Whether you’re trying to conserve power because you’re living off the grid, or you’re simply trying to lower your electric bill, making your refrigerator more energy efficient is one of the best ways to go about it. Refrigerators are one of the biggest energy hogs in any household. They’re always on, endlessly cycling between cooling down and warming up; and when the compressor is running, they consume a lot of watts.
The less often your fridge has to cool itself to maintain proper temperatures, and the more efficiently it can do that, the less power it will use. Whether you have a brand new energy star model or an old hand-me-down from 20 years ago, there are several steps you can take to ensure your refrigerator is running smoothly and staying as cool for as long as possible.
Here are nine tips and tricks you can use to make your fridge more energy efficient.
9 Ways to Make Your Fridge More Energy Efficient
1. Check the Seals
The first thing you should do to ensure your fridge is as energy efficient as it can be is to check the seals around the edge of the door. If the seals are working properly, you should be able to snuggly sandwich a piece of paper between them. If you can easily wiggle the paper around, or if the seals don’t hold it in place at all, they need to be replaced.
2. Keep it Full
An empty fridge will lose heat faster and take longer to cool than a full fridge. The fuller you keep your fridge, the more energy efficient it will be because there is less space for air to circulate. Even a sealed empty container is better than nothing at all.
3. Put a Lid on Everything
Open containers have more surface area and leave more space for air, which means they are less energy efficient than sealed containers. Put a lid on everything in your fridge so it doesn’t have to work as hard.
4. Store in a Cool Area
Keep your fridge in an area of your house where it is not near your oven, furnace, direct sunlight, or any other source of heat.
5. Set the Thermostat to the Optimal Temperature
Your refrigerator needs to be cold enough to keep your food from spoiling, but it doesn’t need to be as cold as it can get. For optimal food safety and energy efficiency, set the thermostat in your fridge to 40º F, and your freezer to 0º F.
6. Keep the Coils Clean
Dust and dirt will inevitably build up on your fridge’s coils no matter how clean you keep your house. The dirtier they are, the less efficiently they’ll operate. Check the coils every three to four months to make sure they’re clean. If they look dirty, just give them a good wipe with a clean rag.
7. Don’t Stack Things on Top of It
Stacking things on top of your fridge might seem like a good storage solution, but it’s not good for your refrigerator’s energy efficiency. Items stacked on top of the fridge create an insulating effect, which prevents heat from naturally escaping as it rises.
8. Turn Off the Automatic Ice Maker
If your fridge has a freezer with an automatic ice maker, you should turn it off. Making ice cubes the old fashioned way uses a lot less power.
9. Put Bottles of Salt Water in the Freezer
If your fridge has a freezer, making some salt water ice cubes is an easy way to keep it cold longer. Salt water has a lower freezer point than fresh water, which means it gets colder than ice made with fresh water, and therefore takes longer to heat back up. Simply fill some plastic bottles, ziplock bags, or Tupperware containers with salt water and place them in the freezer – just make sure to leave some space in the containers for expansion.