Replacing your current refrigerator or freezer with a new refrigerator or freezer of even average efficiency is a smart step toward saving energy and lowering utility costs.

But you’ll want to be sure that you recycle the older refrigerator or freezer; don’t be tempted to hold on to it as a second, or backup, appliance.

AHAM data shows that more than 40% of appliance owners keep their older refrigerator operating even after purchasing a new model. Unfortunately, that can cancel out your new-model savings. And just by replacing a 15-year old refrigerator with today’s latest ENERGY STAR® model, you’ll save more than half of the energy the old model used, resulting in a savings of more than $55 per year.

Reasons to Recycle Your Old Unit

According to ENERGY STAR, the average refrigerator aged 10 years or older contains more than 120 pounds of recyclable steel!

Recycling must be done a certain way, though. Refrigerators and freezers contain refrigerants, oils, and other compounds that, by federal law, must be removed and recovered before the steel, other metals, and selected parts can be recycled.

Four Easy Ways to Recycle

1. Arrange for recycling your old fridge or freezer when you buy the new one.

Many appliance retailers will pick up and recycle your old refrigerator or freezer when you purchase a new one. Ask your retailer for assurance that the old unit will be properly recycled and not resold as a second-hand unit.

2. Check with your state energy office or local electric utility.

Local utilities and energy efficiency organizations support a growing number of refrigerator and freezer recycling programs. Some programs offer cash to properly recycle your old refrigerator or freezer; others offer utility bill credits. To find special offers/rebates in your area, check online at ENERGY STAR or contact your state energy office or local electric utility.

3. Ask about municipal pickup of appliances.

Your local waste management division may offer heavy trash pickup and recycling programs for appliances. Contact them directly for information.

4. Talk to your local scrap metal recycler.

Thousands of local scrap metal recyclers can recycle old refrigerators and freezers. Ask your scrap metal recycler for assurance that your old unit will be properly recycled. To locate a recycler near you, check online at Steel Recycling Institute.