Conservation energy efficiency for refrigerator

Published on September 12th, 2014 | by Peter Young


How Your Fridge And Freezer Work


Knowing how your fridge and freezer work is a great place to start when it comes to making them more energy efficient. After all, fridges and freezers account for roughly 6% of the average monthly electric bill. So to help you get a head start on saving both money and energy, we’ve come up with the following guide to help you understand how your fridge and freezer work.

How your fridge and freezer work

Fortunately, both your fridge and freezer are cooled using the same style of system, so if you understand how one works, you’ll understand the other. To get started, take a look at the following graphic which will walk you through the basic process of the system:


Essentially, your fridge and freezer work by continually turning a refrigerant from a liquid to a gas, and then condensing that gas back into a liquid. The refrigerant starts in your fridge/freezer as a hot gas and is pushed from the compressor through a series of condenser coils where it is cooled and turned back into a liquid. That liquid is then pumped through a capillary which removes any moisture or contaminants before being sent to your fridge/freezers evaporator coils. Once it reaches your fridge/freezer’s evaporator coils it expands and turns itself back into a gas, thus drawing heat away from the system and cooling the items in your fridge. The gas is then returned to your compressor where the whole process starts again. Simple, yeah? Check out the video below to get a better idea of how this system works.

Now that you have a better understanding of how your fridge and freezer work, let’s look at three easy things you can do to ensure that’s it’s running efficiently:

  • Clean your fridge’s condenser coils – Over time lint, dust and debris from your kitchen can build up on the fridge’s condenser coils, by taking a stiff (with non-metallic bristles…nylon for instance) brush and removing the debris it will help your system to run more efficiently.
  • Set the temperature in your fridge/freezer to the appropriate level – Be careful not to under or overcool the items in your fridge or freezer. Over cooling will cause the fridge/freezer to work harder than it should and undercooling will cause food to spoil quicker than it should. Remember your fridge should be set between 36-42 degrees fahrenheit, and the freezer 4-5 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Be sure your fridge/freezer is at least 2/3rd full – The items in your fridge/freezer will act like thermal batteries and actually help to reduce the fridge/freezer’s workload.

Other random fridge info for efficiency

There are no hard fast rules on this, but in general, the most efficient orientation of a fridge, if you’re shopping for a new one, is to have the freezer compartment located above the refrigerator. The least efficient setup is to have the fridge on one side and the freezer on the other.

If you’re looking for more ways to green your home and make it more energy efficient, check out our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of I heart Gum, Techni Ice,

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About the Author

graduated from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) with a degree in journalism and has made sustainability and eco-conscious living mainstays of both his professional and personal life. It was during his time at PLU that he began his journey with sustainability and it's what has led him to writing for Green Living Ideas. He currently resides in Honolulu and works for Pono Home, an energy efficiency company focused on reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthier, greener lifestyle.

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