Refrigerator Basics

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It is easy to take for granted the many conveniences that make our day to day lives easier and more pleasant. Refrigeration is one of those blessings that has become more like a necessity in the modern world, yet few home owners provide them with regular maintenance. With just a small investment of time and effort, you can keep your refrigerator running at it’s best. Here are some key things you can do to extend the life and efficiency of your refrigerator:

Refrigerator for taking care of this appliance
  • Clean the condenser coils regularly: This is a simple but crucial task. Dust buildup on the coils makes it harder for your fridge to release heat, forcing it to work harder and use more energy. Aim to clean the coils at least once a year, or twice a year in dusty environments. You can usually find the condenser coils underneath or behind the fridge. Unplug the fridge first, then vacuum or brush away the dust, pet hair, etc.
  • Maintain proper air circulation: Allow for at least two inches of space between the back and sides of your fridge and the wall. This allows for airflow around the unit. Also, avoid cramming too much food inside the fridge/freezer, as air needs to circulate within as well.
  • Check the temperature settings: Your refrigerator doesn’t need to be colder than necessary. The ideal temperature for the fridge section is around 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit (or 3-4 degrees Celsius) and 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) for the freezer. Keeping it too cold wastes energy; too warm and your food may spoil faster.
  • Check the Seal: The door seal is what keeps cool air in and warm air out. A damaged seal can significantly reduce efficiency. Keep the door gasket clean of dirt and debris and do a dollar bill test once in a while. Simply close the door on a dollar bill halfway up the seal. If you can pull the dollar bill out easily, the seal needs to be replaced.
  • Be smart about how you use it: Avoid opening the door for long periods of time and try not to put hot items inside. Letting hot leftovers cool first reduces the strain on the fridge to maintain temperature.
  • Keep Your Frig (and Freezer) Full: Keeping your refrigerator and freezer sections at least 2/3ds full of food prevents them from working as hard. Having a full complement of cold and frozen items on board helps to maintain the temperature inside, and also may help to protect the food from spoilage in a power outage.
  • Consider room temperature: The hotter the room your fridge is in, the harder it needs to work. Don’t keep your extra frig or freezer out in the garage unless it has AC in the summer. Ideally, you will want to keep the room temperature around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) or cooler.

Note: If your fridge is more than 20 years old, it may be due for a replacement. Even though it may seem to work as well as it always has, older refrigerators can sometimes use many times the amount of electricity as a newer, more energy-efficient model would.

By following these tips, you can improve the efficiency of your fridge, potentially saving money on your energy bills, and extend its lifespan for years to come.

A checklist to help you extend the life and efficiency of your refrigerator

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