In recent decades, energy and resource savings have become increasingly important, not only in the industrial, but also the residential sector.
As one of the largest energy users in private homes, domestic refrigerators and freezers were among the first appliances to be targeted for energy efficiency improvements. With the aim of encouraging manufacturers to develop and produce more efficient appliances, the European Energy Label was introduced in the mid-nineties. However, the energy use of refrigerators does not only depend on technical components and features. Especially the using conditions in private homes are of a decisive influence.
Thus, the present study has been conducted to test the sensitivity of refrigerators’ energy consumption to various usage conditions within realistic ranges, which have been determined by means of two empirical studies. Key information gathered from the experiments were used as a base for the development and validation of a simplified model that allows predicting the energy consumption of refrigerators in use.
The practical experiments were performed under controlled laboratory conditions with four different refrigerators with an A+ or A++ energy efficiency rating (two statically cooled built-in fridge-freezers, one dynamically cooled refrigerator and one statically cooled refrigerator). The investigations revealed that the ambient temperature has the greatest impact on a refrigerator’s energy consumption, followed by thermostat setting and heat load by insertion of warm items. The refrigerators’ load under static conditions as well as the number of door openings have almost no impact on energy consumption.
The modelling methodology follows a first-principle approach adjusted by experimental data. When compared to experimental results, model predictions show a reasonable agreement for the whole range of investigated conditions.