If you've decided to replace your old refrigerator with a new model, you'll want to choose the best unit for your needs. When choosing a new combination refrigerator and freezer, the first decision that needs to be made is whether you want a side-by-side refrigerator or a bottom freezer model. Depending on what you will be storing, a bottom freezer model may have a higher capacity freezer section than it's side-by-side equivalent -- but it may come at a cost.
Refrigerators that have a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer compartment use more energy than their bottom freezer counterparts. The most efficient orientation is to have the freezer compartment located beneath the refrigerator compartment. The second most-efficient orientation is the freezer-on-top model. If you are choosing your next unit based solely on efficiency considerations, the clear winner is the bottom freezer model.
A bottom freezer orientation gives you more horizontal room in both the refrigerator and the freezer compartments. This makes storing low and long items such as casserole dishes considerably easier. With less overall vertical height, however, you may find room for tall bottles and jars reduced. The vertical distance between the shelves may be less, and some taller items may need to be laid down in a bottom freezer model.
A bottom freezer model allows you to stack food in the freezer compartment, without the concern for items falling out when the door is opened. This can be good and bad, as while it may give you more usable space, it also means more food needs to be moved in order to reach items at the bottom of the compartment. This may further lead to forgotten or lost food, and difficulty knowing what food you have.
Reaching and Bending
If you are frequently taking things in and out of your freezer and have any kind of physical mobility issue, a bottom freezer model may not be for you. Whereas in a side-by-side refrigerator, you can keep frequently used freezer items on the higher shelves, you have to bend for each and every item in the bottom freezer compartment.