Keep Your Refrigerator Humming

Look for ways to maximize its energy efficiency

For maximum energy efficiency, keep your refrigerator and freezer well stocked.

The refrigerator is one of the home’s biggest energy hogs.

You can help it run more efficiently by:

  • Keeping it level – A fridge on an uneven floor can lean forward just enough to prevent the door gasket from sealing tightly
  • Checking gaskets – Even on a level floor, a refrigerator’s door gasket can wear out. If your door isn’t closing tightly, replace the gasket
  • Cooling food before refrigerating it – Putting hot food into a refrigerator or freezer forces the unit to adjust its temperature to compensate for the heat
  • Covering food before storing it in the fridge – Uncovered food and liquids release moisture and can force the compressor to work harder.
  • Filling it up – A full refrigerator and freezer work more efficiently than a half-empty one – If you don’t have enough food and beverages in the refrigerator, fill it with jugs of water until about two-thirds of the empty space is taken – The same goes for the freezer – Pack bags full of ice and scatter them around the freezer so it is at least three-quarters full
  • Giving it some breathing room – For proper ventilation, a refrigerator needs clearance between its top and the cabinets above it and between its sides and the walls – Likewise, don’t use the top of a refrigerator for storage – Cartons and other items can restrict airflow
  • Moving the unit out of the sunlight and away from the oven – The refrigerator has to work harder to keep everything cool when the outside of it is exposed to heat
  • Cleaning it – Regularly wipe dust, dirt and cobwebs from the top of the fridge and from the coils behind it

Need a New Fridge? Upgrade to an Energy Star Model to Increase Savings

Got an old, energy-wasting refrigerator? Replace it with a new Energy Star certified model. Not only will you enjoy a state-of-the-art fridge, according to the Energy Star website, you can save more than $270 during the next five years and do something good for the environment.

Thanks to recent improvements in insulation and compressors, today’s refrigerators use much less energy than older models. With an Energy Star-certified refrigerator, you can maximize your energy and dollar savings without sacrificing features.

When shopping for a new fridge:

  • Look for the Energy Star label to ensure it is energy efficient
  • Check the yellow EnergyGuide label to determine the model’s energy use – The label allows you to compare it to similar models and estimate annual operating costs
  • Buy a refrigerator with a top-mounted freezer – They use 10% to 25% less energy than bottom-mount or side-by-side models
  • Buy an appropriately sized refrigerator – Generally, the larger the fridge, the greater the energy use – The most energy-efficient models are 16 to 20 cubic feet
  • Skip the automatic ice maker and through-the- door dispenser – They increase energy use 14% to 20% and raise the price $75 to $250

Don’t forget to recycle your old refrigerator. If you have a second refrigerator in your basement or garage, you should recycle that one, too. Refrigerators more than 10 years old could be costing you $110 a year.