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The Handiest Household Appliance Tips: Refrigerators

Updated on December 30, 2009

Buying A Fridge

Energy efficiency is a big issue with refrigerators since; they are the most expensive appliances to run in a home. New models are twice as efficient as those made even 15 years ago. The most efficient size for the average home is between 16 and 20 cubic feet (around 600 litres). Choosing a fridge with an Ice maker will increase the energy requirements by as much as 20%. A fridge with a top (or bottom) freezer is more efficient than a fridge/freezer side to side model. Manual defrost models are significantly more energy-efficient but do require regular defrosting. They should be defrosted whenever the ice gets thicker than 1/4" or 7mm.

All refrigerator manufacturers are required to post EnergyGuide ratings on their products, to help you select the best one for your needs.

Fridge Care

Keep your fridge temperature set at 37 F to 40 F (3 C to 5 C), and the freezer compartment at 5 F (-15 C). Check that your refrigerator door seals tightly. If not, wipe the entire seal clean with warm soapy water and dry thoroughly. Over time magnetic door seals will weaken, and can be replaced.

Clean the inside of the fridge with warm water, baking soda and a mild detergent. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Place an open box of baking soda in the back of the fridge to absorb odours Line your vegetable and fruit trays with paper towel or perforated rubber mats. Keep all food well covered and wait until warm foods have cooled before placing them inside the fridge or freezer. Vacuum the dust off of the condenser coils at the back and/or the front of your fridge on a regular basis.

To winterize your fridge at a seasonal home; clear out your food, wash and dry the fridge and freezer areas thoroughly, unplug and leave the door slightly ajar until next season.

Buying a Freezer

There are a number of options when buying a freezer, each with pros and cons to consider. Top loading, chest freezers run more efficiently than the upright models, but are usually more difficult to keep organized. Vinyl coated metal racks can be purchased to help you store your frozen foods. Manual defrosting units use 40% less energy, than their automatic counterparts; but need to be defrosted thoroughly at least once a year (whenever the ice is more than 1/4" or 7mm thick). All new freezers must display an EnergyGuide label for you to compare their efficiency ratings.

Freezer Care

Keep your freezer in a cool, but not cold area of your home. Set the temperature control to 0 F (-18 C) as standalone freezers should run colder than combined units. Allow a few inches of clearance all around the unit for proper air circulation and use a grounded outlet for power. Periodically check that the freezer door is sealing tightly. If you keep your freezer well stocked, it will run more efficiently.

To clean your freezer, remove and store all frozen foods in plastic bags. Unplug the unit until the frost build-up is soft. Carefully remove the ice and wipe the inside with a mild detergent solution. If your freezer has an odour, use a baking soda/warm water solution or a commercial odour remover. Rinse and wipe dry. Plug-in the unit once the inside has dried, and replace your frozen foods. Vacuum off any dust from the condenser coils. Label frozen packages as much as possible to eliminate any mystery.

Continued in The Handiest Household Appliance Tips: Dishwashers & Garburators

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