Many people keep an extra fridge or freezer in the garage. Often, the garage is the only place where there’s enough room to put another appliance, especially if it’s a larger freezer chest.
But will putting a freezer in your garage use more electricity?
Keeping your freezer in your garage can use up to 50% more electricity than normal. This depends greatly on where you live and how hot it gets. You can lower this if you have an insulated or air conditioned garage. Newer freezers are more energy efficient, which will also help.
In the rest of the article, we’ll look at some of the data. We’ll then discuss some things you can do to help lower your electricity bill if you do decide to keep your freezer in your garage.
Garage Freezers Are Becoming More Common
A surprising number of Americans own a second freezer.
In fact, the number of homes in the U.S. with second freezers increased by 23% from 1997-2009. This is compared to the 1% increase from 1978 to 1997. Another study shows that the number of households using second freezers is growing by 1% each year.
Unfortunately, nearly 15% of people have freezers over twenty years old. That means the freezer is nowhere near as energy efficient as newer models. Using an older freezer in a garage with temperature extremes will most certainly add to your electricity bill.
How Much Electricity Does a Freezer Use?
Freezers and refrigerators have seen a massive improvement in energy efficiency in the last few decades.
A new freezer will save you around $215 to $270 per year compared to an older freezer.
Those older freezers will use around 750 to 1000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per year. This works out at $97-130 per year, using the national electric rate of 13 cents per kWh.
When you put your freezer in your garage, where it has to battle higher humidity and temperatures that cause it to work much harder. Hotter temperatures means that the compressor on your freezer will have to work a lot harder.
According to EnergyStar.gov, for every 1°F (-17°C) change in the temperature in the garage, compared to the ambient weather in your home, your freezer’s energy consumption will increase by 2.25% to 2.5%.
At 90°F (32°C), the freezer uses up to 50% more energy than when the temperature is 70°F (21°C).
The bottom line is that older freezers are already less efficient than newer models. Using one in an uninsulated garage will increase your electricity bill even further. That’s a great reason to consider insulating your garage.
So What Should You Do?
If you do plan on using a freezer in your garage, here are a few things you can do to save on electricity.
Make Sure Your Freezer Can Handle Extreme Temperatures
As we just saw, the temperature where you live has a huge impact on how much electricity your freezer uses.
Most freezers will work in temperatures up to about 110°F (40°C). However, your manufacturer may have a different limit, so be sure to check your manual. Then, find the average summer temperature in your area.
Don’t forget to keep track of the temperature in your garage. It can be up to 15 degrees different than the temperature outside. Personally, I have the AcuRite thermometer which also keeps track of relative humidity. Another option is the FirstAlert Carbon Monoxide Detector, which also has a temperature readout. You can see my review of that here.
If the historical maximum temperature doesn’t get hotter than your freezer’s threshold, then you’re good to go. However, anything you can do to lower the ambient temperature in your garage will help your electricity bill.
Insulate or Air Condition Your Garage
If the temperature in your garage is too high for your freezer, the next step is to either insulate or air condition your garage. Possibly both.
I’m a big fan of insulating your garage. It made a huge difference when I insulated my garage walls. Even more when I insulated my garage door. If you don’t spend a lot of time in your garage, then insulating the entire garage might be overkill.
However, you can still insulate the area around your freezer by building an insulated cabinet around it. That cabinet can keep the area around the freezer cooler, especially when you use fans or active ventilation.
If insulating your garage still doesn’t bring the temperature down to where it needs to be, the next step would be air conditioning.
Air Conditioning your garage can get pretty expensive. Full garage systems can cost several thousand dollars and even a portable air conditioned can cost several hundred dollars.
For more information on garage air conditioning, check out my in-depth guide where I go over the pros and cons of each type of garage air conditioner. I also offer some recommendations, specifically for the garage.
No matter whether you insulate your garage or air condition it, you’ll want to keep as much warm air outside as possible. Keep your garage doors and windows closed at all times and seal up any leaks you may find.
Upgrade Your Old Freezer
If you have a freezer older than 2004, consider upgrading to a newer model. absolutely have to keep a freezer in the garage, consider replacing the old model for a new one. Not only will this help you save $50 a year, but you could choose a garage freezer with a better operating temperature range.
To get an estimate how much you can save, use the Energy Star Flip Your Fridge Calculator.
If you are looking for a new, garage ready freezer, the GE FCM11PHWW. It’s a 10.6 cubic feet freezer that’s rated for operation anywhere between 0° F and 110° F.
You can find it at Home Depot or your local bib-box appliance store for around $599.
Using a freezer in your garage will likely use more electricity than you expect – sometimes up to 50% more! This is compounded if you have an older, less energy efficient freezer.
Older freezers will also use more electricity (and cost more) than newer appliances. Replacing your old freezer can save some money on electricity, but insulating your garage will have the biggest effect. For more on whether you should insulate your garage, check out my article where I discuss some of the pros and cons.