Planning the Cost of a New Freezer

by Gary Foreman

Planning the Cost of a New Freezer photo

When buying a new freezer, you need to consider both the purchase cost and the cost to run it if you really want to get the biggest savings. Use these guidelines when planning the cost of a new freezer.

I have a large chest freezer that has to be about 30 years old. I am considering replacing it with a newer, smaller upright one.

Do you have an idea of the electricity efficiency gains a new model would have over an old one? It’s got to be significant enough to pay for itself pretty soon, especially when you factor in the sale of the old freezer.

Rex asks a good question. How much more efficient is a new freezer and how long would it take to pay for itself. To answer those questions we did a little research and came up with some information from the Wisconsin Energy Bureau.

How much electricity does it take to run a freezer?

First, let’s look at how much electricity it takes to run a freezer. In part, the answer depends on how big the freezer is and whether it’s manual or automatic defrost. A manual defrost chest freezer can have an annual cost to operate of $30. By comparison, an automatic defrost upright freezer will cost about $50 per year to run. Generally speaking, chest freezers are more efficient that uprights. (Note: Actual costs will vary depending on your electric rates.) (source:

How does that compare to a 20 or 30 year old model? According to the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, a new model uses slightly more than one third of the energy of the older models. So you could be spending $90 to $150 per year to operate your old freezer. Your savings would be in the range of $60 to $100 per year.

The newer models are more energy efficient for a number of reasons. They use more efficient compressors, better insulation, door seals and have eliminated anti-sweat devices.

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Compare the costs of operating the old freezer to that of a new one

Now, let’s compare our savings to the cost of a new unit. You’ll probably pay between $300 and $1000 for a new freezer depending on the size, options and how good a sale you find. So depending on your savings, the freezer should pay for itself somewhere between three and ten years.

Another way to look at it is in the total cost of ownership for the life of the product. If your old freezer costs $150 per year to operate, you’ll spend $3,000 in electricity over it’s expected 20 year lifespan. A more energy- efficient model that costs $50 per year to operate will only use $1,000 in electricity over it’s life. That’s a savings of $2,000.

3 other costs to consider before deciding to buy or not buy a new freezer

There are three other things that you should consider.

Cost of loss of freezer content

With an older freezer you run the risk of a breakdown. That means that your investment of frozen food will be jeopardized. With today’s food prices, it’s not hard to have a few hundred dollars tucked away in that freezer. If you’ve prepared meals in advance you could also lose the time it took to make those meals. An old freezer that fails could be a very expensive experience.

Comparison shopping savings

Another issue to consider if you wait for the old freezer to give out is that you’ll be giving up any shopping advantage you might have.

You won’t have time to compare which manufacturers have the most efficient and trouble free units. You might not have time to compare prices at different stores. You’ll be limited to those models that the dealer has in stock now. All in all, you could end up getting a freezer that you don’t really want and paying $75 or $100 more than you should for the privilege.

The amount you can make selling the old freezer

Finally, as Rex points out, you should be able to sell the old freezer for a few dollars. Who knows, maybe you can make enough to put a few extra roasts in that new freezer!

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If you’re like Rex and have a 25 or 30 year old freezer it’s time to start thinking about a new one. Take your time. Shop around! And when you find the right one you’ll be protecting your investment in frozen food and lowering your electric bill for years to come.

Reviewed January 2022

About the Author

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar website and newsletters in 1996. He's the author of How to Conquer Debt No Matter How Much You Have and he's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, and

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