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How to Buy a Refrigerator

Refrigerator

Buying a new refrigerator and freezer is not the same task that it was when you purchased your last model. Considering most people spend about 15 years with the same refrigerator, making the right choice today means getting the new facts and features down cold.

Buying a top-freezer or side-by-side refrigerator model is a matter of personal preference and available space. A refrigerator door should be able to swing completely open so bins can be pulled out for loading and cleaning. The door should also open away from the work triangle and have 15 inches counter space on the handle side.

Side-by-side refrigerators work well in galley kitchens because their narrow doors require less space to open. Although a side-by-side freezer compartment offers more cubic feet of storage at more-accessible levels, the unit’s shelves and doors are sometimes too small to hold larger containers and bulky frozen items.

Top-freezer refrigerators make the best use of storage space, are less expensive and are the most efficient to operate.

Fashion hasn’t forgotten this appliance. White-on-white or all-black styling creates a clean, sleek look to coordinate with your kitchen decor. Softer styling and rounded edges make icebox images a thing of the past.

Built-in refrigerators accept custom cabinetry door panels so the appliance blends right in with the rest of the kitchen. Interior storage space is the same as in freestanding models, but the cost is considerably higher.

Figuring how many cubic feet of space you’ll need is the next deciding factor. Beyond these guidelines, consider your lifestyle: how often do you eat at home, how often do you shop for fresh foods, how far you are from the grocery store and how often do you entertain? Don’t pay to cool more space than you’ll use, but don’t scrimp, either. An overfilled unit will have limited air circulation and cost more to operate.

Energy savings and environmental preservation are important considerations Read the model’s EnergyGuide label for the estimated yearly operating cost and make sure the unit meets the Department of Energy’s standards. Basically, the larger, self-defrosting units use more energy, especially side-by-side models.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are another big issue. These ozone-depleting compounds have been used in refrigerator insulation for years. Many manufacturers are already voluntarily reducing the amount of CFCs in refrigerators and using alternative insulations. While manufacturers work on new techniques without CFCs, they also are recycling used refrigerator freon to repair old models.

Finally, choose your refrigerator by the following features that will help keep food fresh longer and make food easier to prepare:

• Through-the-door ice and water dispenser (some models include a nightlight feature and offer more than one form of ice.)

• Door storage that holds gallon-size containers.

• Adjustable refrigerator and freezer door bins.

• Flip-down door-serving tray for access to frequently used items.

• Adjustable slide-out shelves for easy viewing and cleaning.

• Separate temperature and humidity controls for meat, fruit and vegetable compartments.

• Clear shelves and storage bins.

• Fingerprint-proof or custom-panel doors.

• Programmable electronic controls with exterior temperature readouts

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