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Refrigerators and freezers

Tips for efficient refrigeration

Unlike other large appliances in the home like a stove or dryer, refrigerators and freezers operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That's why it's important to make sure they're in tip-top shape and working efficiently to help your bill stay chill.

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Best temperature for your fridge and freezer

Make sure the temperature inside your fridge is between 2°C and 3°C and the temperature in your freezer is set between -15° and -18°C. If set to the appropriate temperature range, your fridge and freezer will keep your food cold without over-chilling or causing freezer burn.

Get a fridge thermometer

Not sure what temperature your fridge is set at? Use a fridge thermometer to take the guesswork out of this important appliance. If your fridge doesn't have a built-in temperature indicator, you can purchase a fridge thermometer from most kitchen or home improvement stores.

Once placed, allow 15 minutes for the thermometer to adjust. If the temperature is outside of the recommended range, adjust the temperature dial and recheck the next day.

Check your fridge door seal

Gaskets on your fridge or freezer deteriorate over time. To ensure your fridge is operating efficiently, you'll need to check that it seals up tight with the door closed. If it isn't sealed tight, cold air will escape, and the fridge will need to work harder to stay cool.

Watch the video below for an easy way to check the condition of your fridge's seal – also known as the gasket – using a piece of paper.

Dave demonstrates how to check and manage the efficiency of your refrigerator.

Place a piece of paper between the door and the refrigerator as you close it. If you can move the paper freely in the door, the fridge is not sealed tightly.

You can also place a flashlight inside the fridge or freezer and turn it on, then close the door. If you can see light around the door gasket, it’s not sealing properly.

First, you'll need to buy a replacement seal. Identify the make and model number of your refrigerator and measure the size of the door, then check out local hardware retailers, appliance retailers, and the manufacturer’s website to find suitable replacement parts.

To replace the seal:

  1. The seal is held in place on the door with screws. Locate and loosen the screws, but don’t remove them from the fridge or freezer door.
  2. You should be able to slide out the door seal after you've loosened all the screws.
  3. Gently slide the new seal in place along the fridge or freezer door and then tighten the screws.
  4. To prevent the new seal from sticking, apply baby powder around the hinge corners of the door seal and where the seal slides to prevent sticking.
  5. Check the new seal for gaps using a sheet of paper or flashlight. If you find some gaps, you can fix them with some weatherstripping. You can also use a hair dryer to soften and stretch the seal.

Freezer efficiency tips

Here are a few ways to keep your freezer working efficiently:

  • Keep your freezer set to -15°C to -18°C.
  • If it's mostly empty, keep some plastic containers full of frozen water inside to help it stay cold.
  • Remove ice buildup on the coils. Buildup makes the compressor run longer to keep cold. Removing buildup saves an average of 10% of a freezer’s energy, which amounts to up to 60 kWh/yr. Be sure to unplug the unit before carefully cleaning the coils.

Tips for buying a new fridge or freezer

Ready for an upgrade? Here are a few things to look for when buying a new fridge or freezer.

Freezers

When looking at fridge-freezer combos, top- or bottom-mounted freezers are up to 20% more efficient than side-mount freezer units.

Or you can opt for a chest-style freezer. They use up to 51% less energy than upright freezers because they lose less cold air when opened. Additionally, if you have a power outage, chest freezers may keep food frozen for two to three days, while uprights might only last one day. Keep in mind, adding an additional chest freezer will increase your overall electricity use.

Refrigerators

The typical lifespan of a fridge is about 10 to 15 years. When it's time to replace yours, keep in mind that refrigerators with ice and water dispensers built into the door use more energy than those without.

4 questions to ask before buying a large appliance

  1. Is it ENERGY STAR® rated? ENERGY STAR appliances are certified to be the most energy-efficient appliances you can buy.
  2. Is it made by a reputable brand? Do plenty of research and read reviews to find out which brands offer the best reliability and features. Find out about warranties and customer service based on reviews from people who've already experienced them.
  3. Is it the right size for the job it needs to do? It’s easy to get excited about a huge, double-door refrigerator. But what size do you actually need? Remember, if you buy something too big, you'll be paying bigger electricity bills, too.
  4. Is it simple to use? Many appliances come with an array of features and functions. Some of them save energy. But many of them just use more energy and offer very little utility. Appliances are designed to do very simple jobs like cleaning, heating, or cooling. So make sure you buy one that's equally simple to operate.
Fridge in the kitchen

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