Don’t think of the fridge as just an over-sized esky in the kitchen. Today’s fridges don’t just look good, they’re packed full of technology.

The humble fridge has sat, unassumingly, in the middle of every Australian family kitchen for generations. Its reassuring purr is an aural indication that the most important appliance in the kitchen, the beating heart of the domestic ecosystem, is fully operational. It’s only when a fridge fails that the essential role it plays in the home becomes acutely apparent. The fridge is an appliance you simply can’t live without.

Household refrigeration has come a long way. Gone are the days of the buzzing white behemoth that weighed more than a bank safe. Today, not only are modern fridges and freezers extremely energy efficient, but they also come in a selection of different colours and are now empowered with a slew of smart technological features.

So, when it is time to buy a new fridge, where do you start? Will you need a side-by-side model or one with a French door? What about the smart features – what do they do? Chill, we’ve got you covered.

The Basics

Size matters
Modern homes are designed to compensate for wider refrigeration units but with older homes, cavities for fridges tend to be smaller. Measure the width, depth, and height of the opening before shopping and leave a 30mm gap around the fridge to allow the heat to escape. Which way will you want the door to open? Should the hinge be on the right or left? A unit with reversible doors will cover all bases.

How much is enough?
Before you consider capacity, ask yourself a few questions. What are your food habits? Do you cook meals in advance to freeze or buy food in bulk? If so, you’ll want generous freezer space. Eat plenty of veggies? Deep – and spacious – crisper drawers will be required. Are you an entertainer? Then shelf space for platters should be on the list. Plotting out how you live as a family will help with the buying decision.

The cost of being cool

Seeing stars
Like any appliance, you’re going to want to know how much a fridge is going to cost before you hand over the moolah. Fridges are the only household appliance that run 24 hours a day, seven days a week (some online gamers might argue this point), so choosing one that is energy efficient is a priority. There’s a sticker on the front of every appliance that provides all the information you need. The more stars at the top of the badge, the more energy-efficient the fridge is.

Watt’s that?
Below the stars, in the centre of the badge, you’ll find a box dedicated to kWh (energy consumption number). This is a more accurate way of calculating the annual cost of your appliance and the lower this number is, the better.

To calculate the running cost, multiply the energy consumption number on the device by the tariff on your electricity bill.

So, if your tariff is 30 cents per kWh and your energy consumption number is 350, then the fridge will cost $105 a year to run. It’s worth remembering that comparisons with stars and kWh should only be done on fridges with similar size, capacities and features.

Cool Smarts
If you haven’t bought a fridge for a while, you’ll likely be surprised at how much has changed. Like all consumer tech, the technology in white goods is constantly adapting to lifestyle needs and requirements. Smart fridges connect to the home network and offer a full gamut of features, from push notification alerts that the door is open (handy if you’ve left the house in a hurry) to in-built cameras, so you can check what’s in it whilst out and about.

Smart displays can turn the fridge into a central home hub for the family, and see-through panels reveal what’s inside without opening the door. Why does that matter? Every time a fridge door is opened and the cold air escapes, the compressor must work harder to restore the correct temperature; that’s detrimental to the environment and your hip pocket. The door-in-door concept is another innovative design to counter that. A second, shallow door is included in the front of the main door and can be used to store frequently used items like milk, butter and OJ. By keeping the main part of the fridge sealed, the overall temperature isn’t compromised.

Water filter need changing or ice getting low? No problem – your fridge can let you know. Smart technology in refrigeration is ubiquitous in 2021 – there’s a solution for every family’s needs.

Check out the huge range of fridges at JB Hi-Fi.

How to dump a fridge
While we’ve all seen old fridges unceremoniously dumped on the side of the road, this is a huge no-no. Fridges and freezers contain toxic chemicals that could leak into the ground or water supply. The safest way is to either hire a professional to come and collect it or take it to the nearest transfer station (the local tip in old parlance) where the components can be recycled, and the chemicals responsibly disposed of.