This week we are honing in on the hog in your kitchen. Now before anyone gets offended, we should clarify that it’s your fridge we are talking about. We are singling it out because of it’s reputation as the most energy consuming appliance in your home. In fact, fridges account for roughly 5-8% of the monthly energy bill.
Unlike a washer or dryer, your refrigerator is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week -so it’s key for your kitchen’s energy efficiency. This appliance is truly an indispensable part of your family. Not only does it cool drinks and keep all that tasty food fresh, it is a hub of activity with people coming and going as they please, grabbing snacks when the urge strikes or just peering in, thinking about what to eat next.
There is no doubt that your fridge is working hard; but is it working efficiently?
We think everyone has a role to play in protecting our planet and part of that is making sure household appliances are as energy efficient as possible.
The appliance industry has come a long way. Fridges not only look different than earlier models, they perform better thanks to advances in technology and tightened manufacturing efficiency standards. In addition to compressor and cooling coil improvements, new fridges have tighter door seals and are made with better insulation.
Today’s refrigerator models are actually up to 75% more energy efficient than those produced in the 1970s. And that speaks volumes about the technology since contemporary fridges are now much taller and wider than earlier offerings with far more cubic feet to keep cool.
Energy efficient refrigerators are an important ingredient our greener future because they help to curb CO2 emissions. Decades ago, the average fridge contributed around 3000 pounds of CO2 per year while newer Energy Star models have cut that figure by two thirds.
Anyone recall the retro avocado green or harvest gold options that graced kitchens 40 years ago? It’s estimated one quarter of Canadians still have one of those vintage fridges in their basement or garage. And that is where we will start with our top five fridge efficiency tips:
- Don’t Double Up
If you have a second fridge, chances are it is underutilized and chewing through your wallet. Sure, it may come in handy when you have a party or guests over for the big game; but the rest of the year, it probably stays plugged in, wasting both energy and money.
We know that most second fridges are older and less sophisticated models that were demoted to the basement or garage when the shiny new upgrade arrived. That means these guys are less efficient and working a lot harder, battling the elements outside (like a hot summer garage) to keep just a handful of items cold. Hardly seems worth it!
Since one larger refrigerator is cheaper to run than two smaller ones, we suggest you permanently retire your backup fridge. A friendly reminder: If you do retire an old fridge, be mindful of disposing of it at your neighbourhood eco station where it can be disassembled and disposed of properly.
- Out with the Old
If your fridge is from another decade, it may be time to swap it for an ENERGY STAR approved model. These fridges are 20% more efficient that government standards and can save you $40 or more on your energy bill each year. Of course, another thing we love about most modern fridges is the LED lighting. That means the bulbs brightening up your new stainless beauty will be efficient and stay cool to the touch – just like your food. Give your fridge a break and steer clear of models with conventional lights that will heat up the interior.
- Find your Perfect Match
Once you decide to purchase a new fancy fridge, be sure to get the right size for your household. It’s simple. If your fridge is too big, you’ll waste energy. On the flip side, if you jam a smaller fridge full of too many items, it will become inefficient due to overcrowding. To achieve maximum efficiency, aim to keep your fridge at least three quarters full.
- Location, location, location
If your new fridge is part of a bigger plan to revamp your kitchen, be strategic about where it is positioned. Steer clear of heat vents, direct sunlight or your oven as these will force your fridge to work hard and spend more energy trying to keep cool.
- Set it and forget it
Last but not least, optimize the temperature. Most newer models will tell you the perfect setting, which is between 2°C and 3°C in the fridge and -18°C in your freezer. Remember cooler isn’t better. Dropping the temperature by 5°C could increase energy use by as much as 25%. A fridge thermometer will come in handy if you want to confirm the temperature is just right.
If you are hungry for a change for the better, check out the Energy Star Most Efficient list to find a fridge that will save both money and the environment.
About The Author
Serial Entrepreneur, Technologist and Inventor.
My objective is to develop useful products that have a net positive effect in the lives of those that use them and the environment that we live in.
CEO of Mission LED Lighting Company Ltd.
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