The refrigerator is one of the most important appliances in your home, if not the most important. It keeps all of your perishable foods from spoiling and it allows you to stretch out meals by storing them for leftovers. An efficient refrigerator can also save you quite a bit of money by means of making food last longer. But what do you do if you find your fridge just isn't cooling the way it used to? Don't throw it out yet! There are a few things you can do to help improve your fridge's efficiency.
For starters, take a look under the refrigerator. Dust and pet hair has a habit of collecting in front of, and under, the fridge. Use your vacuum's hose attachments to clean all the debris from under the fridge. Check the coils and vacuum them also. Vacuum the bottom front grill on the fridge. It is usually easily removable, so remove the grill if you can and vacuum behind it as well. Cleaning the coils regularly can make your fridge over 30% more efficient!
With the condenser cleaned, now you can check the interior of the fridge. Check the rear of the compartment area and look to see if anything is blocking the air vents. Sometimes plastic bags or cellophane wrapping can get in the way of the cold air entering the compartment. Also, do some housecleaning and throw out anything that's old or expired.
It can come as a surprise, but a full refrigerator keeps cool better than an empty one. If you haven't been to the grocery store in a while and your fridge is looking a little barren, fill up some containers with water and leave them in the fridge. The containers will retain the cold and you'll also have a ready supply of cold drinking water as a bonus!
While a full fridge keeps the cool better than an empty one, that doesn't mean you should over fill it. A fridge that's too full can lead to poor air circulation and lesser efficiency. As long as the shelves are full, but not overflowing, you should be okay.
Now take a look in the freezer compartment. The same rules apply here. Check the rear of the compartment to see if anything is blocking the vents. Also, have enough items in the freezer, but not overloaded.
Once the fridge is cleaned and the inside inspected and properly arranged, make sure that the fridge is not jammed up against the wall. If it is, pull it away from the wall a few inches to allow air to flow under the unit. Make sure that the fridge does not sit in direct sunlight. If the refrigerator is right next to your stove, it would be wise to move it to a different area in the kitchen. The oven's residual heat could be forcing your fridge to work overtime.
It also helps to check the refrigerator's door seals. The rubber can sometimes become dry and cracked, allowing cold air to escape the compartment. A handy tip is to spread a thin layer of Vaseline all along the door seal. It not only helps it to seal the cold air in better, but it also moisturizes the rubber, thus making the seal last longer.
When opening the fridge to take food out, do it quickly. Don't stand there with the door open while trying to choose between the leftover lasagna and a bowl of cereal. The longer the door is open, the more cold air you're losing and the harder your fridge will have to work to replace it. Labeling helps to identify plastic containers much more quickly and you can also include the date on the label so you know how long it's been in there.
Your refrigerator, while much more efficient than they used to be, is still the most energy using appliance in your home. Refrigerators can be responsible for up to 60% of the entire electricity used in your home each month. Following these simple steps can make your fridge more efficient, allow your food to last longer and save you money on your electric bill. With so many benefits, why wouldn't you do it?
If you are having some trouble with your refrigerator and really can't afford to replace it, click HERE for our article on troubleshooting your fridge's problems. It could be something simple that's causing the problem, and you just may be able to fix it yourself.
Dave Donovan is a freelance copywriter living in Atco, N.J. An electrician for 15 years, an injury forced him to pursue his true passion - writing.