Your refrigerator is the hardest working appliance in your home, so it’ll benefit both your wallet and the environment if you make an effort to keep it energy efficient. Follow these tips, and your refrigerator will be working smarter, not harder.
Choose or upgrade to an energy-efficient model
This might seem like stating the obvious, but refrigerators have come a long way in their evolution in terms of energy efficiency. A highly-efficient model from 5 or 10 years ago could easily be costing you twice as much to run as a newer model. If your refrigerator is well into its years, it might be worth considering an upgrade.
As you’re looking for a new fridge, pay attention to its physical as well as technological features. Frost-free, freezer top and freezer bottom models are generally more energy-efficient than multi-door models. This is especially so if you’re not going to be able to keep a large fridge stocked.
Give your fridge a cool place and some room to breathe
The position of your fridge can have an impact on how hard it has to work. Make sure it is as far away from heat sources like ovens and radiators as possible. Also try to keep it out of direct sunlight.
Make sure there’s at least 5 cm of free space around the sides, the back and the top of your fridge for ventilation. Without this air gap, your fridge will not be able to release the heat from the compressor. In turn, this causes your fridge to heat up and work harder and longer to keep your food safe.
Keep the door closed
It’s easy to get distracted and walk away from the refrigerator for a moment, leaving the door open. But this lets all the cool air out and all the warm air in, so the appliance will have to up its work rate to get things cool again. Try to keep door opening times to a minimum to put less stress on the appliance.
Keep your fridge organised
You might argue that good fridge organisation is just a point of good housekeeping—how could it possibly impact the efficiency of your appliance? Well, the less time you spend rummaging around looking for food with the refrigerator door open, the less the condenser has to work to get the temperature back to the set level. Plus, if you organise your refrigerator properly food will last longer too.
Keep your fridge full
Well, as much as you can, at least. A fuller fridge has less air to keep cool, so doesn’t have to work quite as hard as a sparsely populated appliance.
When sufficiently loaded, items help keep each other cool. You should be able to keep your refrigerator at least 2/3 full. If your fridge is too big, add jugs of water in both compartments. That said, don’t go cramming it full to bursting—good airflow is important for efficient refrigerator operation. Also, watch out for air vents and make sure items are not blocking them.
Store Food Properly
Use refrigerator-safe containers to store all food. Glass containers are better than plastic ones because glass absorbs and retains cold better. Moisture inside your fridge will make it harder to stabilise the internal temperature. Cover foods and liquids to avoid over-working the compressor.
Don’t put hot food in your refrigerator
Putting hot food in your refrigerator raises the air temperature inside, so naturally the appliance has to work hard to bring that temperature back down again. Some worry that leaving food out gives it a chance to spoil but allowing leftovers to reach room temperature before putting them in the refrigerator is perfectly safe.
Keep an eye on door seals
The seals around your refrigerator’s door are the barrier between the cool air inside and the warm air outside. Any break in this seal will mean warm air gets into the refrigerator, so it’ll have to work harder to maintain the set temperature. Keep the door seals clean and have them replaced if you notice any cracks or splits.
Keep the coils clean
The condenser coils on your refrigerator are crucial in keeping the temperature inside cool. However, over time they can collect a serious amount of dust if left unchecked. Keeping these clean will put less stress on the condenser and will ultimately extend the life of your refrigerator. Just remember, it’s best to unplug the appliance when cleaning the coils, and a vacuum or brush is the best tool for the job.
Keep an eye on the actual temperature inside your refrigerator
The temperature you set your fridge to isn’t necessarily the temperature you’re actually getting. This can go both ways—your refrigerator might be slightly warmer or slightly cooler that the temperature set on the dial. Somewhere between 2.2oC and 3.3oC is the ideal temperature. If your thermometer is telling you you’re at the lower end of this range, you could nudge your appliance’s temperature dial up a little. This will translate to noticeable energy savings.
Use power saving settings
While not a feature on all refrigerators, if your appliance has a power saver mode or vacation mode, put it to use! If there’s not very much in your fridge to keep cool, then engaging the power saver mode will reduce energy consumption.
By following these simple tips, you won’t just improve your appliances energy efficiency, you’ll also be extending its lifespan. A double win!