Want To Conserve Energy and Save Money; Start With Your Refrigerator
More than 20% of our total energy consumption in the U.S. is residential and an average household spends close to $2,200 each year to pay their energy bill. If you want to conserve energy and save money your refrigerator is a great place to start.
In most homes the refrigerator is the second-largest user of electricity (13.7%), right after the air conditioner (14.1%). With most appliances the trick to saving energy and dollars is by using them less, unfortunately you can use that advice with your fridge. The main opportunity to save money and conserve energy with your fridge and freezer is to use a more efficient model. New fridges aren’t just a little more efficient, they’re incredibly more efficient. A 1986-era 18 c.f. fridge uses 1400 kWh a year, while a modern energy-efficient model uses only 350 kWh; this is a whopping 75% reduction. When the ice-maker is turned on then energy usage could be as much as double.
The EnergyGuide label on new refrigerators tells you how much electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh) a particular model uses in one year. The smaller the number, the less energy the refrigerator uses and the less it will cost you to operate. In addition to the EnergyGuide label, you should be looking for the Energy Star label. A new refrigerator with an Energy Star label uses at least 15% less energy than non-qualified models.
If you are concerned about global warming, drought, and forest fires this is a place to start. When you apply these practices nationally your impact becomes huge…This is what Steve Jobs call “making a dent”.
Refrigerator – Freezer: Tips To Conserve Energy
- The location of the fridge is an important consideration if your goal is to conserve energy. Your fridge will use much less energy if you keep it away from heat and place it where the heat it generates can easily dissipate. Position your fridge out of direct sunlight, and away from the oven and heat registers. Help the fridge get rid of the heat it generates by placing it along an external wall.
- Don’t let the door stand open while selections are made (seems simple right).
- Don’t set the refrigerator or freezer temperature too cold. The recommended temperatures are 35° to 38°F for the fresh food compartment and 0° F for the freezer compartment for long-term storage.
- Fridges set 10 degrees lower than needed (or freezers set 5 degrees lower than needed) can increase energy use by as much as 20 to 25%.
- Check the refrigerator temperature by placing an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator; take your first reading after 24 hours. Check the freezer temperature by placing a thermometer between frozen packages; take your first reading after 24 hours.
- Thaw frozen foods in the fridge rather than on the counter.
- Don’t put hot foods directly in the fridge. The USDA recommendation is to refrigerate foods within two hours of preparation (or one hour if the room temp is above 90°).
- Refrigerator door seals should be airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, or the seal may need replacing.
- Cover liquids and wrap foods that you store in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
- Regularly defrost manual-defrost freezers and refrigerators; the frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Frost build-up should not exceed one-quarter of an inch.
- Select a refrigerator that is the right size for your household. Top freezer models are more energy efficient than side-by-side models. If you select features like icemakers and water dispensers you will use more energy, by quite a bit.
- Many fridges have small heaters that keep moisture from forming on the cabinet. This increases energy consumption by 5 to 10%. Most models that have this feature have a switch that lets you turn it off.