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How to Increase the Efficiency of Your Refrigerator

Did you know that your refrigerator is responsible for about 10% of your total electric bill?  With one appliance zapping so much energy, here are a few steps you can take to keep that electric bill in check—and help your refrigerator last longer.

1. Clean the coils.

Experts recommend cleaning refrigerator coils underneath the fridge at least once a year. Before tackling this task, be sure to unplug your fridge and carefully brush or vacuum the coils—which could improve efficiency by 30%.

2. Set the refrigerator temperatures at optimum levels.

A refrigerator should be set at 37 degrees, and a freezer should be set at 0 degrees. Anything colder makes your fridge work harder, which uses more energy. However, according to Consumer Reports, many refrigerators don’t allow you to precisely set the temperatures—and even with digital displays, sometimes the temperature settings aren’t always accurate.  Instead, it’s best to get an appliance thermometer to measure your refrigerator’s true temperature.

3. Regulate your kitchen’s room temperature.

Ideal room temperature for a refrigerator is nothing over 70 degrees; anything over that causes refrigerators to use 2.5% more energy for every degree over.  That means if your home’s thermostat is set to 75 degrees, for example, then your fridge will use 12.5% more energy than if it was set at 70 degrees.

4. Make room around—and inside—your fridge.

Refrigerators need room to have good air circulation. Make sure there are at least two inches of space between your refrigerator and the walls around it. Likewise, a fridge needs airflow inside to keep food cool, so make sure you don’t pack items too tightly on the shelves. Without proper air circulation inside and outside your appliance, it will use more energy to stay cool.

5. Check the seals around your fridge doors.

Over time, the seals around refrigerator doors can loosen or wear down. To check the seal, place a dollar bill between the fridge door and the door seal, and repeat at different locations around the door edge. If the dollar bill moves easily, then it’s time to replace your seals—which keeps the cool air in and prevents energy waste.

6. Consider extra appliance protection.

According to Consumer Reports, about 40% of new refrigerators will develop problems or break within the first five years of ownership—with the average life expectancy of today’s refrigerators lasting about 10 years.  To help protect your wallet from an unexpected fridge breakdown, you may want to consider a home protection plan from our partners at Cinch, which can help repair or replace your refrigerator and other appliances and systems when they stop working.

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