green cooling initiative: Domestic refrigeration

Domestic refrigeration

Refrigerators are often the first electrical appliance a household buys. Fridges and freezers are often responsible for a large proportion of a household’s energy consumption. For example in Brazil this is on average 30%.

Domestic refrigeration is the subsector with the highest number of units. The global stock is estimated to be approaching 1,500 million units. 100 million units are produced annually.

SubsectorDomestic refrigeration
Typical applicationrefrigerators, refrigerator-freezers with usually a smaller freezing compartment in or attached to the refrigerator, upright freezers, chest freezers
Typical end-usersPredominantly households
Main refrigerants usedHFC-134a (60% of existing units), 50 to 250 g
Natural refrigerant alternativeHC-290 (propane) and HC-600a (isobutane) are used in 50% of newly produced refrigerators. Hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerators need less refrigerant than HFC refrigerators and a typical HC refrigerator with a volume of ca. 250 l contains ca. 55 g HC-600a.
Growth rate / future demandGrowth rates depend on the region, as saturation rates are already above 100% in some developed countries like the US or in Western Europe, but are still as low as around 20% in some developing countries. Show on world map.

Scope of improvement: direct emissions

  • Switch to natural (hydrocarbon) refrigerants
  • Reducing end-of-life emissions
  • Reducing overall cooling needs / behavioural changes

Read more on the scope of improvement: direct emissions

Scope of improvement: energy efficiency

  • Optimise components: compressor (variable speed), heat-exchanger
  • Using hydrocarbon refrigerants
  • Reducing overall cooling needs / behavioural changes

Read more on the scope of improvement: energy efficiency

More information

You may also be interested in

Best practice example

  • Product: India’s first hydrocarbon refrigerators

    Since developing India’s first commercially available hydrocarbon (R290) air conditioner in 2012 in collaboration with GIZ and the Indian government, Godrej & Boyce have sold over 100,000 air conditioning units and now boast an annual production capacity of 180,000 units.