You and Your
By Nikki Willhite
Our refrigerators are a wonderful convenience we wouldn't want
to do without. However, they are responsible for approximately 20 percent of our
electric bill. Here are some ways to get that percentage down, while maintaining
the safety of your food.
One of the biggest mistakes people make, probably because they
are in a hurry, is putting food into the refrigerator that has not completely
cooled off. If you eat dinner, and then have to run out the door, what choice do
you have if you want to save the leftovers?
While it may seem expedient, it is not good for your utility
bill, your refrigerator, or you. Putting hot or warm food in the refrigerator
causes the temperature to rise inside the unit, which may be a safety concern
with the other foods in there you are trying to keep cool.
It also puts more strain on your refrigerator, as the appliance
has to work harder to bring the temperature down again. The harder your
refrigerator works, the higher your utility bill.
You would be better of placing your food over ice in a chest
while you are gone. Or, if it is winter, you may be able to place it outside for
a few minutes to cool it off quickly.
Another waste of energy is the too frequent opening of the door,
and letting the cooled air escape. That is another reason why it is good to keep
a list of leftovers and other specialty food in your refrigerator close by, and
training your family to check the list before opening the door.
If you know what you want, it is a lot quicker to get in, pull
it out, and shut the door. Otherwise, you may open the door, and just stand
there, looking around, trying to decide if anything looks good, while all the
cold air escapes.
Another thing to watch is the setting of the temperature in the
unit. If it is not cold enough, that is a safety concern. If you keep it too
cold, you are unnecessarily running up your utility bill.
The optimum temperature for your refrigerator is 38-49 degrees
Fahrenheit. It is a good idea to keep a thermometer in the unit to make sure
that temperature is being maintained. If the refrigerator malfunctions, the
thermostat may also cease working correctly.
You probably know that when you have a freezer, you keep it well
packed to reduce energy consumption. Not so with your refrigerator. It works on
a completely different principle.
In the refrigerator you want air to circulate around the stored
items. That is another reason it is always good to put things away in the
smallest containers possible.
Keep the sun off your refrigerator. If the sun comes through the
windows and hits it a certain time of day, close the blinds for that time
period. If possible, keep all heat producing appliances away from it.
Do not put anything on top of it. Keep air circulating around
the outside of the unit also.
Vacuum the coils with regularity to keep it operating
efficiently, and make sure the door seal is in good condition and holding the
door firmly closed. You should be able to put a piece of paper in the door,
close it, and have to tug hard to remove it. If the seal isn't badly damaged,
they do sell a filler product to repair it. If it is totally dried out, brittle,
and not working, you will have to replace it.