Take a peek at refrigerator-freezer efficiency

Refrigerators and freezers are a mainstay of many kitchens, but these appliances are also among the home’s largest consumers of energy. Follow these tips to reduce the amount of energy they consume each year.

Energy-efficient best practices

  • Keep freezers and refrigerators full. This will better contain the cold inside.
  • Keep contents organized and labeled. Doing so reduces the time the appliance doors need to be open, thus decreasing the amount of cold air that escapes.
  • Do not store items on top of a refrigerator or freezer. These items will trap warm air, allowing it instead to be absorbed by the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Keep them away from dishwashers or oven ranges. Refrigerators located beside them absorb the heat they produce and force the refrigerator to work harder to compensate for it.
  • Wait for hot liquids and foods to cool before placing them inside. Additionally, foods should be tightly sealed. Excess moisture and heat will force the compressor to work harder.
  • Reduce the use of or even avoid using the automated ice cube maker or water dispensing features of the refrigerator. Ice cube trays and a pitcher of refrigerated water are an energy-efficient alternative.
  • Avoid using more than one refrigerator. If another is needed, keep it in a location free of excessive heat. Places such as garages or laundry rooms tend to be warmer, forcing the refrigerator to work harder.


  • Clean condenser coils on the back of the refrigerator. Dirt and dust will insulate the coils, preventing them from bringing cold air in as efficiently.
  • Test door seals and latches by closing a dollar bill in the door. If it can be removed easily, maintenance to the seals or latches is likely needed.
  • Regularly defrost the freezer to prevent ice buildup from making it run harder. The amount of frost collected should not exceed one-quarter inch.

Purchasing a new model

  • Consider models with the freezer on top rather than those that are side-by-side. Since cold air sinks naturally, it permeates out of the freezer traveling into the refrigerator portion of the unit.
  • If a refrigerator is more than 10 years old, consider a newer, more energy-efficient model. Those made in the past few years can use as much as 40 percent less energy.
  • Ensure the model purchased is the right size for the job. Those too large are likely not worth the cost to run.
  • If a separate freezer is needed for long-term storage, consider a chest freezer. Compared to other varieties, they keep more cold air in once opened.

Some information provided by Energy Savers.