Tips for a More Energy-Efficient Refrigerator
Did you know that your refrigerator generally accounts for about 14 percent of the electricity consumption in your entire house? It doesn’t matter if you’re taking a bath, sleeping, or away at the beach, your refrigerator is always working hard to keep your food nice and cold.
But if your refrigerator isn’t operating as efficiently as it could be, you could be losing more and more money every second of every day. This can add up fast. Luckily, there are plenty of free ways to help make sure your refrigerator is running as efficiently as possible. Here are a few.
Let your refrigerator breathe
In the same way that sitting on the couch all day can make the cushions warm, a refrigerator pressed up flush against a wall can heat the wall. The “hot” wall will gladly return the favor, sharing that heat back with the refrigerator. The hotter your refrigerator gets, the more work it’ll have to do in order to maintain that ideal internal temperature.
Even worse: the harder your refrigerator has to work its motor, the more external heat it’ll generate. The solution to this “no win” scenario is simple: make sure to give your refrigerator some room to breathe. The California Energy Commission suggests letting air circulate around the condenser coils. Leave some space between the back of your unit and the wall. This will allow for better air flow. When your refrigerator needs to crank up its motor in order to compensate for an internal rise in temperature, the resulting heat will then be allowed to disperse into the kitchen. If it doesn’t linger, it won’t add any extra work to your already hard-working refrigerator.
Open your refrigerator door in quick bursts
When your kids keep the refrigerator door open for no other reason than to feel a nice rush of cool air on their skin, or your spouse keeps the door open for five minutes while trying to decide what to eat for lunch, you’re losing a lot of hard-earned money. It’s important to remember how refrigerators work. Simply put, they expend a certain amount of energy in order to reach and maintain a certain interior temperature.
Whenever you open the refrigerator door and let some of that cool air escape into the kitchen, the interior temperature of the unit obviously rises, and the refrigerator must expend an appropriate amount of energy to get back to where it was temperature-wise in the first place. The longer you keep the door open, the more work you’re giving your refrigerator to do. To keep your unit energy-efficient, make sure that you drop the bad habit of letting the door hang open for minutes at a time.
But how can you find what you want if you only keep the refrigerator door open for a few seconds? It’s easy if you keep your refrigerator shelves organized. Be consistent with where in the refrigerator you keep various types of food. Then, when you want to grab the lunch meat or eggs, you’ll be able to swing the door open, grab them, and swing the door shut again before your refrigerator even knows what happened.
Check the inside temperature of your refrigerator
If the inside of your refrigerator is 10 degrees colder than it needs to be to keep your food cool and fresh, you could be paying up to 25 percent more than necessary each month on your electricity bill. Don’t always go by what your refrigerator’s internal thermometer says; older refrigerators may not give accurate temperature readings. If you really want to streamline your fridge for full energy efficiency, check your unit’s internal temperature with a separate thermometer.
The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that your refrigerator’s inner temperature should be somewhere between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit for greatest energy efficiency. If you discover that your refrigerator has been giving you inaccurate temperature readings, then play with the temperature settings until your independent thermometer confirms your target temperature.
When every penny counts, it’s important to get proactive about energy efficiency. Consistently follow the three tips mentioned above and you should see a difference in your monthly electricity bill. It might take a little extra time out of your day at first, but it’ll also add some money into your wallet.