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Top Tips on Energy Efficient Refrigeration

By Karin Mangan
Top Tips on Energy Efficient Refrigeration

Nowadays we are frequently reminded to switch off electrical appliances when we are not using them. Generally, this is good advice that isn't difficult to follow. In fact, it soon becomes second nature. Turning appliances off when they are not in use saves energy and money. It also helps appliances to last longer. Refrigerators and freezers, however, have to remain turned on 24 hours a day and can use a lot of energy. Statistics from the UK show that combined, refrigerators and freezers produce between 89 and 175 kg of CO2 per year, compared to 11kg for a low energy light bulb, 51kg for a washing machine, and 159kg for an electric tumble dryer, based on average use. With this level of energy consumption, it is important to ensure that refrigerators and freezers are running efficiently.

How to Get the Best from you Refrigerator or Freezer

  • Replace old with new. If your freezer or refrigerator is old, it is unlikely to be very efficient. Typically, a new refrigerator with an automatic defrost and a top-mounted freezer uses about half the energy of a 1990 refrigerator. Furthermore, an old refrigerator or freezer almost certainly contains the greenhouse gases chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) or hydrofluorocarbon (HFC).
  • Pay for what you use. If your refrigerator or freezer is not full, you are using energy unnecessarily to cool empty space. Refrigerators over 25 cubic feet use significantly more energy than those under 25 cubic feet, so don't buy a big one unless you really need it. On the other hand, if you do need more refrigeration space, a large refrigerator is more energy efficient than two smaller ones.
  • Defrost regularly. Ice build-up on the coils means that the refrigerator or freezer has to work harder to maintain its temperature. Either purchase an automatic defrost appliance or defrost manually on a regular basis. You may need to adjust the thermostat downward after defrosting.
  • Check the door seals. If the door seals on your refrigerator or freezer are not holding the door firmly in place, your appliance has to use extra energy to maintain its temperature. Try closing a sheet of paper in the door. If the door doesn't hold it in place, your door seals are not working properly.

Note: It is important to make sure that an old refrigerator or freezer is disposed of safely because of the CFCs or HFCs they contain. Most municipalities pick up refrigerators and freezers, or your utility may pick them up and may also pay you an incentive to get rid of old, inefficient appliances.

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