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Refrigerators are certainly not the most exciting things to write about but they are one of the appliances that use the most energy in our homes. In 2001,U.S. households on average consumed 1,462 kWh for refrigeration (source).A small amount of maintenance can payoff big time!
One the most important things you can do to help your refrigerator run more efficiently is to vacuum the coils. They are usually located either on the bottom front of your machine or on older models on the back. The coils are like magnets for pet hair and dust. The debris makes your refrigerator work harder to keep your food cool. This costs you more money on your electric bill and wastes fossil fuels thus hurting the environment. I use the hose on my vacuum to suck up the hairy mess. My Dyson vacuum makes this an oddly satisfying task since I can see all of the gross debris in the cylinder! It’s also neat to see how much colder your fridge is ten minutes after you clean the coils. I had to turn the temperature up on ours after I cleaned it the first time because all of our produce froze!
Another thing you can do is make sure that you keep your temperatures set correctly. The refrigerator should be set between 38 and 41 degrees F and the freezer should be set between 0 and 5 degrees. You should also try to keep your freezer full since the frozen food will keep things cooler. If you don’t have an over packed freezer like I do you can fill bottles with tap water and keep them in the freezer. The frozen water will keep your freezer cooler.
Using an incandescent light bulb in your freezer is also a bad idea. A lot of people switch their regular bulbs in their homes to compact fluorescent or LEDs and forget about the refrigerator. Incandescent bulbs generate light through heat which will heat your refrigerator and make it work harder to cool after having it open. You can switch to an LED or just not use a bulb at all in your refrigerator. Personally, we just never bothered to replace ours when it went out and truth be told we don’t miss it at all!
Finally, avoid using the top of your refrigerator as storage ( I’m still working on this). The stuff on top of your refrigerator will block airflow especially if you have a cabinet over it and air flow is necessary to make your compressor efficient.