A stainless steel electric refrigerator front and center in a kitchen

When it’s time to buy a new refrigerator, there is one particularly significant decision you must make—natural gas or electric? 

Both types have their own pros and cons, but which one is cheaper in the long run?

Let’s find out!

Price of an Electric Refrigerator vs. Natural Gas

While refrigerator costs are determined by the brand and model you choose, natural gas refrigerators have a higher initial cost than electric ones. 

However, they are typically cheaper to operate because natural gas is a less expensive energy source than electricity. For this reason, you may be tempted to go for a refrigerator that runs on natural gas. But keep in mind they also require more frequent maintenance. 

On the contrary, electric refrigerators are often less expensive to purchase than natural gas models. In addition, they are more energy-efficient too.

On top of that, they require less maintenance than natural gas models. However, they can be more expensive to operate overall and may yield higher utility bills. 

So, Are Electric or Natural Gas Refrigerators Cheaper in the Long Run? 

The cost will depend on several factors like initial price, energy efficiency, and maintenance required. But, in general, natural gas refrigerators offer a better return on investment. Of course, you will have to spend more when buying one but rest assured your savings will cover this difference in the long run.  

Natural gas refrigerators, especially those manufactured over the last few decades, offer better fuel economy and lower emissions. As a result, you can enjoy greater convenience, reliability, and efficiency while playing your part in promoting sustainability. 

Other Considerations Between Natural Gas and Electric Refrigerators

By the end of this section comparing critical factors like efficiency, safety, and performance, you’ll know exactly which type of refrigerator is right for your home!

Safety 

As far as safety is concerned, many people quickly assume that natural gas refrigerators are less safe than electric models because there’s a risk of a flaming explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. However, they tend to forget that electric refrigerators can pose as many safety risks as their gas counterparts if they are misused, damaged, or not maintained as per the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Regardless of their model or brand, natural gas and electric refrigerators can be hazardous in some conditions or with improper use. 

Natural gas refrigerators are more prone to explosions and fires due to gas leaks, so you must use them cautiously. In addition, these appliances require proper ventilation and an efficient system for testing the carbon monoxide alarm to prevent a fire, explosion, or poisoning in the case of gas line damage.  

On the other hand, electric refrigerators have electrical parts and wiring that can cause electrocution if tampered with or installed incorrectly. Hence, you’d want to hire someone with expert knowledge to eliminate installation risks and ensure the wiring is up to date.   

Efficiency 

In general, gas generates heat better than electricity. Therefore, natural gas refrigerators are more efficient. Besides, gas is almost always cheaper than electricity.

However, you may have to buy gas more frequently depending on your unique household requirements, resulting in a higher cost than the upfront charges of buying an electric refrigerator.     

Performance

Electric refrigerators may perform better than their natural gas counterparts, given that they operate at steady temperatures. As a result, they keep food temperatures more consistent as well. 

On the contrary, natural gas refrigerators can fluctuate in temperature, which can cause food to spoil. These fluctuations can also cause the motor to work harder.

A homeowner looking at tomatoes in her hand as she stands in front of the open natural gas refrigerator in her kitchen

That said, the performance of gas refrigerators depends on other factors like the quality of insulation, motor wattage used, battery operation, and the type of gas appliance used to power the motor. 

Many people still go for a natural gas refrigerator because they are worried about unplanned interruptions or consistency in electricity from the service provider.  

Flexibility and Convenience

Electric refrigerators are more flexible than natural gas refrigerators. They can be used in any location and are easy to install. On the other hand, natural gas refrigerators require a gas line, so they’re not as versatile.

Moreover, electric refrigerators offer greater convenience to users, allowing them to use the power from an electrical socket or a generator. They’re also easier to start in the event of a power outage. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about turning the gas on or off—you only have to plug it in.

On the other hand, gas refrigerators require natural gas to run. So you must ensure there’s gas or propane available to rely on your refrigerator to keep your food items cold. 

However, since natural gas refrigerators don’t have a compressor, you don’t have to turn them on and off as much as you do with electric refrigerators. 

Durability 

While durability greatly depends on the quality of a particular refrigerator, you can expect natural gas models to be more durable and reliable than their electric counterparts. 

The reason?

Natural gas refrigerators don’t have any moving parts for cooling, meaning that there are no components that can wear out. On the contrary, electric refrigerators have an electric pump or compressor and Freon, requiring replacements. 

Overall, if you don’t prefer heavy-duty maintenance and are looking for a long-lasting unit, a natural gas refrigerator may be ideal.   

Sustainability 

Natural gas is a renewable resource that produces less pollution and greenhouse gases, winning on the sustainability front. Moreover, it is a reliable alternative for the worsening energy crisis. 

Natural gas infrastructure ensures on-demand accessibility and delivery to customers, preventing the supply and reliability issues possible with electricity. For example, if your house has a gas line, you can expect your natural gas refrigerator to work even if a blackout hits.  

Additionally, natural gas has always been much cheaper than electricity, and you can expect it to be like this in the future.

Unlike electric appliances, where a higher consumption increases your energy bills, the cost per natural gas unit decreases as your consumption increases. Consequently, gas refrigerators prove cheaper in the long run, despite the initial high purchasing cost. 

In addition, natural gas emits far less greenhouse gas emissions than electricity. Its chemical structure is nothing like coal, which is more environmentally friendly.   

However, gas leaks from your refrigerator can be harmful to the environment. Hence, you should install a proper carbon monoxide alarm in your kitchen and follow safety measures to prevent a leak.   

If you still decide to opt for an electric refrigerator, make sure it has the Energy Star-certified label for maximum efficiency. 

11 Tips for Making Your Electric Fridge More Eco-Friendly

Make sure your fridge is adequately insulated – a well-insulated fridge will use less energy to keep cool, which means lower emissions and a smaller carbon footprint.

Set your fridge to the right temperature – the optimal setting for most refrigerators is between 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything colder than that is a waste of energy.

Don’t open the fridge door any more than necessary – whenever you do, cold air escapes, and warm air rushes in, making the fridge work harder to maintain its temperature. So, only open the door when you need to.

Keep the coils clean – dirty coils make your fridge less efficient, requiring it to use more energy to stay cool. Clean the coils at least once a year with a vacuum attachment or a coil brush.

Don’t put hot food in the fridge – let leftovers and takeout cool down to room temperature before putting them in the fridge. Placing hot food in will make the fridge work harder, and it can also raise the temperature inside, making your fridge less efficient overall.

Use a power strip – if you have multiple appliances plugged into one outlet, they’re all using energy even when turned off. So plug them into a power strip and switch it off when you’re not using the appliances. That way, they’re not using any energy at all.

Unplug your fridge when you’re going on vacation – if you’re going to be gone for more than a few days, it’s best to unplug your fridge and let it defrost. That way, it won’t use any energy while you’re gone.

Get a fridge with an automatic defrost cycle – newer refrigerators have this feature, and it’s much more energy-efficient than the manual defrost cycle. With an automated process, your fridge will defrost itself when not in use, not using any extra energy.

Place your refrigerator away from heat sources, such as a dishwasher or stove – otherwise, it will have to work harder to keep its interior cool. 

Buy local produce – the food in your fridge has to come from somewhere, and the further it has to travel, the more emissions are produced. So, buy local produce whenever possible to reduce your carbon footprint. Also, try purchasing non-perishable items as much as you can to place in cupboards instead of the refrigerator.  

An electric refrigerator in a kitchen full of produce

Finally, check your fridge gasket – this will ensure the rubber seals around the door(s) don’t leak cold air. Try keeping a piece of paper between the door and the fridge and pull it out. If it comes out easily, consider replacing the gasket. 

Final Verdict Between Natural Gas and Electric Refrigerators

Now that you know everything about natural gas refrigerators and electric refrigerators, which route would you prefer to take? 

As a general rule of thumb:

  • If you want to reduce your carbon footprint and live a more sustainable lifestyle, go for a natural gas refrigerator. 
  • If you want your refrigerator unit to last longer with minimal maintenance and component replacements, consider choosing a high-quality natural gas refrigerator.
  • If you don’t have enough money to cover the cost of a gas refrigerator from a reliable brand, consider going for an electric model. 
  • If you’re okay with having to switch the gas on and off and want to avoid the hassle of unexpected electricity interruptions, a natural gas refrigerator may be a better option. 

The bottom line is that there is no definitive conclusion for the electric vs. natural gas refrigerator debate. Instead, the answer boils down to your household’s unique requirements, needs, and expectations. 

You can spend a little more money on a natural gas refrigerator to save additional costs down the line.

However, if your budget doesn’t allow you to splurge on a fridge, you may be better off buying an electric refrigerator. Just be prepared for the potentially high utility bills.

Whichever option you choose, make sure you get your refrigerator installed by an expert. Moreover, take care of the gas line work and wiring to eliminate all safety hazards from the equation.

Also, don’t forget to follow our tips to make your refrigerator more efficient and eco-friendly, and good luck in your endeavors!

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