Your Refrigerator is Running, Perhaps Inefficiently

Your refrigerator is one of the most indispensable appliances in your home. But because it’s generally low-maintenance (not to mention a pain in the neck to move), it’s an easy appliance to take for granted. That’s all the more reason to make basic refrigerator maintenance part of your seasonal housekeeping routine.

Cleaning and Inspection

How often do you check behind or beneath your refrigerator? If it’s been a while, you might find a thick layer of dust covering the refrigerator coils, fins and vents. If there’s pet hair in your home, it could be even worse. This blanket of dust works to trap heat, forcing your fridge to work harder and harder to keep things cool. Make a point of cleaning these areas about every three months -- a vacuum cleaner wand attachment will do the trick.

When performing this simple maintenance, take a few minutes to carefully inspect the seals around your refrigerator and freezer doors. Damage or age can create gaps that may leak cooled air, and this can have a huge impact on your monthly energy bills. Replacing these seals can be a tricky DIY job, so if you aren’t sure you’re up to the task, consider calling a professional.

Planning Ahead

If you’re moving, remodeling, building a new home or are just in the market for a new refrigerator, there are other energy efficiency considerations at play. First and foremost, it pays to check the list of ENERGY STAR-certified models anytime you’re considering a new refrigerator purchase. You’ll find detailed energy data for all of the most efficient models, and the list is updated annually.

If you consume a lot of ice and chilled water, you may also want to spring for a model with an in-door dispenser. This is not just a convenience, it’s a major energy efficiency feature -- the less you need to open the door, the less energy it takes to keep everything cold.

It’s not all about which fridge you buy -- it’s also about where you put it. Refrigerators need to expel heat, and they can do this more easily in cool areas. So if you park your fridge right next to your oven, you’re just asking for high energy bills. Find a spot away from exterior walls, windows and heat-generating appliances, and leave a little breathing room on all sides to help the hot air escape.

Be Smart and Save

A simple refrigerator maintenance routine and a little careful planning can help you save money month after month. But opportunities for improved energy efficiency are hiding all around your home, from your appliances right down to your electrical infrastructure. If you’re ready to get serious about saving energy and money, consider scheduling an energy audit with an experienced local electrician to get a better understanding of where your energy dollars are going and how you can effectively cut back.

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