John Weekes is an NZME News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Consumer Watchdog: Fridges - less power is more

But whiteware is no longer white: a pretty colour seduces male shoppers.

Salesman Greg Dennerly says the minimalist look is big in Europe.  Photo / Doug Sherring
Salesman Greg Dennerly says the minimalist look is big in Europe. Photo / Doug Sherring

When it comes to buying a new fridge, it's not just dollars that consumers are looking to make savings on.

Two-thirds of Kiwis now take energy efficiency into account when purchasing a new icebox.

But Aucklanders, babyboomers and - yes - blokes are more likely to choose a fridge on the basis of colour.

The findings come from the Canstar Blue refrigerator satisfaction survey, a nationwide, independent poll of how Kiwis buy and use fridges.

In the poll of 652 people who had purchased a new fridge in the past three years, three-quarters claim they know where to store items to make the fridge work most efficiently.

Canstar NZ national manager Derek Bonnar said: "It's pleasing to see that all age groups are getting the message about energy ratings, and that it's playing a part in purchasing decisions. Energy-efficient appliances are not only good for the wallet, they are good for the environment."

Energy ratings become an even bigger factor in the purchase over the summer months.

Veteran appliance salesman Greg Dennerly, from Noel Leeming in St Lukes, Auckland, said the first question buyers asked was about price, with energy efficiency usually the second question.

Next is aesthetics: integrated fridges, hidden from view by cupboards or panels matching those elsewhere in the kitchen, are popular with buyers. "It's a very minimalist look," Dennerly said. "That's the look at the moment in Europe."

Canstar said 41 per cent of New Zealanders bought fridges with a colour, brand or appearance to match an existing kitchen appliance.

Aucklanders, men, and babyboomers were most likely to make a choice on this basis.

And, as Kiwi waistlines have expanded, so too have fridge sizes.

"A 400-litre fridge would be the most popular. Fifteen years ago it would have been a 370-380-litre fridge."

The era of the beer fridge may be fizzing out, as the survey found younger people least likely to have the drinks-only varieties.

Dennerly said the market was now diverse with "beverage centres" and specialist wine fridges.

"The babyboomers have moved into drinking quite a bit of wine and storing wine properly. Those that are a little more astute are investing in storage so their wine doesn't age prematurely."

The survey polled fridge owners on how satisfied they were with their brand. Fisher & Paykel came out on top overall and for internal layout, service and warranty, energy efficiency and the quality of fittings and fixtures.

Consumers keen to save the planet and to stretch their pennies

1. Do you know your fridge's energy rating?
2. How important is the energy rating when you buy a fridge?

Sophie Foss, 18
Foss was not aware of her fridge's energy rating but she wants her first fridge to be energy-efficient. "It would make my money go a little bit further."

Judy Pridmore, 50
"I bought a new one [in January] and it's supposed to be the efficient one." Pridmore would look for the energy rating next time. "Although, the look of a fridge is also important," she noted.

Josh Bankers, 37
Bankers had no idea what his fridge's energy rating is. "It is an influence, but more so from my wife's point of view."

Laura Kennedy, 22
"I wouldn't have a clue.
"But you don't want [your fridge] using too much power."

William Longbottom, 21
Longbottom believed his fridge has a four-star energy rating. "You want to be good for the environment." He listed space, noise and self-closing doors and beepers as key considerations, too.

- Herald on Sunday

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