Refrigerators have changed from early iceboxes, which keep food cool by placing a large block of ice at the top. Today they are electric and feature both refrigerator and freezer sections and temperature-controlled fresh food storage drawers. Shelves are adjustable, allowing you to customize the space to fit your needs. Split shelves are also available. In-door ice makers and dispensers make ice accessible without opening the freezer. Door shelving of varying heights and widths allows for the storage of gallons of milk and tall bottles in addition to the usual condiments, eggs, and cheese.
While refrigerators are still available in the original top-freezer/bottom-refrigerator style, there are more styles from which to choose. Some people prefer their freezer, and refrigerator placement reversed. Doors can be right or left opening, depending on the layout of your kitchen. The side-by-side model is trendy today. The narrower doors take up less aisle space. A side-by-side refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom allows for easier use of the more often used refrigerator sections. Four-door models are the latest, with a drawer that pulls out without opening the refrigerator. Purchase a cabinet-depth width refrigerator for a built-in look. Refrigerators and freezers can also be purchased separately.
Be sure the refrigerator you choose will fit the space it is to occupy and will fit through the delivery doors. Measure the height, width, and depth and allow an extra inch all the way around the refrigerator for air circulation. Manufacturers are making refrigerators to fit narrower spaces. You can find them in widths of 18 to 30 inches.
A family of four requires 19 to 22 cubic feet of refrigerator space. If you shop less often than once a week or prefer to buy in bulk or stock up when the price is right, you may need a larger refrigerator. They are available in sizes of over 30 cubic feet.
Consider energy usage when buying a refrigerator. Check the yellow Energy Guide for annual kilowatt-hours and operating costs. Refrigerators manufactured after January 1, 2020, will be the most efficient.