Today 80% of an old fridge is recycled. And your state is offering rebates...
If you have a refrigerator from the 1970s and you replace it with a new fridge the DOE says you'll save about $200 in electric bills per year. Replace one from the 1980's and save over a $100 dollars a year. The new Energy Star models use high-efficiency compressors, improved insulation and more precise temperature and defrost controls. They say any fridge older than 1993 should be replaced.
On the government's Energy Star site there's a "Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator". I put in approximate age of this apartment's fridge, size, type (side-by-side), electricity rate. Hit go. Wow, says this old fridge here in NY costs $410 a year to operate. Says the savings would be $1565 over the next five years if it were replaced by an Energy Star model which would cost a quarter less to operate; $97 a year (v $410) for a similar type refrigerator.
Why is this the green thing to do? Because most home electricity is powered by coal, oil or natural gas. And today 80% of an old fridge is recycled.*
For further impetus, there currently are state appliance rebates in effect. Here in NY the program started Feb 12, 2010. They expire when funds run out. Check your state's programs- www.energysavers.gov.
The NY State rebate is $75 for a fridge, $105 if you show proof your old fridge was recycled. I'm assuming the company you buy your new fridge from will help you with this. So, if I use this $105 against the first year and take into account the $313 electric savings per year- that's $418 toward the new fridge in the first year alone. New York currently has rebate programs for dishwashers, freezers and clothes washers as well. New York warns this programs funds could run out by April 30th, 2010.
Approved Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Programs:
*Watch an old fridge get shredded! Amazing.