Easy Steps to an Energy-Efficient Fridge

Lower the cost of running your fridge with these easy, energy-efficient tips.
By by Lauren DiPilla

To cut utility costs at home, start with your fridge. Appliances account for about 20 percent of your household’s energy consumption, and refrigerators lead the pack. Whether yours is a new energy-efficient model or 20 years old, you can reduce the cost of running your fridge simply by the way you use it. Follow these guidelines to start saving now.

  • Keep it chill. Regulate the temperature, but don’t keep it too low. The colder the setting, the more energy your fridge uses. For maximum energy efficiency and food safety, set it to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and the freezer to 0 degrees.
  • Maintain the rear. Dust buildup on the coils makes your fridge work harder. Be sure to vacuum or dust them regularly.
  • Stock up. The fuller your fridge (and freezer), the less space there is to cool and the quicker the fridge chills back down once the door is closed.
  • Location counts. Place your fridge away from your oven, stove top, radiator or other heat sources, and make sure there are a few inches of space around it. The unit can nestle, but it shouldn't abut walls, counters or other appliances.
  • Cool down hot food. Placing hot dishes into the fridge taxes the appliance. Let them cool down first for up to 2 hours―but no longer (or you’ll risk bacteria growth).
  • Think before opening. Don’t open the refrigerator door without knowing exactly what you want. The more time you spend staring indecisively, the warmer the interior of the fridge becomes. 
  • Put a lid on it. Cover liquids and containers with plastic wrap or a top so the fridge doesn’t have to chill every exposed surface.