EGEE 102
Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection

Refrigerators & Environmental Protection

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Refrigerators: Your “Power” in the Environmental Protection

  • Keep your refrigerator or freezer at the following temperatures: 37–40°F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator, 0–5°F for the freezer section. Use a thermometer to check inside temperatures.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers; don't allow frost to build up more than 1/4 inch.
  • Make sure your refrigerator and freezer door seals are airtight. Check the seal on door gaskets periodically by closing the door on a dollar bill. If it pulls out easily, you may need a new gasket.
  • Keep the doors closed as much as possible and make sure they are closed tightly.
  • To ensure proper cooling of its contents, don't crowd food items. Too many dishes obstruct air circulation.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Replace paper wrappings on food items with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Paper is an insulator.
  • Consider turning off the butter conditioner since it is a little heater inside your refrigerator.
  • Experiment with the "energy saver" switch in your refrigerator—it allows you to adjust the heating coil under the "skin" of the refrigerator (the purpose of the heating coils is to prevent condensation on your refrigerator).
  • Placement of the refrigerator is very important. Direct sunlight and close contact with hot appliances will make the compressor work harder. More importantly, heat from the compressor and condensing coil must be able to escape freely, or it will cause the same problem. Don't suffocate the refrigerator by enclosing it tightly in cabinets or against the wall. The proper breathing space will vary depending on the location of the coils and compressor on each model—something important to know before the cabinets are redesigned.
  • Regularly brush off or vacuum the refrigerator coils on the back or bottom of the unit.
  • Because most refrigerators reject heat from the bottom and/or back, they need adequate clearance to allow sufficient airflow. While no specific studies have been done to calculate the optimum clearance space, one general rule-of-thumb is to double the space recommended by manufacturers for refrigerator installation. Another rule-of-thumb is to allow 2 inches of air flow around the refrigerator.
  • Don't keep that old, inefficient fridge running day and night in the garage for those few occasions when you need extra refreshments. A 15-year-old refrigerator could cost \$100–\$150 per year.