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8 Ways to Save Money With Your Refrigerator

Updated on January 3, 2012

Let me tell you the story about the Labrador that almost stole Christmas:

One Christmas Eve, a few years ago, my family was in full swing preparing for the holiday. I was in the kitchen, helping my mom make all of the food. I had decided to take charge of desserts, and had woken up at the crack of dawn to make a mountain of cookies, a spicy chocolate gingerbread cake, and the stars of the desert table: 3 luscious ricotta pies.

The refrigerator was full of other Christmas staples-- lasagna, poached salmon, and fried codfish-- so I took the pies outside onto the porch to stay cool. It was a sunny day, there was no wind, and fresh snow covered the ground. The temperature was about 35 F.

A few hours later, I went out to porch only to be horrified. One pie dish lay in shatters all over the concrete, with bits of ricotta cheese thrown into the mix. The other was squeaky clean, as if it had just come out of the dishwasher, and the third was between the paws of the 120 pound family dog, Carly, who was quickly scarfing down the remainder of that buttery, flaky crust.

I was outraged. A morning of hard work had been thrown to the dogs. I guess I should've told my other family members not to let the dog outside while my pies were out there, but in the hustle and bustle, it didn't occur to me that a Labrador Demolition Team would be rolling through.

So, why am I throwing this seemingly unrelated story into a hub about saving money? To prove to you that even on the coldest of days, you need a refrigerator.

Here are tips for reducing energy costs with your refrigerator that I picked up on the job in the Weatherization Department at my local Community Action Agency.

By that way, my mom, genius that she is, whipped up a perfect ricotta pie. Christmas was saved.

Carly, after many, many ricotta pies.
Carly, after many, many ricotta pies.

#1. Don't overcrowd.

Keep your refrigerator and freezer filled to capacity, but don't overcrowd to the point that air can't circulate freely around food. Remember that better air circulation means less energy spent cooling.

#2. Vacuum your fridge. Seriously.

Try to vacuum the condenser coils in the back or at the bottom of your refrigerator every three (3) months or so. When they get covered in dust, they aren't as efficient, leading to increased energy use.

#3. Give your appliances a vacation.

Before you go on vacation, remove your perishables and give them to the neighbors, then turn up the temperature so it is closer to the temperature inside your house.

#4. Cover everything.

Don't put uncovered foods, especially liquids, in the refrigerator. First of all, certain foods will dry out, and almost everything will absorb an undesirable flavor. Second of all, the liquids give off vapors that make the compressor work harder.

Refrigerator | Source

#5. Planning is 90% of every job.

Before you begin cooking, make a list of all of the ingredients you need and take them all out of the refrigerator at once. Every time you open the door of the refrigerator or freezer, the compressor has to run longer to replace the cool air that escapes.

#6. Discourage leisurely inspections of the refrigerator.

One summer, when I was little, I thought that if I left the refrigerator door open long enough, I could cool the outdoors. Needless to say, I got in trouble.

At one point, my mom corrected my and my siblings' habit of leisurely inspecting the contents of the refrigerator every time we got bored by posting up a sign that read, "If there was nothing good in here five minutes ago, what do you expect to find now?" As a surly teenager, I found this annoying. Now, I see the humor in it.

#7. If possible, think about the location of your refrigerator and freezer.

If possible, locate your refrigerators and freezers away from direct sunlight and other sources of warm air, like dishwashers.

#8. Don't let ice accumulate.

If you have a manual defrost refrigerator or freezer, do not let ice accumulate to more than one fourth of an inch thick.

Refrigerator | Source


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    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 6 years ago from Miami, US

      Thanks for the great comment! Yes, Carly is on the list of greatest dogs ever, but she was a bit overweight from eating too many ricotta pies. :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 6 years ago

      Great hub for those of us who need additional ways to save money. I didn't realize that natural light would have an affect upon energy usage of appliances. It makes sense. Carly is so adorable and it would be hard for me to discipline such a sweet dog. Your pies must have been very good! Thanks for sharing this information.

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 6 years ago from Miami, US

      Debbie Roberts- Awesome comment! Let me express my sincere empathy about your mother-in-law! That is one person who is difficult to correct. And don't worry about it, my family thinks I'm crazy too, but we've been paying lower electric bills ever since I moved back in with them, and since we share, they're all thankful!

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 6 years ago from Greece

      It's Sunday morning and I'm browsing through some hubs whilst drinking my coffee. Your hub has now motivated me into doing something I've been putting off for quite some time....Defrosting the thick ice from the side of the freezer!!

      My family think I'm bonkers when I give them stick for leaving the fridge door open needlessly - I've actually caught my mother-in-law trying to cool herself in front of the fridge when she stayed with us during the summer, I had to walk away biting my lip!

      Never thought to hoover the grid though, my lot will think I've totally lost it!!

      A good hub with useful tips that has got me off my bum on this Sunday morning....

      Thank you for sharing...

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 6 years ago from Miami, US

      Alocsin- Mine is old too, and the doors always pop open unexpectedly. Really bad for electricity. I need to make the investment in a new one, because it will hopefully pay for itself in reduced energy bills!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I have on of those old energy-guzzling refrigerator so every little bit of advice helps. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 6 years ago from Miami, US

      Hush4444- I know, me either! I didn't even understand how a refrigerator worked until I started this job. Anyway, I always tasted the difference when I did this. Open foods really do absorb the flavors of everything else in the fridge, and this can even cause the fridge to stink after a while. Thanks for the input, and I'm glad you got something useful out of this hub!

      Thelma Alberts- I appreciate the comment, Happy New Year to you, too!

      Jesimpki- Thank you for the kind comment. I have a few more hubs in the air on a similar topic right now, so I'm sure they'll show up in your feed, I've just been too busy to show my typing on HP lately. I'm glad you liked this hub.

      MIllionaire Tips- Thanks for the vote and the comment! Hopefully your family members will see the humor in that sign! Unfortunately, I didn't appreciate it until now. Teenagers tend to dislike that kind of thing, but if it gets the point across, go for it ;-)

      PicklesandDrufus- I'm glad you stopped by. Looks like you're in good shape, if you follow all of these, but I agree that a refresher course is always useful.

      CWanamaker- You're absolutely right, and I had never thought of it like that! Like a car or a computer, a refrigerator needs to be cleaned out and tweaked to get it back into optimum shape and good energy efficiency. Thanks for the two cents!

      Rsusan- I'm always glad to see your comments on my hubs. What caused the huge increases in the rates? I think that the US is spoiled by lower energy costs than most of the rest of the world, but we'll catch up eventually.

      Lobobrandon- Thanks for commenting! And I appreciate the votes :) I'm lad you liked the hub.

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 6 years ago

      Great hub and even better tips :)

      Voted up and awesome again :)

    • rsusan profile image

      Rika Susan 6 years ago from South Africa

      Great, practical tips, stephaniedas. We have had huge increases in electricity rates since last year, so we have to be super careful about using appliances. These will help.

    • CWanamaker profile image

      CWanamaker 6 years ago from Arizona

      Awesome tips! Many people don't realize that a refrigerator is something that requires maintenance. Regular maintenance will ensure efficiency while also promoting longevity. Tip #6 is especially important; I can't believe how many times I see people open and close the fridge only to repeat it moments later. I was once guilty of this as well. It's a hard habit to break.

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 6 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Great tips!! I do follow most of them, but this hub is a refresher course! thanks. vote up

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      These are great tips - voted up. I hadn't thought about liquid causing the compressor to work harder either. I am going to have to get that sign to prevent leisurely inspection by the rest of the family members.

    • jesimpki profile image

      jesimpki 6 years ago from Radford, VA

      Awesome tips and looking forward to reading more from you. Voted up, useful, funny and interesting. :)

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 6 years ago from Germany

      Thanks for these tips on how to save money with my refrigerator. Happy New Year 2012!!!

    • hush4444 profile image

      hush4444 6 years ago from Hawaii

      I never even thought about open liquids in the fridge giving off vapors and causing the compressor to work harder - we do that all the time. Thanks for another hub full of great tips!