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Increase the Efficiency of Your Refrigerator

Nov 23, 2016

New or old – there's a way to increase the efficiency of every refrigerator. Here's how to do it:

Increase Your Temperature Settings


A refrigerator temperature of 37°F and a freezer temperature of 0°F will keep your food from spoiling, without causing you to spend unnecessarily (usually the middle setting on the temperature knob).

To test the temperature of your refrigerator, place a thermometer in a glass of water, and check it the next day (or after the fridge has been closed for eight hours). To test the temperature of your freezer, place a thermometer between two frozen foods; then, check it after eight hours.

Note: It can take up to 24 hours for a temperature change to take effect.

Want to save even more? According to the US Government, refrigerator settings can go as high as 40°F and freezer settings can go as high as 5°F

Turn Off the Ice Maker

Automatic ice makers increase a refrigerator's energy use by 14-20%. Turn yours off, and go back to ice cube trays.

Turn Off the Anti-Sweat Heater

Fridges manufactured after 1993 often include a switch that lets you choose between an exterior moisture-reducing mode and an energy-saving mode. What's the difference? Set your fridge to the exterior moisture-reducing mode and a heater will kick on to keep condensation off the outside of the fridge; set your fridge to the energy-saving mode and it won't an energy-savings of 5-10%.

Note: If you have a newer refrigerator, it may have automatic moisture control, which eliminates exterior condensation without the use of a heater.

Don't Store Stuff on Top of the Fridge

Placing cereal boxes and other junk on top of your refrigerator could block heat from escaping and cause it to work harder – not good for your electric bill or the lifespan of your fridge.

Check the Seal

Close the door on a dollar bill or a piece of paper. If you're able to pull it out easily, your refrigerator's gasket needs to be adjusted or replaced.

Clean the Condenser Coils

Vacuum the refrigerator coils several times a year to maintain the efficiency of the compressor.

Move Your Fridge Away from All Heat Sources

Avoid placing your refrigerator next to the oven, dishwasher or a heat vent. Also avoid placing it near a window.

Keep Your Fridge Organized

When you're able to find things quickly, you don't have to keep the door open for long.

Tip: Know what's in your freezer without having to look by creating a freezer inventory list.

Don't Store Open Containers

Placing open drinks and food containers in the fridge increases internal moisture levels, and makes the compressor work harder.

Keep Your Fridge Full

It takes less work to maintain the temperature in a full refrigerator. Just make sure your fridge isn't so full that it prevents good air circulation (three-quarters full is a good rule of thumb).

Allow Space for Air Flow

Place the back of your refrigerator at least two inches from the wall to allow heat to move away from the condenser coils. Trapped heat will cause your fridge to run more.