Energy-efficient fridges and freezers

June 30, 2015

Our kitchens are big energy and water users and the main source of household waste, so evaluate your kitchen routines and make some changes. Using resources wisely, running energy-efficient appliances, and recycling as much as possible will pay dividends for you, your home and the environment.

Energy-efficient fridges and freezers

Ten cool savers

1. Fridges and freezers are energy-hungry appliances, so when it's time to buy choose high-efficiency models. In turn, this will help you make significant financial savings over the long term.

2. Don't be tempted to keep an old fridge running as a back-up unless you really need it. Old fridges are likely to be more energy-hungry than newer, more energy-efficient models.

3. Locate your fridge in a cool spot, away from heat-producing appliances, and make sure there is an air space of at least eight centimetres (three inches) around the coils at the back. A lack of space or ventilation can reduce efficiency by up to 15 per cent.

4. Don't set the thermostat too cold. The optimum temperature for a fridge is about 3 to 4°C (37 to 39°F); for a freezer it's -18 to -15°C (0.4 to 5°F). Every 1°C reduction can increase energy use by five per cent.

5. Open the door as little as possible. For every minute it is open, it takes the fridge three minutes to cool down again.

6. Keep the fridge at least two-thirds full. Food retains cold better than air does, so an empty fridge actually requires more energy to stay cold.

7. Regularly check that the seals are working properly. To do this, close the door over a piece of paper; if you can pull the paper out easily, the seal isn't strong enough. Tighten the hinges or replace the seals. (You can use this method to check oven seals too.)

8. Defrost the freezer every three months or so if it's not a frost-free model. Never let more than five millimetres of frost accumulate.

9. Clean the coils at the back annually to keep it working efficiently.

10. If you go away for a long period, empty the fridge, turn it off and leave the door open.

Buy wisely

  • Look for a fridge or freezer with a high Energy Rating. The highest rated models may cost a little more but can use half the energy of the lowest rated appliances.
  • Ask suppliers whether they can offer appliances that use environmentally friendly technology.
  • Don't buy a bigger fridge or freezer than you need. A 284-litre (75 gallon) fridge and a 210-litre (55 gallons) fridge might have the same Energy Rating, but the 284-litre (75 gallon) fridge will use 20 per cent more energy than the 210-litre (55 gallons) fridge.
  • If you're tossing up between two small fridges or one large one, go for the large one as it will generally be more cost-effective.
  • If you want a large, separate freezer, a chest freezer is likely to be more economical than an upright freezer because most models of this type have thicker insulation, which retains cold air more efficiently.
  • Avoid buying fridges with unnecessary extras, such as ice-makers. They cost more to buy and use more energy.
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