11 Tips to Green your Refrigerator

Refrigerators use more electricity than any other kitchen appliance.  Although, in the past several decades, advances in technology have cut refrigerator energy use by more than 60 percent. 

The following in an excerpt from the book “The Ultimate Guide to Greening your Home”.

By following the tips below, you can begin to reduce your energy consumption and the effects your refrigerator has on the environment.

✔ Choose an EnergyStar rated refrigerator – EnergyStar qualified refrigerators are required to use 20% less energy than models not labeled with the EnergyStar logo. By choosing an EnergyStar model, you could cut your energy bills by $165 over the lifetime of your refrigerator.

If you are still operating a refrigerator which was purchased in the 1980s, replacing it with an EnergyStar rated model could save you over $100 a year on your electricity consumption. Replacing a refrigerator bought in the 1970s could save you nearly $200 every year.

✔ Choose your refrigerator temperature with care - Adjusting the factory set temperature for your refrigerator and freezer can help save money. If you reduce the temperature of your refrigerator by F 10, most models will use 25% less energy.

An optimal temperature for your refrigerator is around F 39 (3.7C) and F 5 (-15C) for your freezer. Most newer models have temperature controls that display in degrees, but if yours does not, you can either buy a refrigerator thermometer or place a traditional thermometer in a glass of liquid and leave for several hours.

✔ Keep your refrigerator more full than empty - By keeping your refrigerator mostly full, you will reduce the amount of electricity needed to keep your refrigerator at a stable temperature.  However, be sure not to overstock your refrigerator.  To operate efficiently, there must be sufficient air for proper circulation.

 ✔ Properly maintain your refrigerator – By properly maintaining your refrigerator, you will ensure that it is operating at maximum efficiency.  To properly maintain your refrigerator, be sure to keep the condenser coils, drain hole, drip pan, gaskets and water filter clean. Also check to make sure your refrigerator is level.

✔ Keep the top of the refrigeration free of clutter - Having the top of the refrigerator free of clutter will help insure that the back of the unit is receiving proper amounts of air circulation.

 ✔ Don’t leave unused refrigerators plugged in – If you buy a new refrigerator, be sure to unplug the one you are replacing. The old refrigerator will cost $50–150 per year in electricity to keep running.

✔ Defrost your freezer in a timely manner - If your freezer does not automatically defrost, you may need to do this manually. When there is too much frost in the freezer, the amount of air in circulation is reduced and this makes it more difficult to maintain a consistent temperature.  As a rule, when the frost level in the freezer is thicker than the diameter of a pencil, it is time to defrost.

✔ Check the yellow EnergyGuide label – The EnergyGuide label provides you with a wealth of information about the energy consumption of the refrigerator.  You can use this information to compare models and calculate the yearly operating expenses.

✔ Avoid buying a refrigerator with a side-by-side design – Refrigerators with the freezer on either the bottom or top are the most efficient. Bottom freezer models use approximately 16 percent less energy than side-by-side models and top freezer models use about 13 percent less than side-by-side.

✔ Purchase an appropriately sized refrigerator – Generally, the larger the refrigerator, the greater the energy consumption. The most energy-efficient models are typically 16–20 cubic feet.

✔ Consider skipping the ice-maker and dispenser – Automatic ice-makers and through-the-door dispensers increase energy use by 15–20%. They also raise the purchase price by $75–250.

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