While I am sure that you were already well aware that November 15 is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day (how could anyone not know this?), there are a number of steps that you can take to save money while cleaning out your fridge — and really, it probably is about time that you did clean out your fridge. And before you say that it’s a ridiculous day, don’t forget that Thanksgiving is just around the corner and you are going to need all the extra room you can find in your refrigerator to store all those leftovers. So while you sort through all that has accumulated inside the cool walls of your unit, take the time to also contemplate these things which can help you save money with your refrigerator in the future:
Buy an Energy Star Model
Energy Star is recommended label attached to appliances that have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and The Department of Energy. Energy Star models are designed to be efficient, environmentally friendly, and cost effective. These refrigerator brands are also guaranteed to use at least 20% less energy than a non-Energy Star brand. This means that you could be saving from $80 to $100 a year on your energy bill. The next time you’re considering buying a new refrigerator, look for the Energy Star label.
Make Sure the Seal is Tight
The doors to your refrigerator should be tightly sealed at all times. This doesn’t mean a seal that fits well along most of the door, but is slightly loose in some places. If you can fit a dollar bill through the refrigerator door while it’s closed, then you need to replace your seal. A loose seal means the refrigerator has to work harder to keep everything cool, therefore using more energy and costing you more money.
Don’t Store Hot Food
It’s convenient to package food for the fridge immediately after you make it, right? After all, you’re already in the kitchen, so why not prepare the leftovers and stick it in the refrigerator for later. Except, sticking hot food in the fridge is a bad idea. It makes the refrigerator work overtime to cool down the food, which again causes more energy to be used. So, before you pack away food into the refrigerator, let it cool down on the stovetop or counter first.
Don’t Place Near Direct Heat
If you have a small kitchen, you might not have many great locations for your refrigerator. Regardless of your kitchen size, you should try to place your refrigerator in a good space. This means not placing it next to an oven or in direct sunlight. Either of these locations will cause the refrigerator to work harder to keep itself cool, which will wear out its compressor.
Don’t Place in an Unheated Space
While placing your refrigerator in direct sunlight or near an oven is a bad idea, placing it in an unheated place such as a garage or back porch is also a bad idea. You don’t want to temperature to drop below 60° since the fridge will once again work harder to keep itself at a level temperature. Additionally, as with storing near direct heat, the compressor may stop working. So where should you store your refrigerator? Preferably in the shaded area of a room that has a moderate temperature.
Don’t Store Fruit Together
The way you store the food in your fridge can also either save or lose you money. For instance, some food will go bad more quickly depending on how you store it. Did you know that if you store fruit in the same drawer or area, it has a tendency to rot faster? Fruit that happens to be stored together ripens faster than if it’s stored alone. If you don’t eat fruit that quickly, you’re going to end up with a lot of bad fruit. Store fruit in different compartments or in containers to save yourself a little money.
One of the best things you can do for your refrigerator is to defrost it regularly. The more frost you have in your fridge and freezer, the more energy the fridge uses. If you have more than a quarter-inch of frost on your fridge, it’s time to defrost.
Don’t Buy Extra Features
Many retailers are trying to sell extra features on refrigerators. There are retailers claiming that their new refrigerator models have special air fresheners to keep food fresh or special temperature gauges to choose and moderate the temperature inside the fridge or freezer. Or they’ll have a special filter system for ice or water. Almost all of these features are useless and an attempt on the retailer’s part to get you to pay more money for something you don’t actually need.
Clean the Unit
Does your refrigerator get incredibly dirty after a few months? If the shelves and drawers inside your fridge are always dirty, then think about what it looks like underneath your fridge. You should clean your refrigerator at least twice a year. Dust, hair, food, and other debris are easily caught up in the coils and motor, potentially causing the unit to run slowly. You should unplug the fridge and clean the condenser coils, motor, and evaporator pan frequently in order to ensure that the refrigerator is running efficiently.
The more food you have in the refrigerator, the more the unit works to cool down everything. Additionally, the more items crowded into your fridge means less air circulation. In order to save energy and cause the best air circulation, don’t overcrowd your fridge with food.
(Photo courtesy of xJason.Rogersx)