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Five signs it's time for a new fridge

With bargains to be found in the Black Friday sales, is it time you bought a new fridge?

row of new coloured fridges
Last updated: 11 October 2023

Thinking about buying a new fridge in the Black Friday sales? Whether you've been living with a so-so fridge for a while, you're concerned about how much energy your current model is using or it's simply time to upgrade, there are many bargains to be found as retailers clear stock in the Black Friday sales. 

But if your old fridge hasn't actually stopped working altogether, how do you know if you really need a new one? Here are the five signs to look for.

(And don't forget, before you hit the shops, make sure you do your research and check our expert fridge reviews.) 

1. Your fridge is old and inefficient

The average life expectancy of a mid-range fridge is around nine years. Fridges are getting more and more energy efficient over time and the MEPS (minimum energy performance standards) have become more strict, so an old fridge is costing you a lot more to run than a new one. Old or faulty seals will also add to running costs. 

Because fridges and freezers need to be plugged in and running all the time, they're the most energy-hungry appliances in your kitchen and account for around eight percent of an average home's energy use. 

Fridges and freezers are the most energy-hungry appliances in your kitchen and account for around eight percent of an average home's energy use

When we review appliances, we calculate the running costs over ten years to give you an idea of how much you'll pay for electricity over the lifetime of the appliance.

For fridges, the most energy-hungry model will cost you $2600 over 10 years*. The most efficient will cost you just $808 – that's a whopping $1792 difference! 

(These costs are for a large French door fridge and a small freezer-on-bottom model respectively so they're not like for like, but it does illustrate how widely running costs can vary. It's important to factor these costs into your purchasing decision – the upfront cost is only part of the picture.)

If you've noticed your power bills creeping up, it might be time to upgrade. Check out our guide to buying a new fridge.

*Running costs based on an electricity price of 40c per kWh.

2. Your food is spoiling quickly

Throwing out spoiled food regularly is not only bad for your household budget and terrible for the environment, it could be a sign of poor temperature regulation and a fridge that's on its last legs. 

The problem might be a faulty thermostat or a damaged door seal, which are both issues that are worth repairing and might not mean you need a whole new fridge. 

"The cooling performance of an older fridge can be partially restored by replacing worn seals," says CHOICE fridge expert Ashley Iredale

"But if your fridge is more than six years old and suffers a major fault (like compressor failure), it's worth replacing."

3. It's very, very noisy

It's reasonable to expect a certain level of noise coming from your fridge. Our fridge experts describe the noise of a healthy fridge as "a continuous hum, like a relatively quiet motor, and much quieter than a vacuum cleaner". 

But if you're struggling to hear your favourite TV show over the sounds from the kitchen, there could be something wrong with the compressor. 

Other noises can be caused by the automatic defrost, which can sound quite loud even in a healthy fridge (so don't be alarmed by the odd pop, crack or gurgle). 

If you think your fridge is too loud, or you notice any changes in the sounds your fridge is making, it's a good idea to investigate and possibly upgrade.

4. Your family's needs have changed

If you used to keep nothing but takeaways and wine in your (tiny) fridge, but you now have a couple of kids with plenty of family meals on the go, you might need to upgrade to a more spacious model. Or perhaps the kids have left home and you don't need all the space you used to. Maybe you're redesigning your kitchen and it's time for a new look. 

Whatever the case, if you're buying a new fridge, make sure you measure up properly and ensure it will fit within your cabinetry.

To make sure it'll fit your space, check our fridge size and dimensions guide

5. You love a fancy feature

Fridges these days can be pretty high-tech. Is it time you had an ice-maker, a special compartment for your wine and kimchi, or a fridge with a touchscreen in your life? 

Check out our latest fridge reviews and get shopping!

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.