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Conserving Your Fridge's Energy
Refrigerators use a lot of energy in a household. How do you use yours most efficiently?
One debate about refrigerator usage and energy conservation has to do with opening and closing the door. Did your parents ever tell you, "shut the fridge door; you'll let all the cold out"? Is this actually true? Let's find out.
Everyone knows that leaving a refrigerator door open for long periods of time will warm up your food and cause your refrigerator to have to work harder in order to keep the food cool. But if you open and close it a bunch of times, when you are loading groceries, for example, or making food, are you actually using more energy by opening and shutting it?
Does the suction created every time you open it actually cause more cold to leave the refrigerator than if you just left it open for a short period of time?
It turns out that this is a testable question.
How to Open a Refrigerator Door Most Efficiently
Portland General Electric creates short videos and articles for consumers to highlight pro-energy-saving tips. The tests are called "Switch Labs," and in one episode, they tested common refrigerator issues including opening and closing the door or leaving it open.
As you can see from the video, even with the suction created by the door opening and closing, it was better to shut the door and reopen it multiple times rather than leave it open.
The Switch Lab also found that keeping the door closed was the best way to save energy with your refrigerator, above and beyond keeping the refrigerator full, which did not seem to have too much effect either way on the overall energy usage.
The Answer: Close the Refrigerator Door!
So whether you are making dinner, unloading groceries, or searching for a snack, be sure to keep that refrigerator door closed. By keeping the door closed you will reduce your electric bill and extend the life of your refrigerator. Keep it closed and keep it cool!
Other Money-Saving Tips for Refrigerators
According to a June 2012 article on Huffington Post, refrigerators are second only to air conditioner units in the amount of energy they use in a year. So it is important to find ways to cut those costs and save energy.
- Consider replacing an older model refrigerator. The new models are more efficient than ever and may end up paying for themselves by reducing the yearly energy costs.
The best type of refrigerator for energy efficiency is the one with a freezer on top. The freezer on the bottom is a very close second and the side-by-side is the least efficient.
- Clean the coils regularly. Your refrigerator's coils are located at the back or bottom of your fridge and dust and debris on the coils reduces the fridge's energy efficiency and its ability to cool.
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You can also save money on unnecessary repairs by keeping these clean and tidy. Once every few months is all your need and you can use a vacuum cleaner to complete the task quickly.
- Don't put hot foods in the refrigerator until they are cool.
Part of the way that your refrigerator works is by using the cool food items already in it to maintain coolness. This is why your food will stay fresh for a period of time even if you have a power outage. If you put a warm dish of food in there, it makes all the food around it warmer and the inside of the refrigerator warmer, increasing the overall energy usage.
Brief History of Refrigeration
Refrigeration of some type has been around for several centuries. People used to harvest ice in the winter and use it in ice houses during the hotter months to help keep food from spoiling.
In the late 1800's Carl von Linden invented a process to make gases into liquids and this led the way for refrigerator units to become a part of everyday culture and use.
Even after Linden's discovery, ice boxes were still in wide use in the early part of the 20th century. Big blocks of ice would be placed inside the block to keep food cool. Ice was delivered every few days to replace the melting block.
While these old boxes that used actual ice may have been more energy efficient from an electricity perspective, they certainly were harder to deal with and less reliable.
Denise Day on August 22, 2020:
My husband and I argue constantly over leaving doors open on the fridge or the chest freezer,
I was bought up to shut the door no excuses.
28 YEARS on he still insists on leaving doors and lids open.HELP
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 24, 2014:
One thing I never think about is to clean the coils of my fridge. Out of sight, out of mind kinda thing. At least I'm doing the open and close properly!
Judy Specht from California on June 24, 2014:
Guilt. Last night when I couldn't sleep I used the refrigerator as a night light. During the day I am very efficient.
The Examiner-1 on June 23, 2014:
When the weather was cold I removed all of the food for each meal at once. Now that the weather is warm/hot I go into the fridge twice instead of all at once.
When I bring home groceries I prepare them for the freezer and fridge. Then I open one door at a time and pack the groceries in as fast as possible to close the door. I gave this a thumbs up and shared it.