The Secret Home Energy Hog: Your Ice Maker

The Secret Home Energy Hog: Your Ice Maker

Taryn Williford
Apr 15, 2011

My old place was a dump. I rented one of three bedrooms in an old, unkempt home. A home without the frills of modern life. I had to wash my own dishes. I had to freeze my own ice. You know, like in plastic ice trays that needed to be refilled with water almost every day in the sweltering Southern summer. But there's one thing that makes me look back fondly on that house: The energy bills were ridiculously cheap.

The utility bills at that old house were cheap because we were using less energy because we had fewer appliances to run. But what's surprising is a big bulk of that saved energy came from not having an automatic ice maker.

We all know the fridge is an energy hog in any home. But the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) wanted to figure out why.

It turns out, according to's Ecocentric blog, the average ice maker in the average fridge increases energy consumption by 12 percent to 20 percent when it's on. Which is, you know, 24/7.

Why is so much energy fed to the ice maker?

It has nothing to do with the actual freezing process; after all, your freezer will freeze water into ice with or without an automatic ice maker.

It's due to the mechanics that dump the newly-frozen ice out of the mold and into your ice tray. In order to operate in the, well, freezing temperatures of your freezer, the machine's motor requires an internal heater. And if you've ever paid an energy bill in January, you know that heating elements are expensive to maintain.

Shut it Off

So what can you do to trim down your energy bill? Shut the ice maker off.

Most automatic ice makers have a lever which tells it when the ice tray is full. By lifting that lever all the way up, you can turn off the ice maker, get back to refilling plastic trays and recoup some energy savings.

via Ecocentric

(Images: Flickr member Timothy Valentine licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member Kenn Wilson licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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