Refrigerator Energy Conservation Tips

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The average household refrigerator uses approximately 90w to 600w of electrical energy. The amount of energy used can be greatly reduced by practicing good conservation techniques.

No Cost

  • Adjust the refrigerator temperature settings. Optimum refrigerator range is 37 to 40°F and freezer range is 0 to 5°F. Avoid placing your refrigerator on unreasonably low temperature settings. If the temperature control system does not specify degrees, check the manual for corresponding settings.
  • Minimize door openings as much as possible. Cool air escapes every time the refrigerator door is opened. The unit then works harder to replace the air. Keep the door open no longer than necessary and be sure to close the door completely.
  • Allow hot foods to cool before placing them in the refrigerator. Hot food decreases the temperature in the refrigerator temporarily forcing the refrigerator to work harder to keep the air cool.
  • Keep the refrigerator full. A full refrigerator retains cold better than an empty one. If the refrigerator is nearly empty, store water-filled containers inside. The mass of cold items will enable the refrigerator to recover more quickly after the door has been opened.
  • Do not overfill your refrigerator or freezer since that will interfere with the circulation of cold air inside.
  • Turn on your refrigerator's "energy saver" switch. In damp environments make sure that excess condensation does not form on the inside of the unit. If condensation forms, turn the energy saver switch off.
  • Keep your refrigerator away from heat sources, such as an oven, a dishwasher and direct sunlight from a window. A 10°F increase in surrounding temperature can result in 20% higher energy consumption.
  • Check door seals (also called the gasket) on the refrigerator. A broken seal is the same as leaving the door open. Replace seals that are torn or partially missing. To test it, close the door on a single sheet of paper and try to pull it out. If it slides out easily, the gasket needs to be replaced to prevent cold air from leaking out, or consider buying a new unit.
  • Avoid blocking the air flow passages to and from the condenser coils. Cleaning the condenser coils will save energy and help the refrigerator run better and more efficiently. The condenser coils ( hot coils ) should be cleaned once a year. If you have a pet with long hair, it is a good idea to clean coils every 6 months.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost models. Frost buildup increases the amount of energy needed to keep the motor running. Avoid excessive ice build-up on the interior surfaces of the evaporator.
  • Turn off and recycle your second refrigerator. Many of these secondary units (usually older and less energy efficient) use as much as 40% more energy than a new model.



Low To Medium Cost

  • Refrigerators with anti-sweat heaters (which prevent condensation) consume 5 to 10% more energy. Buy models with an "energy saver" switch that lets you turn the heaters down or off.
  • Refrigerators under 25 cubic feet will meet the needs of most households. The models over 25 cubic feet use significantly more energy. If you are thinking about purchasing such a large unit, you may want to reconsider.
  • Buy ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator models only. They use high efficiency compressors, improved insulation, and more precise temperature and defrost mechanisms to improve energy efficiency.
  • ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator models use at least 15 percent less energy than required by current federal standards and 40 percent less energy than the conventional models sold in 2001.