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Caveat Emptor

January/February 2007
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2007 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 01, 2007
Recent cases reveal that the efficiency of a product is sometimes less than meets the eye. In 2006, Consumer Reports tested the LG Energy Star bottom freezer refrigerator, the LG LRFC25750, and discovered that it won’t meet Energy Star standards in most homes. (See Consumer Reports, August ’06, p. 8.)  DOE doesn’t normally test appliances; instead, it relies on manufacturers to test and report on the energy use of their products. The DOE test calls for the manufacturer to measure refrigerator efficiency in a chamber set at 90ºF with the refrigerator doors closed. That’s not how most refrigerators really operate, but the losses from the higher ambient temperature are supposed to compensate for doors opening. Consumer Reports tested the LG refrigerator under a variety of ambient temperatures with the door opened and closed and made a surprising discovery. An electronic sensor in the refrigerator regulates a heater that is used to keep the door gaskets pliable so that the gaskets provide an effective seal around the refrigerator doors. But the sensor turns off the heater when the ambient temperature reaches 90ºF. With the 100W heater on, the refrigerator energy use exceeds the maximum ...

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