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In “Making Strides Toward Energy-Efficient Appliance Use, Part 1”, we discussed small appliances, your oven and range, your clothes washer and dryer. Now, we’re going to consider the biggest culprit, or energy hog, among appliances: your refrigerator. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, your refrigerator accounts for approximately 5% of your home’s energy use. Since it’s such a major player, using it wisely can make a big impact in your home’s overall energy efficiency — and your electric bill.

Consider a Newer Model

Refrigerators and combined refrigerator/freezer units that are more than a decade old cost consumers a combined $4.7 billion in energy costs each year. If you’re in the market for a new refrigerator, one thing to look for is Energy Star rating. By using improved compressors and insulation, Energy Star certified refrigerators run up to 10% more efficiently than other new models that still meet minimum energy efficiency standards. By upgrading to an Energy Star refrigerator, you can expect to save up to $300 on energy costs over the unit’s lifetime. To get a more specific idea of how much you might save, check out this online savings calculator.

Another feature to consider when shopping for a new refrigerator is automatic moisture control. Models that include this feature utilize a heater to help prevent the accumulation of moisture on the exterior surfaces of the cabinet. Unlike “anti-sweat heaters,” which consume from 5-10% more energy, moisture-control heaters actually reduce the amount of energy the appliance uses.

Keep it Cool

The goal is to keep food cold enough to retain freshness without costing more energy than needed. It might sound like we’re going all Goldilocks on you here, but you don’t want to keep it too warm or too cold. Ideal temperatures for refrigerators and freezers are as follows:


37’-40’ F for the refrigerator

5’ F for the freezer section of a combined unit
0’ F for a free-standing freezer

To ensure that your refrigerator settings are accurate, you can place a specially designed appliance thermometer in a glass of water placed in the middle of your refrigerator or between frozen packages in your freezer. After 24 hours, you should be able to get an accurate reading of your appliance’s temperature.

Reconsider Location

In order to allow your refrigerator or freezer to run on as little energy possible, you should have it placed away from direct sunlight or other heat sources. Heat sources can include a stove, microwave, toaster oven, or even a coffee pot. You’ll also want to make sure there’s at least an inch on either side of each unit, in order to allow for proper air circulation. For freezers located in an attached garage or a basement, you’ll want to make sure the space typically remains above 45’ F.

For more tips on how to save energy with your refrigerator and freezer, check out Part 3.


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Since 1994, the D’Amico Electric Company has been offering electrical contracting services for industrial, commercial and residential buildings. From backup generator installation & ongoing maintenance to landscape/accent wiring and home theater systems, our experienced technicians are here to serve you. With our fleet of 10 trucks, we provide emergency electrical services 24 hours a day.

D’Amico Electric is licensed in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, New York and all of Connecticut. Our founder is Anthony D’Amico, a licensed electrician since 1992, who is a member of the Westchester Licensed Electrical Contractors Association.

When you need electrical help, choose D’Amico. We bring safe & innovative electrical solutions to homes & businesses. For more information on how we can serve you, call D’Amico Electric today at (914) 241-6909.

Making STrides Toward Energy-Efficient Appliance Use, Part 2