Is Your Refrigerator Costing You Thousands Every Year?

How the Right Refrigerator Can Reduce Wasteful Food Spoilage

Your refrigerator could be a friend or foe in the kitchen, depending on the quality of food preservation it provides. Choose the right one, and you’ll cut back on wasteful food spoilage and needless trips to the grocery store.

Here’s how to cool down on the unnecessary surplus of food costs.

Spoiled Food Spoils Your Budget  

American families throw away about 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy. That’s up to $2,275 each year, wasted, for the average family of four. On a macro scale, that’s 40 percent of food (or $165 billion) in the United States, uneaten.

Fresh fruits and vegetables account for the largest waste, followed closely by dairy, and proteins like meat, poultry and fish. The primary causes of food spoilage are poor refrigeration storage, low interior visibility to see all contents available to eat, partially used ingredients and misjudged food needs.

The Cold Facts: How to Keep Food Fresh, Longer

Refrigeration has been a part of our culture for 125 years or more, and became essential in American kitchens before the end of World War II. However, most Americans today still are unaware of what it takes to keep foods safe in the fridge, nor how to prolong storage life.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that most consumers do not understand the consequences of storing foods at the wrong temperature. And, only 4 in 10 are aware that eating food stored higher than 40°F will increase the likelihood of foodborne illness.

Food preservation is a science of the proper storage environment. The key to how long food will last is directly related to the cooling performance of your refrigerator. Storing food at 40°F or below will delay bacterial growth and freezing below 32°F places bacteria in a dormant state, inhibiting growth.

Digital controls on Marvel Professional built-in refrigerators offer precise temperature stability within one degree or less.

Let’s take a look at one of the most delicate items to store: fruit. Refrigeration is proven to control the ripening process. For example, fruits that ripen on the plant need to be preserved after picking to delay deterioration. These include strawberries, grapes, cherries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, tangerines, oranges, limes and blackberries.

Most fruits that continue to ripen after harvest can be stored at room temperature until they reach peak ripeness, then placed in the refrigerator to preserve it and prevent early spoilage. These kinds of fruits are avocados, pears, plum and tomatoes. Cut fruit always requires refrigeration, as it exposes more of the fruit to microbes and bacterial contamination, accelerating the ripening process.  

Buyer Beware: Not All Refrigerators Cool the Same

Stay clear of refrigerators with fluctuating temperature swings and stratified cooling within the compartment. This kind of erratic cooling environment can release moisture, which leads to mold and microbe growth and inevitably premature spoilage.

And, setting the control to 40°F doesn’t necessarily mean the compartment is 40°F throughout. In competitive product testing conducted by Marvel Refrigeration, certain models from other brands were unable to maintain a consistent compartment temperature like Marvel products can. In some cases, the top shelf area was 12°F warmer than the bottom shelf, an unstable storage environment that is not ideal for perishables.

Considered a premium refrigeration option, Marvel’s line of full-size and undercounter refrigerators rapidly cool down food to preservation temperature and maintain an even temperature and stable environment. This minimizes the moisture evaporation that can lead to mold growth and degraded food quality. Some models include a moisture-control evaporator to remove excess humidity and ion air purifier to eliminate airborne bacteria, mold spores and odors.

Ion air purifiers, like this filterless one from Marvel Professional, remove airborne bacteria, mold spores and odors that can cause food to decay in your fridge.

Look for Models with Specialty Storage Bins for Specific Foods

Some full size refrigerator brands like Marvel Refrigeration offer dedicated storage such as dairy compartments, deli drawers for meats and cheeses and humidity-adjustable drawers for vegetables and fruit.

More than just a convenient feature, these specialized compartments are engineered to provide the ideal environment for specific food items, ultimately prolonging shelf life.

MARVEL Professional 36" French Door Refrigerator with Bottom Freezer crisper controls | AMPROFD23

This Marvel model offers 12 temperature settings to customize the food storage environment to the ideal temperature for serving and maintaining freshness.

The Importance of Good Lighting

Poor interior visibility is also a big factor in food spoilage. Simply by being able to see all your food options, you can prioritize the stored food you eat by its expiration date and expected shelf life.

We’ve all probably experienced this personally on more than one occasion, when leftovers are hiding in a dark corner and forgotten about until a horrific rotting smell alerts you of their presence. Well-distributed refrigeration lighting helps you determine what’s there and also what needs to be eaten sooner than later.

Consider models with well-dispersed bright white LED lighting that fill the interior with light from corner to corner, leaving no area overlooked.

Buying a New Refrigerator? Look For These Qualities.

When it comes time to replace your full size refrigerator, be sure to look at these factors to know you’re choosing a model that will preserve your food longer and prevent wasteful food loss from early spoilage.

  • Dynamic Cooling Technology or forced air cooling with precise temperature control
  • Specific compartments for dedicated food storage (dairy, meats and cheese, produce)
  • Ion air purifier
  • Bright LED lighting
  • ENERGY STAR® rating a plus, the indicator of energy-efficient performance

There are also plenty of undercounter options to expand your food preservation capabilities in the kitchen, like refrigerator drawers, beverage centers, all refrigerators, freezers and other built-in appliances that tuck in flush with your lower kitchen cabinets.

Invest in a top-performing refrigerator, and you’ll find it pays out in dividends over the years by reducing grocery bills and energy costs. After all, our parents were right: Food is meant to be eaten, not wasted. Especially when it hits our pocketbooks.

Recommended Products to Extend Food Shelf Life:

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Buying Guide: Undercounter Refrigerator Appliances

5 Important Attributes to Consider Before Buying an Undercounter Appliance

Undercounter refrigeration is not merely a box to keep things cold nor is it a commodity item decided on a simple matter of price. Today’s options provide varying degrees of cooling performance, storage configurations, styles and finishes. And, undercounter options have expanded to beverage centers, wine cellars, freezers, ice machines and beer dispensers to offer even more diverse preservation capabilities for your home. To make sure you’re getting the right mix of quality, function and value in your next undercounter purchase, start with this buyers guide for an educated shopping experience.

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Manufacturers like Marvel Refrigeration continue to develop new undercounter categories aimed to offer flexible preservation solutions to homeowners. Shown here: Marvel Professional Dual Zone Wine Cellar and Marvel Professional Beverage Center with MaxStore Bin.

1. Temperature Stability

We all know the measure of a good refrigerator is how well it cools, but are you aware that several undercounter brands’ cabinet temperature can fluctuate by as much as 10 to 15 degrees?

As discussed in the Outdoor Refrigerator Buying Guide, there is a distinct difference in cooling technologies across the industry.  Low-grade static cold plate cooling creates disparities in air distribution, creating an uneven temperature stratification effect.  In other words, the top compartment might be 15 degrees warmer than the bottom and other areas might cause items to frost.  Dynamic forced air actively recirculates cold air throughout the cabinet from top to bottom and is an upgrade worth investing in, especially if you plan to store wine and delicate foods.

Additionally, some models are designed with extended off-cycles before cycling back on to cool again. This is essentially an engineering workaround for poor thermal cabinet design as an effort to improve energy efficiency, but ultimately it translates to erratic temperature swings.

Minimizing temperature variance is critical to the shelf life of the contents you’re storing.  A stable preservation environment contributes to improved food quality (including flavor and nutrition), longer-lasting freshness and ultimately less food waste.

BUYER TIP

Choose an undercounter refrigerator with forced air circulation, like Dynamic Cooling Technology from Marvel.  smarter-hv-cooling-icon

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Marvel Refrigeration engineered the internal storage compartment to enhance air flow for a precisely even cabinet temperature and greater cooling efficiency. Shown here: Marvel Professional Undercounter Freezer and Marvel Professional Undercounter Refrigerator.

2. Cooldown Time

Surprisingly, few homeowners consider this aspect when shopping for an undercounter refrigerator and it’s an attribute that can impact your lifestyle the most. Rapid cooldown is a necessary convenience for today’s fast-paced lifestyles, and particularly important when stocking your undercounter refrigerator full of room-temperature cases of beverages for a party later than night. Nothing takes the refreshing zest out of a carbonated beverage like serving it lukewarm.

Additionally, rapid temperature pull-down prevents bacteria growth in your perishables for safer food consumption.

The better the cold air circulation (i.e. forced air cooling), the faster contents will be cooled to your desired set temperature.

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BUYER TIP

Select a model with a proven cooldown rate.  For example, Marvel’s rapid cooldown is tested to be up to three times faster than other models.cooldown

3. Energy-Saving Features, Efficiency and Operating Costs

Energy consumption remains a hot-button topic, as consumers seek ways to reduce annual household expenses and their overall carbon footprint, without taking shortcuts on features and performance.

Fortunately for homeowners, the Department of Energy enforced more stringent energy regulations on the appliance industry in 2014. Michigan-based manufacturer AGA Marvel welcomed the changing regulations as an opportunity to retool its entire undercounter line, and now offers the largest collection of ENERGY STAR® rated undercounter appliances.  In fact, many of its models exceed the EPA ENERGY STAR® requirements – in some cases by 30%!

Look for additional energy-saving options, such as integrated controls with Eco mode, Vacation mode and Delay Start. And, there are features that prevent energy loss, too, like Close Door Assist to automatically bring the door to a gentle close and alarms to alert you of energy-compromising issues.

Another measure of thermal efficiency is the model’s cabinet and door insulation, as it’s the most effective protection from external heat transfer and cold air loss and affects overall efficiency. Marvel discovered a way to design its models with well-placed dense insulation that does not compromise internal storage volume.

BUYER TIP

Be sure to read the product’s Energy Guide for projected annual energy costs, and look for the ENERGY STAR® mark.

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4. Capacity and Storage Flexibility

Review storage options and interior capacity of models at the footprint size you need.  Ask yourself, will this model suit my storage needs now and in the future? Can it fit extra-large platters and pizza boxes? Can it accommodate tall items? Does it offer optional wine storage?  Is there a clear rollout bin to store loose items or produce?

Pick a model able to store the items you use most often. For example, Marvel offers models with convertible shelving that allows you to store any configuration of food, beverages and even wine bottles.

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BUYER TIP

Insist on versatile storage solutions like cantilevered shelving and convertible shelving that can adapt to fit your lifestyle as it changes.

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5. Fit and Finish

Manufacturers offer undercounter models in a variety of aesthetics, including solid and glass-framed doors in stainless steel, black, custom panel-ready and other finishes. If you prefer a truly built-in look, you’ll want a panel-ready model with a soft-close integrated hinge to seamlessly blend with your cabinetry.

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BUYER TIP

Explore finish options with timeless appeal, and consider the fully integrated look of overlay panels.

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RECOMMENDED UNDERCOUNTER APPLIANCES

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Outdoor Refrigerator Buying Guide

7 Critical Features to Look For in an Outdoor Appliance

Outdoor kitchens demand a higher level of durability, reliability and performance from the appliances chosen for the strenuous job, and not all appliances rise to the call. You need a sentinel built to last, specifically designed to grapple with inclement weather and keep your food and beverages evenly cold without missing a beat – or straining your energy bill.

Here’s an expert guide of what to look for in an outdoor kitchen appliance and why quality matters just as much as its looks.

outdoor refrigerator buying guide
Outdoor Kitchen Featuring Marvel Outdoor Refrigerators

1. DURABILITY

Is it certified for outdoor use?

Mother Nature is a fickle environment of fluctuating temperatures, intense UV exposure and ever-changing weather conditions. Therefore it is vital to confirm the appliance you’re buying is UL or CSA certified for outdoor use to endure elements like rain, corrosion, high humidity and temperatures. This makes all the difference between an outdoor refrigerator that lasts a few years and one that lasts for the long haul. And, most importantly, it protects you from risk of electrical shock from an indoor unit being improperly installed in an outdoor environment without the proper safety implements.

Marvel’s engineering director Jim Holland explains the distinction, “Marvel Outdoor appliances are tested against the rigorous demands of the UL 471 commercial product certification for power cord insulation, UV exposure and rain testing – the most difficult test to pass, but the most critical in regards to safety.”

Educated buyers can be assured that Marvel Outdoor models will perform even in high humidity environments and temperatures up to 115° F, in addition to its hard-earned certification for outdoor use. Each product is built with a durable stainless steel exterior to resist corrosion and commercial-grade power cord for safe performance in outdoor kitchens.

Buyer Tip: Look for outdoor-use disclaimers in warranty details to determine whether a model is truly intended for outdoor installation.

2. COOLING PERFORMANCE

Will it keep my perishables evenly cold without temperature swings?

Not all cooling systems are created equal. Let’s explain the differences between the cooling technologies available on the market.

Cold Plate vs. Forced Air

A cold plate is a frigid surface located in the refrigerator storage compartment that statically cools via natural convection through contact with the air. The major drawback of this method is that contents may obstruct cool air flow and colder air falls, creating temperature stratification inside the unit, meaning your food and beverages will not be cooled as evenly or effectively as forced air technologies.

Forced air actively recirculates compartment air multiple times per cooling cycle, delivering more consistent cold air circulation throughout the cabinet. The best type of forced air cooling you can find is Marvel’s Dynamic Cooling Technology™, which offers the industry’s most precise temperature stability and rapid cooldown, in some cases even twice as fast as other outdoor refrigerator models.

Buyer Tip: Ask your dealer to explain the cooling technology of the models you’re considering and compare performance.

3. ENERGY CONSUMPTION

Will my utility bill go through the roof?

By nature of operating in often extreme outdoor conditions, efficiency becomes more difficult to maintain, nevertheless certain manufacturers have mastered the balance of cooling performance and energy consumption. For example, Marvel Outdoor Refrigerators cost on average less than $25 per year to operate, compared to their competitive counterparts that can cost upwards to 50% more to operate.

Buyer Tip: Reference product energy guides to compare annual energy costs among outdoor models of the same cubic feet capacity.

4. RELIABILITY

Will I have to service it often or replace it later?

Don’t let lower price models fool you – economy is best determined by longevity. Consider this math to compare models: amortize the total cost of an outdoor unit by its projected longevity and annual operating cost. If you need to service a lower quality unit more frequently – or worse yet, replace it – then you haven’t gained any savings overall. In fact, it can cost you more time, money and headaches.

Lower-priced refrigerators are often made from vinyl-cladded steel or a ferrous, stainless-steel look-alike susceptible to corrosion. The average outdoor refrigerator lasts 5 years, whereas a premium outdoor refrigerator is built to last as many as 10 years or more on account of its durable construction of high-quality materials, refrigeration technology and parts. Be sure to also explore warranty coverage, too.

Buyer Tip: Invest for the long-term, and you’ll be glad you did.

5. SIZE/CAPACITY

Does it offer the volume and depth to store larger items?

Did you know that not all outdoor models are capable of storing an extra-large pizza box? Marvel models are unique in that they have 20% more depth than competing models, which means you can store extra-large platters and pizza boxes for entertaining large crowds.

Got your eyes on an outdoor kegerator? Marvel Outdoor Beer Dispensers are the only outdoor keg cooler that can fit a half barrel – and mobile models are available to take the party with you wherever you go.

Buyer Tip: Measure (or bring) the largest item you anticipate storing to confirm it fits inside the outdoor model you want. You might be surprised at how your eye can trick you into thinking there’s more space than there actually is.

6. STORAGE VERSATILITY

Can it change with me as my storage needs change?

Think of the items you’ll want to store now, and also later. Inevitably, your storage needs will change over time, and you’ll need an outdoor refrigerator that adapts with you over time. Adjustable cantilever shelving is an important feature to customize the interior to your needs.

Certain outdoor kegerators, like Marvel Outdoor Beer Dispensers, feature stow-on-board shelves to convert the unit to a full refrigerator when you’re not storing kegs.

Buyer Tip: Have your dealer show you how to adapt the model to other storage configurations, so you can gauge its versatility.

7. ADDED SAFETY AND SECURITY

Does the door lock?

Look for outdoor appliances with security locks to ensure the safety of curious children and also protect inside contents.

Buyer Tip: Some manufacturers like Marvel Refrigeration offer door locks as a standard feature rather than an extra option with added cost.

Recommended Marvel Outdoor Refrigerator Appliances

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