Friday, August 12, 2011

Refrigerator Hints

What and how you store food in your refrigerator can affect the amount of energy that is consumed. Make the right choices and over the course of 12 months, the savings can add up!

Refrigerators and freezers should not be set too cold. Refrigerators should maintain a temperature of 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezers should be at 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Stand-alone freezers for long storage can be set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. To check your refrigerator's temperature, set a thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the appliance. Read the thermometer after 24 hours. For a freezer, place a thermometer between packages. Again, read the thermometer after 24 hours.

Keeping your refrigerator full actually helps increase energy efficiency because there is less air to cool. Be careful not to overfill though. Overfilling your refrigerator can hinder air circulation. Also, keep liquids covered and make sure to wrap foods when they are stored in the refrigerator. Not only will uncovered foods dry out and have their taste ruined, but the moisture that is released from uncovered foods causes the refrigerator's compressor to run longer.

Check to make sure the coils behind the refrigerator are cleaned on a regular basis. Keeping coils clean allows for better airflow over the coils resulting in the cooling unit’s compressor running less than if the coils were dirty. Another important task that should be done regularly is defrosting the freezer, if the unit is not a frost-free model. Frost buildup exceeding one quarter of an inch will decrease the unit's energy efficiency.

Here’s another money saving tip: Make sure there is no air leakage around the refrigerator’s door seals. When cold air escapes, the compressor runs longer to replace it. To see if your unit needs new seals, perform the “dollar bill” test. Place a dollar bill between the door and the unit. Close the door. If the bill slides out easily, air is leaking and the hinges and/or seals need to be fixed. If it is difficult to pull out the bill, the seal on the door is in good shape.

Lastly, make sure your refrigerator is in the right location. Though location is often limited by electrical and water hookups, making sure that there is proper air flow around the refrigerator can help it run more efficiently. If the appliance is stored between cabinets, make sure that nothing stored around the unit hinders its airflow. If possible, refrigerators should not be located near windows, stoves, or ovens. Heat from the sun or cooking appliances can cause the refrigerator to expend more energy to keep cool. 

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