a white mini fridge with the door open on the right side, and a guide logo with the words mini in the middle of it on the left side

A mini fridge is popular with those who live in dorms or tiny apartments or want additional drink space. If you are in the market for a mini fridge, an energy-efficient model is the way to go. 

So, what do you need to know before buying one?

And before we continue, I just want to let you know that this article has some affiliate links below, but the price doesn’t change or anything. If you choose to buy through these links, we get a small commission, which helps support the team here and writing up more content like this for our readers.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about buying an energy-efficient mini fridge. So, let’s get started! 

What Should I Look For When Choosing a Mini Fridge?

When buying an energy-efficient mini fridge, check for an Energy Star rating and specific energy consumption. A good rating ensures you choose a model that minimizes energy use and maximizes savings. It would be best if you also compared brands and models to choose the most efficient mini fridge. 

How To Choose an Energy-Efficient Mini Fridge 

When choosing a mini fridge (or any appliance), price and features are the first things people check. However, the appliance’s energy efficiency is also vital.

As long as your mini fridge is plugged in and functioning, it will consume energy. This energy will cost you money and impact the environment, so selecting a model that operates optimally while using the least amount of energy possible is best. 

Here’s what you need to consider to ensure that your mini fridge is as energy-efficient as possible:

  • Power source
  • Brand credibility and stance on energy efficiency
  • Energy Star rating
  • Date of manufacture
  • Recyclability of materials 
  • Refrigerant used 

Now let’s consider these crucial factors in more detail.

Power Source

Natural gas and electricity are two popular options for a mini fridge’s power source.

An electric mini fridge requires you to plug or attach it to an electric source to use it. Electricity is the most conventional type and most energy-efficient. The downside is you cannot use it during power interruptions. 

On the other hand, a mini fridge that runs on natural gas is used for models that use ammonium refrigeration. A natural gas fridge might need a gas line, but that also means you can use it during power shortages. It also typically offers cheaper running costs, less pollution, and fewer gas emissions. However, it may need more maintenance. 

To learn more about electric and natural gas fridges, you can check out our article Natural Gas vs. Electric Refrigerators: Which Is Cheaper?     

Other power sources for mini fridges include the following: 

  • Propane
  • Kerosene 
  • Butane

Like natural gas, these sources power mini fridges that run on ammonium refrigeration. 

A propane tank next to the exterior wall of a home

Brand Reputation

After deciding on a type of mini fridge, it’s a good idea to research the various brands. 

When considering brands, focus on ones with a reputation for: 

  • Durable and high-quality products
  • Excellent customer service 
  • A solid stance on environmental issues
  • Transparent on materials and coolant or refrigerants used 

While choosing a durable and good-quality fridge is a given, other factors are also important. 

Here’s some greater detail:

  • Excellent customer service – customer care is crucial if you need to contact the company about a faulty part soon after purchase. One way of determining how a brand handles customer service is to check online reviews. 
  • Environmentally friendly – traditional refrigerators contained harmful chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), two greenhouse gasses contributing to global warming. Newer fridges use eco-friendly coolants like R600a instead. 
  • Transparency on parts and materials used – companies consistent with their environmental stance and transparency are more likely to be upfront regarding the materials they use in their mini-fridges. 

Energy Star Rating

An Energy Star rating is awarded to a mini fridge model that is at least 20% more efficient than others. However, even amongst Energy Star models, specific energy consumption rates vary. 

When buying a mini fridge, look for the Energy Star label. It will contain information on features, maker, and model size. However, for comparison purposes, you should check the estimated yearly operating and electric costs. 

These two details will help you assess how much your fridge will cost you in the long run. This figure is an essential consideration because some models may appear cheap upfront but will rip you off in the long run due to high electricity consumption. 

Model Age  

After you’ve chosen your ideal model, it is a good idea to check the manufacturing date. 

A fully-stocked mini fridge with an open door

Newer models tend to be more energy-efficient than older ones, explaining why fridges older than fifteen years typically consume excessive energy and cost a lot to run. 

Units that have been stuck in a warehouse for a long time may have been exposed to the elements or knocked around, making them potentially more faulty in the long run. 

To avoid that, ask for the manufacturing or delivery date. Then, if the unit has been on standby for too long, you can ask if there’s a new version of that model. If there’s none, choose a more recent model instead. 

Materials and Refrigerant Type

It’s also a good idea to look into the materials and components that make up the fridge. 

For instance, you should inquire if it is made of recyclable materials. When you need to dispose of your fridge after its natural lifespan, it’s better to have it recycled. 

You can take your old mini fridge to a dealer and see if they can recycle it. If not, you can take it to a facility compliant with EPA or Environment Canada

As for the refrigerant, we recommend models that still use CFCs and HCFCs. Models that use R-600a and R-441A are much more environmentally friendly because they contribute less to global warming than CFCs and HCFCs if they happen to leak into the environment.

Not all brands are upfront with the kind of refrigerant they use, making it important to consider only a reputable brand. 

Energy-Efficient Mini Fridge Pros and Cons

With their innovative and energy-efficient technology, modern mini fridges can be more expensive upfront than other models. This price might make you wonder if a more extensive and less state-of-the-art model might be more suitable. 

Let’s look at the benefits and downsides of buying an energy-efficient mini fridge.

Pros

  • Ideal for small spaces – mini fridges are great for those who live in limited living spaces, like tiny apartments or dorm rooms. 
  • Energy and cost savings – compared to a full-sized fridge, most mini fridges use less energy. Further, the energy savings are even more optimized if you opt for an energy-efficient model. 
  • Positive environmental impact – the less energy used, the better for the environment. The effect is even better if you recycle or choose a unit with eco-friendly refrigerant.  
  • Portability – because of their diminutive size, mini fridges are easier to transport or move than larger refrigerators. So if you need to move furniture and appliances around or move to another place, they are more convenient. 
  • Affordability – mini fridges are often cheaper than larger refrigerators, which is good news for students and other people on a low budget. 

Cons 

  • No freezer – mini fridges don’t typically come with a freezer, so you can’t store frozen goods in them. 
A pint of ice cream in a freezer using an eco-friendly refrigerant
  • Limited space – the amount of items you can store in a mini fridge is limited because of the size. As a result, you may need to go to the grocery more often as you can’t stock up on too many items. 
  • Limited temperature range – most mini fridges cannot be as cold as full-sized fridges or stay cool for as long. So, while you can store some items in it, they can’t be there for too long, or else you risk food spoilage.  

It is important to note that many fridge companies have considered the cons and designed their latest models to address them. For instance, the models we’ll recommend later on all have freezers to allow the storage of perishable goods. 

Many mini fridges also allow the removal of racks and dividers to maximize the space according to your needs. So if you have bulky items, you can remove the partitions to fit them into the area.

The Best Energy-Efficient Mini Fridges

You can find energy-efficient mini fridges in stores such as:

  • Walmart
  • Best Buy
  • Target
  • Home Depot
  • Amazon

Consider the models below if you are looking for a standoff energy-efficient mini fridge. They are all Energy Star-certified models, among the best-selling on Amazon, and they present the best features.

BLACK+DECKER BCRK25B Compact Refrigerator

The BLACK+DECKER BCRK25B under a desk next to a homeowner sitting in a chair
Courtesy of Amazon

Black+Decker is a well-known and reliable refrigerator brand. Black+Decker is known for its quality products, great warranty offers, and excellent customer service. 

Here are some specifications for this model: 

  • Height: 26.6 inches (67.564 centimeters)
  • Width: 18.5 inches (46.99 centimeters)
  • Total volume/capacity: 2.5 ft3 (0.071 m3)
  • Annual energy use: 212 kilowatts per hour/year

The BLACK+DECKER BCRK25B uses R-600a refrigerant, an Energy Star-recommended coolant, to reduce global warming contribution. It has a sleek appearance, a recessed door handle, and adjustable legs. It’s also a low-noise producer, so you won’t have to worry about a noisy fridge. 

What sets it apart from many other models are two features—an internal freezer and an adjustable thermostat

Although we’ve mentioned that a common drawback of mini fridges is the lack of a freezer, this model from Black+Decker has one and a free ice cube tray. Moreover, it has an adjustable thermostat, allowing you to set the fridge’s temperature to what you need. 

Sale
BLACK+DECKER BCRK25B Compact Refrigerator Energy Star Single Door Mini Fridge with Freezer, 2.5 Cubic Feet, Black
5,400 Reviews
BLACK+DECKER BCRK25B Compact Refrigerator Energy Star Single Door Mini Fridge with Freezer, 2.5 Cubic Feet, Black
  • COMPACT & STYLISH - This space saving small refrigerator (17.5" x 18.5" x 26.6") stores food, soda, beer, and other beverages with minimal energy and without taking up too much space. The sleek, modern design - available in black, stainless steel, and white - is perfect for college dorm rooms, offices, garages, home bars, small apartments, and RV campers
  • LARGE CAPACITY - The 2 removable glass shelves expand the storage space and makes the fridge easy to clean. Additional door storage fits five 12 oz. cans (like soda and beer), small containers on the top shelf, and 2 liter door storage for taller bottles
  • CONVENIENT FEATURES - A reversible door, leveling legs, and adjustable temperature control (32 degrees Fahrenheit at the lowest setting) make this mini fridge even more practical. The small freezer (12.8 inches wide x 4.3 inches tall) fits ice packs, most frozen dinners, and the included ice tray
  • ULTRA QUIET - Low sound operation (45dB) is perfect for places where you don’t want a noisy appliance – waiting rooms, TV and game rooms, and even baby rooms where you can store milk for easy feeding
  • ONE YEAR WARRANTY - 1 year warranty for parts and labor, and 2 year warranty for compressor part

Upstreman Black-FR17 Mini Fridge with Freezer

The Upstreman Black-FR17 Mini Fridge against a kitchen wall
Courtesy of Amazon

Upstreman has several Energy Star-certified refrigerator models. Its Black-FR17 model is just one of the many energy-efficient mini-fridges offered. This model has variations, like FR-17a, FR-17b, etc. 

These are the specifications for this model: 

  • Height: 19.3 inches (49.022 centimeters)
  • Width: 18.9 inches (48.006 centimeters) 
  • Total volume/capacity: 1.7 ft3 (0.0481386 m3)
  • Annual energy use: 208 kilowatts per hour/year

Like the Black+Decker model above, this Upstreman fridge also uses an R600-a refrigerant. It comes in black or white, has a plastic door, and operates practically without noise. 

This model also stands out for having an internal freezer and an adjustable thermostat. You can adjust it to a temperature of between 33.8 and 46.4°F (1 to 8°C). This customizability helps you to avoid food spoilage. 

Unlike the Black+Decker model, though, this one is much smaller and has less storage space. Although that would help if you have very little room for a fridge, it won’t be ideal if you have to share it with another person or need to keep many food items. It also doesn’t come with adjustable legs. 

Upstreman 1.7 Cu.ft Mini Fridge with Freezer, Adjustable Thermostat, Energy Saving, Low Noise, Single Door Compact Refrigerator for Dorm, Office, Bedroom, Black-FR17
391 Reviews
Upstreman 1.7 Cu.ft Mini Fridge with Freezer, Adjustable Thermostat, Energy Saving, Low Noise, Single Door Compact Refrigerator for Dorm, Office, Bedroom, Black-FR17
  • Compact & Convenient: Given a dimension of 18.9” *17.7” *19.3” (W*D*H), this mini fridge can fit it anywhere you need. Whether it’s the on the counter or under the desk, it requires little space yet offers plenty of storage room, perfect for apartment, dorm, office, bedroom and RV. The reversible door provides great flexibility when used in a limited space.
  • Adjustable Temperatures & Freezer: Ranges from 33.8° F to 46.4° F (1° C to 8°C), the fridge offers 5 variable temperature settings per your need. Includes a compact freezer that allow you to make ice cubes, keep your food fresh and drinks chilled.
  • 38dB Quiet: Operates at a low noise of 38 dB, this fridge brings the peace and refreshing cold at the same time. It’s so quiet that you can hear the ice cubes melting in the glass! Free of any disturbance while it’s keeping all your food nice and fresh, ideal for environment like bedroom, office and study.
  • Energy-efficient & Eco friendly: The estimated daily cost is as low as 0.5 kWh per day, use the least energy to get the job done. The refrigerant R600a contributes no ozone depletion potential and a lower global warming potential compared to earlier refrigerants. Spend less on the bills, care more about the planet.
  • Worry-free Service: As an outstanding appliance brand, Upstreman offers one-year quality and service, satisfaction assured on all products.

Frigidaire EFR182 Mini Fridge

Frigidaire is also another famous manufacturer of energy-efficient refrigerators. Most of its models are Energy Star-certified, including the EFR182.

A promo photo of the Frigidaire EFR182 open and fully-stocked
Courtesy of Amazon

Here are some specifications for this mini fridge: 

  • Height: 18.5 inches (46.99 centimeters)
  • Width: 20 inches (50.8 centimeters)
  • Total volume/capacity: 1.8 ft3 (0.051 m3)
  • Annual energy use: 202 kilowatts per hour/year

Its major pros are similar to the first two models in that it has an internal freezer, which is great for chilling drinks or making ice. 

It also has an adjustable thermostat so you can set your fridge’s temperature between 32 and 35.6°F (-2° C to 2°C). This temperature range allows the model to reach lower temperatures than Upstreman’s FR17, but the range is narrower, so you can’t adjust it much. 

Moreover, it comes with adjustable legs and a reversible door so you can open it from the left or right side. You can also adjust how leveled the fridge will be. 

Although it appears to have less capacity than the Black+Decker model, you can choose another unit with a bigger capacity. Options range from 2.5 (0.071) to 4.6 cubic feet (0.13 cubic meters), and the other dimensions will change with increasing space. 

Sale
Frigidaire EFR182 1.6 cu ft Stainless Steel Mini Fridge. Perfect for Home or The Office. Platinum Series, 1.8
451 Reviews
Frigidaire EFR182 1.6 cu ft Stainless Steel Mini Fridge. Perfect for Home or The Office. Platinum Series, 1.8
  • Mechanical Temperature Adjustment Ranges From -2' to 2' Celsius (32' to 35.6'Fahrenheit)
  • Large Storage Areas. Excellent at Chilling Beverages and Healthy Snacks/Produce.
  • Features Adjustable Legs and a Reversible Door that can Open from Left or Right. Refrigerant Type:R600a
  • Full 1-Year Warranty
  • The freezer compartment is used to make ice cubes or store the perfect snack

Final Thoughts 

Mini fridges are essential for people who live in spaces where full-sized fridges cannot fit but need a place to store food and drinks. Choosing the most energy-efficient model that suits your needs is essential when buying one. In doing so, the appliance would be helpful to you without costing you and the environment as much energy. 

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