Conservation

Published on September 25th, 2014 | by Scott Cooney

7 Energy Efficiency Tips For Your Fridge And Freezer

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Refrigerators and freezers represent one of the best opportunities in your home to achieve both energy and money savings. After all, your fridge and freezer account for roughly 16% of your monthly electric bill. So to help you start saving energy and money around your home we’ve come up with the following energy efficiency tips for your fridge and freezer: By adopting these tips you could save upwards of $104 per year!

7 Energy efficiency tips for your fridge and freezer

1. Practice the 2/3rds full rule. Your fridge and freezer will use a lot of energy to replace all the cold air that flows out every time someone opens the door. By keeping the fridge and freezer at least 2/3 full, only 1/3 or less of that air can leak out. This is especially important if you and your family frequently open the doors. Check out the image below to get a visual sense for what the 2/3rds rule looks like in practice:

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2. Clean your condenser coils 2-3 times per year. The condenser coils, which keep your fridge air cool, are usually either below or behind the fridge. If they’ve got a bunch of dust and other gunk built up on them, they’ll impede airflow around the appliance, and force it to work harder than it has to. Estimates are that you can save 15% of your electricity that the fridge uses if you keep the condenser coils clean. According to the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), the average monthly electric bill is $207 in Hawaii. So, if 16% ($35.00 per month) of your bill can be accredited to your fridge/freezer, and if by cleaning your condenser coils you can make it 15% more efficient, that can mean a savings of up to $5.25 per month or $62 per year!

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Cleaning your condenser coils is a relatively easy process. You’ll need a long wire brush or something similar, a vacuum, a dust mask and some safety goggles. To learn how and see just how easy it is, check out this article from The Inspired Economist on how to save money to save the planet.

3. Make sure there’s airflow around your fridge. If you store a bunch of stuff on the top and sides of your fridge, it’ll keep your fridge working harder to get rid of the hot air that is created by the cooling process. So keep it clearer, and it’ll work more easily and use less electricity.

4. Keep an eye on frost build up. If the frost building up in your freezer is 1/4” or thicker, it’s time to thaw and get rid of that frost–it’s making your appliance work harder than it needs to. Don’t ask me how this works. The explanation would require a PhD in quantum physics, but lacking that, all you really need to know is that nerdy engineers have done the calculations, and 1/4” thick frost seems to be the tipping point at which you should defrost.

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5. Don’t store uncovered liquids in your fridge. Doing so will add moisture to the interior of your fridge, which in turn will make your compressor work harder. Not only that, it could cause additional frost to build up, which will also make your compressor work harder, thus causing your fridge to use more energy and cost you more money. So be sure that all liquids, and food for that matter, are covered with a lid before placing it in your fridge.

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6. Peek, grab and close. The door being opened and closed on your fridge can cause your unit to use an extra 50-120kWh per year! So to help you save nearly 7% of your fridges total energy usage, be sure to open and close your door quickly. To see how much money you could save simply multiply your hourly kWh rate by the number of kWh outlined above, if you live in Hawaii it could save you anywhere from $17.19-$41.26 per year.

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7. Strongly reconsider whether you need a second fridge. In most cases, we’ve found that having two full sized fridges in your home is a bit excessive. We recommend that you consider switching to a mini-fridge or better yet, just rid of the second fridge all together. After all, even mini fridges can use upwards of 500 kWh of energy per year and cost you hundreds. According to Hawaiian Electric the average second fridge uses 2,000kWh per year! Multiply that by the hourly rate and that second fridge could be costing you as much as $688 per year.

By implementing these tips not only will you save money on your monthly electric bill, you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint and help to make the world a greener place! If you’re looking for more ways to save money around your home, check out some of our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

The following photos are courtesy of the Flickr Creative Commons (Lego fridge, full/empty fridge, frost build up, covered liquidspeeking into fridge and ice box) and Pono Home.

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About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on



  • Adell

    Good tips! thank you! I didn’t know the fact about empty fridge! I have just bought a new fridge (http://electrical-components.com/refrigerator/siemens) and it has “no-frost” function. I can say that after some observations I realized that it consumes less power!

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