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Category: Appliances and Electronics

You and Your Refrigerator

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.

Be sure and read your manual and maintain this appliance. Take good care of your refrigerator, and it should serve you well.



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