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Your refrigerator is the only appliance that works continuously in your home – day after day, all year long. That makes it the largest single user of electricity in your kitchen, accounting for up to ten percent of your monthly power bill – especially if it’s an older unit using two or three times as much electricity as models available today. So, it’s important to keep the refrigerator running at peak efficiency – and to help everyone at your place recognize that they can have a major impact on the amount of electricity it consumes.

  1. Check the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer compartments. Leave an appliance (or outdoor) thermometer in each section overnight. The temperature in the refrigerated section should be 35-38 degrees; in the freezer, look for 0-5 degrees. Adjust the temperature controls as necessary. 10 ways to make the most of your refrigerator’s energy use.
  2. Keep the refrigerator door closed. Every time you open the door, about 30 percent of the cool air tumbles out. And standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open wastes even more energy!
  3. Keep your refrigerator and freezer compartments full. Food (and even containers filled with water or ice) will retain the cold temperatures better than empty spaces. As a result, the compressor will run less often.
  4. When you close the door, give it a little extra push. Make sure the door gasket seals completely by gently pushing on the door, even after it feels tightly closed. Check the door visually too.
  5. Clean the condenser coils once or twice a year. After unplugging the unit, pull it away from the wall and use a vacuum cleaner or soft brush to remove dust from the condenser coils underneath (or on the back of) the appliance.
  6. Let your refrigerator breathe. Don’t use the top of the refrigerator or the spaces on both the sides of the unit for storage. To work at peak efficiency, the refrigerator needs plenty of ventilation space around it to release the hot air produced during cooling cycles.
  7. Allow cooked foods to cool before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer. Adding hot foods to the refrigerator will make the compressor run overtime to compensate for the higher temperatures. Use shallow containers, so the foods will cool more quickly.
  8. Use lids or tops on food-storage containers. Moisture from foods and liquids evaporating inside the appliance will cause the compressor to run longer.
  9. Label all food items before you put them in the freezer. You’ll be able to find what you’re looking for more quickly, reducing the time the door is open (and cold air is escaping).
  10. Regularly service a manual-defrost freezer. Frost in the freezer compartment prevents the cold in the cooling coils from circulating properly, so defrost the unit before the ice is a quarter-inch thick.

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