Energy Tip: 7 Steps to a More Efficient Refrigerator

Your refrigerator is on 24 hours a day, making it the hardest-working appliance in your kitchen. Here are some smart ways you can help lower the cost of operating it while keeping your food fresher longer.

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Your refrigerator is on 24 hours a day, making it the hardest-working appliance in your kitchen. Here are some smart ways you can help lower the cost of operating it while keeping your food fresher longer.

1. Make Sure It’s in a Good Location
Where you place your refrigerator can make a big difference on how efficiently it performs. If it’s too close to your stove, radiator or any other source of heat, it will have to work harder to keep the inside cold. Also, be sure to keep a few inches of space around it so the vents can breathe a bit. Check your manual for the recommended amount of space required to keep your fridge running smoothly and stick to it.

2. Check the Seals
If your door seals are worn, loose or damaged, you’re letting the cold air slip out and driving up the cost to run the unit. By replacing the old seals with new ones, you can keep more of the cold air on your food where it belongs. Plus, replacing gaskets is a lot less expensive than buying a new refrigerator.

3. Clean the Coils
Once a year it pays to pull the refrigerator away from the wall and clean the condenser coils by using a vacuum with a crevice tool or a good stiff brush. If you have a pet that sheds, you may want to do this more often as pet hair can collect quickly and wind up in the strangest places. The more dust or hair that’s on the coils, the better the chances of your unit overheating and the harder it has to work to stay cool inside.

4. Keep It Well-Stocked
If your refrigerator usually contains no more than a couple of takeout containers and some condiments, it can cost you more to run it. By keeping it well-stocked with food, it won’t have to work as hard to cool all that empty space surrounding the shelves, so get shopping.

5. Don’t Put Hot Food Away
It’s nice to keep a clean kitchen, but there’s no need to put food away while it’s still hot. So keep that steaming tray of lasagna on the counter until it cools before putting it in the refrigerator. When you put hot food in your fridge, it has to work harder to cool it down to the temperature of the other foods.

6. Set the Temperature Correctly
According to howstuffworks, the ideal temperature setting for refrigerators is between 35 and 38 degrees. Setting it too cold wastes electricity and can potentially freeze your food. If you keep it above 38 degrees, you run the risk of foods forming bacteria or milk spoiling early.

7. Don’t Eat with the Door Open
At midnight it can be pretty tempting to chomp on a cold piece of pizza while staring into the refrigerator. But leaving the door open wastes energy and makes your fridge work harder to keep the inside at the proper temperature. Do yourself a favor; shut the door and grab a seat. Your energy bill will thank you for it.

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