Efforts to increase energy efficiency of refrigerators shall directly reduce energy consumption in residential buildings. Incorporating phase change materials (PCM) is a new approach to improve the performance of refrigerators. In this study, we have tested four different PCMs in two different refrigerator models. Compressor on/off time was optimized and better energy efficiency was achieved. Increasing condenser surface area by 20% enhanced the PCM effect. The use of only 0.95 kg of PCM has resulted in a 9.4% energy saving. Economic analyses show that using PCMs in household refrigerators is clearly a cost effective method that saves energy and reduces harmful emissions. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd and IIR. All rights reserved.