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Cool tips to keep your refrigerator running efficiently

Tips to keep your refrigerator running smoothly
BC Hydro Outreach community rep Renee Monty knows a thing or two about fridges. She offers six tips to cutting your fridge's electricity use.

Cut your fridge's energy use — it has an enormous appetite

Posted by Renee Monty

As the sun starts to shine, spring cleaning and repairs begin in many homes around the province. However, one household item that often goes without regular maintenance is your refrigerator.

Appliances can account for up to 20 per cent of your household's annual electricity costs, and refrigerators use nearly half of this amount. Making sure your refrigerator is running efficiently will save you energy and money.

An efficient fridge saves you money

To make sure your refrigerator is running efficiently, follow these tips:

  • Make sure the temperature inside your refrigerator is between 2°C and 3°C (35°F to 38°F) and the temperature in your freezer is set between -16° and -18°C (3.2°F to 0°F). If your refrigerator temperature is too cold, it may be using as much as 25 per cent more electricity than it needs to.
  • Make sure the door seal and gaskets on your refrigerator are properly maintained. If your fridge or freezer door is not sealing properly, it's leaking air and wasting energy. To test if the door seals are working, open each door and place a piece of paper on the seal, then shut the door. If the paper falls to the ground, you need to replace the seal.
  • If your refrigerator is less than half full, fill an empty milk jug with water and place it inside your fridge to help keep it cool, limiting how often it has to cycle on. Conversely, if your fridge is too full, you are impeding proper air flow and your fridge will constantly maintain a cooler temperature.
  • Make sure there is enough space behind your fridge to allow for air flow and proper heat dispersal.
  • Clean the dust from the back or bottom coils of your refrigerator twice a year using a vacuum.
  • If you have a separate chest or upright freezer, defrost it on a regular basis to remove frost buildup and help ensure air flow.

Save as much as $85 a year by unplugging your second fridge

There are few times when we unplug our refrigerators. But many of us do have the opportunity to permanently unplug our second fridge and save up to $85 dollars a year. Whether sitting in a garage or basement, most second fridges aren't used to capacity more than a few times a year.

Consider whether you really need a second fridge, especially given how much it costs you.

If you have a vacation home that you're away from for an extended period of time, clean out the fridge, leave the door open and unplug it to save money.

If you're ready to get rid of a secondary fridge permanently, look into recycling options for large appliances in your area.

Buying a new fridge? Look for the ENERGY STAR® label

If you're buying a new refrigerator, look for ENERGY STAR-certified models and consider the EnerGuide rating. 

Look for an efficient design with the freezer compartment below or above the fridge. Refrigerators with the freezer on the top or bottom can save between 10 and 15 per cent of the energy used by a side-by-side model.

Renee Monty is a community team representative with BC Hydro who educates customers on Vancouver Island about ways to save energy and money.