There are a few appliances in your home that make up the majority of your electric bill costs. Among them are your air conditioner/heater, your hot water heater, your washer and dryer, your lighting and then finally — your refrigerator.
But much like most other appliances and devices in your home, your fridge can be managed to the point where you can lower its monthly energy consumption. Here are the facts you need to know about how to save electricity using your refrigerator.
How Much Electricity Does a Refrigerator Use During the Year?
The answer to that question is, well, it depends. If you have an older model (like many of you still do) those refrigerators use about 1400 kWH per year. However, a modern energy efficient model uses a mere 350 kWH per year (four times less).
It’s understandable that many homes still have older models. Much like older washers and dryers, classic refrigerators refuse to die. They seem to last forever so the common question is, why buy a new one if the old one is still working?
The bottom line is, replacing your older model with a newer energy-efficient one could save you an average of $158 per year on your electric bill. Considering that a newer model can cost between $400 and $1000, it may be a few years before your investment pays off. But considering how long refrigerators last, a newer model will definitely put money back in your pocket in the future.
What is an Energy Efficient Refrigerator?
Top-freezer refrigerators that have earned the Energy Star badge use less energy than a typical 60-watt light bulb. But the question is, what makes them so efficient?
According to the Energy Star website, it states that “Thanks to recent improvements in insulation and compressors, today’s refrigerators use much less energy than older models.”
If you’re in the market for purchasing a new energy efficient fridge, the most important thing is to buy one that is appropriately sized. Don’t purchase one larger than necessary because typically the larger the refrigerator, the more energy it consumes. Breaking down the numbers, the most energy efficient fridge models are 16-20 cubic feet.
And as an added bonus, energy efficient appliances are tax deductible.
What Does the Energy Saver Switch on Your Refrigerator Do?
According to the GE Appliances website, the energy saver switch “turns off anti-sweat heaters that are around the freezer section walls, which are designed to prevent moisture from forming on your cabinet exterior and between the doors.”
If you have an older model refrigerator, check to see if this switch is on your model since they were introduced back in 1978. And if you do have the switch and leave it on for an entire year, it will save you approximately 64 watts of energy. Not a huge amount which is yet another reason to purchase a newer energy efficient model.
How Do You Make Your Refrigerator Even More Energy Efficient?
- Put it in chill mode. Truth be told, the colder you set your fridge, the more energy it uses. To make it more energy efficient, set it to 40 degrees F while setting the freezer to 0 degrees.
- Clean those coils. Have you EVER pulled your fridge away from the wall? We aren’t talking about cleaning beneath it (although you should do that from time-to-time). We’re talking about cleaning the coils in the back. That’s because the most dust buildup on the coils, the harder the fridge has to work.
- Stock up at the grocery store. The more you have in your fridge and freezer, the less space available. The less space available to cool, the quicker the fridge cools down once you shut the door.
- Don’t put in hot food. Did you know that placing hot food in the fridge actually makes it work harder? Consider cooling down your food for a couple of hours before refrigerating it. But don’t leave it out too long and risk foodborne illness.
- Think, think and think again before opening. Opening the fridge and staring inside for long periods warms up the interior. And once you close the door, the fridge has to work hard to cool itself back down to the proper temperature.
- Even Beyonce says that you should “put a lid on it”. Place a lid on your liquids and containers so that your fridge won’t have to cool every exposed surface.