moment, I'm dreaming of once a month cooking eventually.
And the space it's going into is being measured as I type.

But also, apart from the fridge advice - thanks so much for the sympathy, in thread and memail, because pretty much right now, I feel like a big useless wuss and your kind words helped so much.

I'll let you know how it goes.
posted by b33j at 5:06 PM on April 19, 2011

It will be OK. Truly.

Not to jinx, but I think this is important. You're buying a used frig because it's what's best for you right now, financially. This is good, and may it serve you many happy years. But you mentioned something about bad luck, so it's key to remember that appliances, new and used, they're just machines. Machines up and die, sometimes old, sometimes new.

That has nothing absolutely to do with you, or with luck. I have a friend whose had THREE new freezers go on him the last couple years. He's a serious cook, with a lot of spendy and time-consuming goodies lost.

TL;DR Never let an inanimate appliance get you down. That's what people are for! ;-)
posted by cyndigo at 5:17 PM on April 19, 2011

White is cheaper and easier to clean than steel. I actually have a black fridge, but that's because we just remodeled our kitchen.

I wouldn't EVER go under 20 cubic feet (Google says that is 566.336932 liters) for a refrigerator. No one ever says, "I have too much room in my fridge!".

Whatever the size, I recommend NOT getting a freezer on the bottom because you will spend way too much time bending down. We used to have ours on the top and thought we'd always do that, but we have a side-by-side now and love it, so I think either of those options will probably work. DO get a freezer, though, because those stand-up ice chests conk out, yours is old, and I'm pretty sure your electricity bill will be less with just one appliance plugged in instead of one.

Research online. I'd still go to at least one store to open the doors, stick your head in,check out the sizes of the fridges, but if you do your research you shouldn't have to travel all over town to find the best price. If you get a new fridge, they will usually take the old one away. A refurbished fridge is a lot cheaper, though.

Even though I live in Florida, too, I disagree with paulsc about extended warranties. I normally would advise against buying one. I was born in Florida and have never had a refrigerator taken out by lightning (we do have surge protectors on our TVs and stereos); you are in even less danger of this happening than I am. If you are going to have an electrical problem because of a product defect, that will happen very soon after purchase and be covered by warranty. After that, there is a period of stability, and then once you reach the natural life of the appliance the possibility of it breaking goes up again. This is known as the "bathtub curve" and explains why retailers offer an extended warranty, because they will seldom need to pay out on it. It's generally a ripoff*; I think you can skip that.

*I have found the exception is Apple Care. The convenience of phone support and extradited service is worth it to me.
posted by misha at 5:25 PM on April 19, 2011

I've sourced locally (by email with photos provided) a white 5 year old secondhand Fisher and Paykel 442L for $420 with a months warranty that will fit in our fridge hole, they'll deliver tomorrow and if they have room* in the truck, they'll take the old fridge away. *i think that means if they think they can get it working and resell it.

Our current (dead) fridge has been a little large for us (family of 4 is now 2), and I've been concerned about the costs of running, so allow me to be the first to say I have too much room in my fridge.

I don't actually believe in luck - coincidentally, some unpleasant things have happened when I've least been able to cope, but it's a good point, and I'm not going to assume that any failure of appliance is a direct attack. Also, I could probably do with a frig, though not used, (but I think that is a different AskMe) as well as a fridge :)

Thank you all again. You really helped me work out exactly what I needed to do. xxxx
posted by b33j at 6:39 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

Just found the frig joke. Glad to see you haven't lost your sense of humour!
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:59 AM on April 20, 2011

Yay, it's here! And it's much nicer than the one that died (which didn't leave unfortunately - it was too old, they said - so much for 'room', but that's not an insurmountable problem). Thanks, everybody.
posted by b33j at 1:15 AM on April 21, 2011

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