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What you need to know when buying a refrigerator

Shopping for a refrigerator? Today's models are more than just where you store your food.
/ Source: TODAY

Shopping for a refrigerator? Today’s models are more than just where you store your food. As part of TODAY’s “Home-Improved” series, Consumer Reports’ editor Dan DiClerico is sharing what you need to know when looking to buy a new fridge.

Check the featuresEven some of the most affordable refrigerators come loaded with features like temperature-controlled drawers, internal water dispensers and more qualities that weren’t included even a few years ago. Some even come with Bluetooth-enabled sound systems, wine-chilling compartments and dual evaporators to maintain optimal humidity in fresh food compartments. Take in all the new features fridges have to offer, but don’t let them cloud your judgment as to what’s really worth your money.

Consider your food-shopping habitsBe conscious if your own shopping habits and how that might translate into what you need in a fridge. Do you make a big shopping trip once a week? Do you prefer to stock up on bulk purchases? Then consider a larger capacity than the 19 to 22 claimed cubit feet than most manufacturers recommend for a family of four.

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Look at EnergyGuide labels wiselyDon’t only look for the Energy Star label, as efficiency standards tend to vary by the refrigerator. DiClerico said that a top-freezer without the Energy Star tag might be more efficient than a side-by-side fridge with the label.

For an apples-to-apples comparison, look at the annual operating costs and the kilowatt-hours per year the model uses.

Check the specsIt may sound like a basic element, but make sure your refrigerator fits your kitchen before buying it. And remember to factor in the door swing as it relates to adjacent walls and other appliances. DiClerico also recommends leaving a 1-inch clearance around the unit and surrounding cabinetry to ensure there is adequate air flow.