11 Simple Tips to Improve Refrigerator Efficiency
If you want to increase your refrigerator's cooling capabilities, you must improve its efficiency. It's important to make your refrigerator run more efficiently to keep your food cool and fresh for longer without allowing food bacteria to grow, but it can also help you save money in energy costs.
A fridge works like a heat pump, removing heated air in order to keep the food cold. And this process uses a lot of energy!
So, How Much Energy Does a Refrigerator Use?
A continuously running fridge can be responsible for 25% to 30% of your annual electricity consumption. If your fridge is not operating properly and is not in good technical condition, it will consume more electricity, which obviously will result in higher electric bills.
Sometimes the fridge doesn't cool properly. The easiest way to make sure you have a fridge that runs efficiently is by replacing an older model with a new, high-efficiency refrigerator. When buying new equipment, read the instructions. The manual says exactly what temperature program should be set for the device to work properly.
But in case you cannot afford to buy a new one, here are 11 simple tips for helping your old refrigerator run better and reduce energy costs in your home.
Keep It Away from Walls and Heat Sources
Check carefully that there is enough distance between the fridge and the wall (at least 4 inches), and that it has no direct contact with a source of heat such as an oven.
The location of the fridge is one of the main reasons why it's not working efficiently because when it is located too close to the wall, or near heat sources, it has to do more work to cool its interior. A long period of such overstraining of the appliance may cause its damage and failure to keep the temperature down.
Keep It Clean
Cleaning out your freezer and fridge is important for it to look aesthetically pleasing and to remove spoiled food, but you should also be mindful about cleaning off the back of the unit. Dirt and dust build-up on the condenser will force your refrigerator to work harder to keep everything inside of it cool or frozen, which means it will use more energy.
Use a vacuum cleaner to dust off the condenser coils and also underneath the refrigerator. Once the coils are clean, the heat will dissipate easier and you will notice that your fridge cycles less often. It will help make your refrigerator last longer and help reduce the amount of electricity it uses.
Limit Opening the Door
Before you open the fridge door, think for a second about why you are doing it and what you want to take out. Doing so, you will minimize the time when the door is open in order not to heat the inside of the fridge unnecessarily.
Immediately close the door after removing the items you need. Don't let the door remain open for an extended time!
Never Put Warm Food Inside
If you place hot or warm food inside the fridge, it will waste unnecessary electricity to cool it down. It will consume three times more electricity to cool it down. So cool the food at room temperature first and then put it in the fridge.
Fill the Inside of the Fridge
A half-empty fridge needs more electricity than a full one. If the fridge and freezer are empty, they maintain a higher temperature and warm up faster when opening its door. That is why it is important to fill the fridge, even with those items that you do not necessarily need to cool. This way the device will keep cold well while having a large volume. Bottles filled with water, juice cartons, jars, and preserves are perfect for filling the fridge.
Cover Your Food
When you put leftovers or beverages in the refrigerator, make sure they are covered. Open beverage containers or wet foods will cause water to evaporate and condense inside of your refrigerator. This will cause it to work harder to keep everything at the appropriate temperature, and it will create a mess as it causes water to collect on the inside of the unit.
You may also keep your food in airtight containers, which will also reduce evaporation. Unfortunately, the fridge is less able to cool moist air, which is reflected in power consumption.
Similarly, products placed in the freezer must be tightly packed. This will limit the formation of frost, and frost equals the need to consume more energy to maintain the intended temperature.
Defrost Frozen Food in the Fridge
If you take anything out of the freezer, put it in the fridge to defrost it. Defrosting will take a little longer time than outside the fridge, but at least you will save on electricity because the frozen product will cool the inside of the fridge.
If you're planning to eat some frozen food, put it in the fridge the day before in the evening.
If you are defrosting the freezer, put all the products in the fridge. The chiller will have less work to do. For more tips on how to properly defrost a freezer, please read my article: Restarting a Freezer after Defrosting
Clean Door Seals
Make sure to clean the seals on the refrigerator doors regularly. Food particles, dust, and grime accumulate on the seals and prevent the doors from closing tightly so find the time to wipe out the door gaskets at least once a month. If the door is left open, even a fraction, your fridge will have to work harder to keep cold everything that is inside of it.
Check the condition of the seals on the fridge door. If the seals are leaking, it is better to replace them. Any leak causes warm air to enter the fridge, and then the chiller must work harder to cool the fridge contents.
There are two very simple ways to check the tightness of door seals:
- When it's dark, place a switched-on flashlight in the fridge, close the door and turn off the light in the kitchen. Look carefully to see if the flashlight can be seen from the outside.
- Check your seals by closing a piece of paper in the door. If you can slide and pull it out easily, then the seals are dirty and there is a leak somewhere. After cleaning the seals, use a silicone spray on the seals to help create good suction to ensure the door closes tightly.
Clean the Drains
Poor cooling may also be caused by a blocked water drain. Look carefully at the drain, and if it's clogged, unplug it and defrost the fridge. Insufficient care of the device can contribute to clogging the drain. This causes the water to freeze, making the thermostat not function properly. The fridge does not know what the right temperature is, which may result in poor cooling.
Check for Broken Thermostat
One of the worst causes for your fridge not cooling efficiently can be a broken thermostat. A thermostat's function is to maintain the correct temperature in the fridge. Check that the thermostat works correctly, and if it is damaged you need to replace it.
Turn off When Going on Holiday
Get rid of all the food from the fridge before leaving your house and turn off the fridge completely. Remember to leave the fridge door open after unplugging it. However, if you leave products in the fridge, put it into the holiday mode of operation or simply raise the temperature of the fridge to the maximum.
Following these tips will help your refrigerator run more efficiently by reducing energy costs and food spoilage. It will also extend your fridge lifespan. If you suspect that there is a mechanical issue with your refrigerator, call a professional to come and repair it for you.