Virtually every modern appliance we use runs on electricity, but the biggest consumer is the refrigerator. Fridges and freezers are found in almost every single home in the country, and they collectively use over £1.2 billion worth of electricity each year.
Refrigerators require so much energy because they’re always switched on. This is unavoidable, but there are several things you can do to reduce the energy consumption of your fridge-freezer:
1. Try to keep it as full as possible, without overcrowding. Your fridge or freezer will operate more efficiently the more it has inside it, because keeping air cold uses more energy than refrigerating food.
2. When putting food inside your fridge or freezer, allow it to cool down naturally first. The less work your fridge-freezer has to do, the less energy it will use.
3. Don’t leave the door open when taking food out. The longer the door is open, the more cold air escapes, and the more energy is needed to reduce the temperature again once the door is closed.
4. Make sure you don’t have the temperature turned down too low. Refrigerators shouldn’t be set any lower than 5ºC, while freezers should be -18ºC.
5. If your freezer requires manual defrosting, then make sure you defrost it regularly. The more ice your freezer has in it, the more energy it uses. If the ice around the inside is more than 1cm thick, you need to defrost it.
6. If you are thawing food from the freezer, put it inside the fridge. This helps keep the fridge cool without using energy to do it.
7. Make sure your fridge-freezer has plenty of room around it for air to circulate, and keep it away from any external sources of heat, including direct sunlight.
8. Check the condenser coils for dust – this reduces their efficiency, so if they are dusty, turn the fridge-freezer off and give them a quick clean.
9. Make sure that the seals on the door are working properly. If you have condensation on the outside of your fridge-freezer, that’s a sure sign that you need to get the seals replaced.
10. If you are looking to buy a new fridge or freezer, make sure you get one that is marked with the Energy Star – the global indicator of energy efficiency.
Update: 11. Find out when it’s time to replace your fridge using Sust-it’s really easy slider system (ed).
Follow these tips, and not only will you reduce your carbon footprint, you’ll reduce your energy bill too.
Updated on 29 October 2012, figures changed to celsius in point 4.