7 Factors to Consider when Buying a New Refrigerator

Your refrigerator options go beyond the freezer-topped boxes of yesteryear. Here are a few of the new bells and whistles you'll want for your new fridge

Credit: Aristocrat

Today there are refrigerator options for every kitchen’s needs

Are you looking for a new fridge, but don’t know where to start?

Refrigerators have come a long way since they first emerged in the 1950s: these days, with their sleek design and technical advancements, they’re so cool you might even call them hot.

What to Consider when Buying a New Refrigerator

Form factor: Your options certainly go beyond the freezer-topped boxes of yesteryear – built-in, side-by-side and French door models are the trendy choices. Built-ins are integrated into your kitchen cabinetry and hidden behind doors. On side-by-side models, the fridge and freezer doors run vertically, one alongside the other. The French door style has a double-door refrigerator on the top, with a bottom-drawer freezer.

Bells, whistles or both: Before you start shopping – and your chilling wants start to snowball – identify your needs and price range. Beyond basics like auto-defrost, smudge-free surfaces, ice dispensers, water spigots and adjustable shelves, you’ll be tempted by everything from electronic controls and door alarms to zoned temperature controls, integrated LCD TVs, iPod docks and touch-screen panels for recipes and notes.

Small-space savvy: For small kitchens there’s a new space-saving trend: under-counter fridges, which sit snugly under your kitchen cabinetry. Also available are counter-flush models and tall, narrow styles designed to streamline your cold storage.

In-charge large
: For a big kitchen, the ceiling’s the limit. If you’re storing enough to feed an army, an oversize model is your best bet, with extra-wide doors and a special compartment for every foodstuff. Need even more? Fridge drawers are the ideal complement. These are typically built into the cabinetry and take up about as much space as a dishwasher.

The insides count
: Consider your storage and cooling needs. If you eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, two crispers (with humidity controls) are a must. If meat is your beat, look for a model with a meat-keeper (which should be colder than the rest of the fridge) and a large freezer.

Wine not: A wine purist never keeps the vino with the veggies. Instead look for a wine chiller with individual compartments and temperature controls for your whites and reds. Some higher-end fridges have separate sections for wine, but choose carefully: you need to be able to adjust for just the right amount of chill.

Green stars: An energy-efficient model may cost a bit extra upfront, but you’ll save cash in the long run with lower utility bills. A rebate from BC Hydro – $50 on qualifying models – should also sweeten the pot. Look for the Energy Star rating, as well as the EnerGuide label, for information on energy efficiency and pollution reduction, or visit BC Hydro’s website for rebate details.

With files from Nicola Enright-Morin