Clean out the fridge to save energy and money!

Refrigerators use an enormous amount of energy in a household. They never get turned off (on purpose) and use more electricity than any other single appliance consuming about a sixth of the electricity used in an average home and up to 60% of the total electricity bill. They are also not upgraded as often, or maintained as well, as other household appliances.

I wouldn’t want people to run out and buy a new refrigerator just because theirs isn’t the latest and greatest. However if you do need an upgrade, looking for the Energy Star label will not only reduce energy usage, but save you money.

I just did the Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator on the Energy Star website and was amazed to see that I could save half of my yearly cost of running the refrigerator by upgrading to a more energy efficient model. Not to mention the tax credits you receive when you file with TurboTax. That certainly makes me think about other ways to just maintain our refrigerator to ensure it is as efficient as can be.


My Refrigerator. Can you tell I have kids? ;)


It’s Change The World Wednesday where we explore what kind of positive impact we can make on the environment if a whole lot of people did the same “green” activity during the same time period. The challenge this week as given over at Change The World Wednesday is to minimize refrigerator’s impact by making sure they operate efficiently.

Here is what I am going to do to get my refrigerator in tip-top efficient shape!

  • Clean it. Keeping your refrigerator clean underneath, inside, the bottom front grill, and the coils can improve efficiency by as much as 30 percent.
  • Check the seal. There is some controversy whether you can test the seal by putting a piece of paper in the closed door and how easily it can be pulled out, however if the door’s seal is damaged or dirty or if the refrigerator itself isn’t level, the doors won’t seal properly.
  • Allow air to circulate. When the refrigerator gets put back into place after being cleaned from all sides, make sure that it is a few inches from the wall or cabinet so that air can circulate around the condenser coils.
  • Check the temperature. The ideal temperature for a refrigerator is between 37 and 40 degrees F and 0 to 5 degrees F for a freezer.
  • Check the contents. A full refrigerator stays cool better than an empty one. If it is too empty, you can keep water-filled containers inside. On the other side, you also don’t want it too full. Buying the right amount of food for your family will ensure food doesn’t go to waste or take up extra space in the refrigerator.
  • Keep it closed. Only opening the refrigerator when necessary and for only the time necessary to get what you need will prevent a lot of lost cold air and energy use. Those darn kids are the worst at this, so this will be a big goal for us this week!

When was the last time you did any cleaning or maintenance on your refrigerator? Who is willing to give it a try this week?


Clean out the fridge to save energy and money! — 8 Comments

  1. Truer words were never spoken. And old food in moldy containers just looks really bad after six months. Not to mention how you can’t use it. At least, when we had to defrost the freezer section, we generally cleaned out the fridge part, too. But, I have an Energy Saver and it DOES make a difference. Thanks for sharing and your research.

  2. I love change the world wednesday! Great tip to put water in the fridge to fill it up-I am going to do this. I do not have much food in my fridge cause I buy a farmer basket every week and only eat fresh foods. :) Great post!

    • Good for you for keeping your refrigerator less full! I was surprised when I first learned that tip as you often think an overcrowded fridge uses more energy (which it does use a lot), but most people don’t think about an emptier one using more energy than it should. You’ll have to check back and see if you can tell the difference after putting some water in there.

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