Refrigerators can be the largest energy consumers in the home making it a primary target if you're looking to cut your energy expenses and reduce your environmental impact. The easiest way to reduce the energy use from your refrigerator is to replace it with a new, energy-efficient model, especially if it's more than 15 years old. The savings in energy consumption will help the fridge pay for itself in just a few years.
But what about newer refrigerators or anyone who doesn't have a few thousand dollars laying around for an upgrade? Here are some tried and true tips and tricks to help your fridge be more efficient.
1. Clean the Coils
Usually located either on the back of the refrigerator or underneath a grill on the front, the condenser coils do the heavy lifting in terms of cooling. If they become caked with dirt and dust, it can cause the appliance to have to work harder to eliminate heat. Luckily, this is a relatively easy task. Just unplug the refrigerator and use a vacuum to remove the debris. When you put the refrigerator back into place, leave some space between it and the wall so there's plenty of room for air circulation.
2. Check the Temps
When it comes to food storage, colder isn't always better. If your storage temperatures are just 10°F lower than necessary, your refrigerator can use up to 25% more energy! Fridge temps should be between 36° and 38°F, and freezers should be set between 0° and 5°F. Monitoring temps is simple, and you can pick up a fridge/freezer thermometer for under $10.
When your fridge and freezer are well-organized, you'll spend less time with the door open hunting for what you need. Plus, some condiments such as ketchup, mustard, and vinegar may not even need to be in the fridge at all. Keep your go-to items front and center and use small bins to organize things like cheeses. A stocked fridge and freezer are also easier to keep cool as the items themselves help do the job. Remember, refrigerators/freezers use less energy when full; just remember not to pack it all too full and inhibit air circulation.
4. Inspect Door Seals
Door seals work just like weather stripping on efficient windows: they prevent air from escaping the fridge and failing seals mean higher energy bills. One test is to put a dollar bill in the door as you close it. If you can easily slide the bill out with the door closed, your seals may need to be replaced. For newer fridges with magnetic seals, place a bright light inside the refrigerator and kill the kitchen lights. If you can see light coming through the edges of the door, your seals need replacing.
5. Move the Fridge
This may not be a feasible option in many kitchens, but if you're remodeling soon or have a versatile space, make sure your refrigerator is not placed in direct sunlight, next to the stove, too close to the dishwasher, or anywhere else that will cause the appliance to work harder to stay cold.
We Can Help!
To learn more about making your appliances more efficient, or to get some help with tasks like replacing seals and cleaning coils, contact Mr. Appliance. Our experts are here to make sure you get the most from your appliances while spending less on energy expenses.