Powering away 24/7, your fridge and freezer work harder than any other appliances in the house. Taking steps to help them run as efficiently as possible could save you money and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.
Follow these seven tips to help lower the amount of energy your cold appliance uses.
Want to discover which fridge freezers are best? See our Best Buys
1. Clean the condenser coils
Dust on the condenser coils can prevent your appliance from cooling properly, and if it’s particularly thick it can reduce the efficiency by as much as 25%. So you’ll want to take time out to give them a clean, probably twice a year. Follow these steps to get the job done quickly and safely:
- Carefully pull out the appliance and unplug it. Don’t worry about your food warming up or thawing as it should be a quick job.
- Locate the coils – they will likely look like a metal grid running up the back of the appliance (similar to the image above). Alternatively, you’ll find them at the bottom of the appliance (possibly behind a panel at the front or back).
- Gently vacuum the coils to take off as much dust as you can – if your vacuum has a brush attachment, you might want to use that.
- Use a separate brush to clear off any remaining dirt and dust from the coils, and vacuum again to clear up any remaining mess.
2. Check the door seals are working properly
Any damage to the seals around your appliance’s doors will allow warm air to get inside, which will force your fridge or freezer to work harder in order to maintain the set temperature.
Check the seals for any tears, warping in the corners or even bits where the seals have hardened.
You can replace them yourself. Sometimes it’s as easy as pulling out the old ones, but you might have to loosen some screws that keep them in place. New seals are often available online for £30 to £100.
3. Let leftovers cool down
You should always let leftovers cool to room temperature before putting them inside your fridge. Otherwise, the warmth of your recently cooked food will send the temperature in your fridge skyrocketing and force your fridge to work harder to cool down, pushing up your energy bills.
Putting warm food in the fridge will also reduce the freshness of other food inside – which needs to be kept at a stable temperature.
Leave leftovers to cool down on the kitchen counter first, but take care not to leave them sitting out for more than a couple of hours.
4. Defrost food in the fridge
If you’re defrosting food, plan ahead and let it defrost slowly in the fridge. Not only is this the safest method of thawing your food, but it also helps to cool the inside of your fridge. This means the compressor will have less work to do and the amount of energy required to keep your fridge chilled will be reduced.
Our guide on how to store food safely in the freezer has loads of tips on how to make sure your food is safely frozen and defrosted
5. Close the door quickly
When you’re taking food out of the fridge, you want to get in and out as quickly as you can. So no using the fridge shelf like a plate and dipping into a pot of hummus with the door wide open.
Every time the fridge door is opened, cold air escapes and warmer air enters. This exchange pushes up the temperature inside and the fridge has to work harder, using more energy, to get back down to the set temperature.
Some manufacturers have introduced features that make it much easier to put this particular tip into practice. The LG GSX961NSAZ InstaView fridge freezer, for example, has a glass panel on the front that allows you to see inside the fridge without opening the door.
6. Defrost your freezer
If your freezer isn’t frost-free, then you need to make sure you defrost it regularly to prevent a build up of ice.
Not only will it take up precious space where your food should be, but the ice actually acts as an insulator. This means your freezer has to run longer and work harder in order to penetrate that block of ice to keep your food cold, and therefore it will cost you more in electricity to run.
Our guide on how to defrost your freezer will walk you through the process in 10 simple steps
7. Choose or upgrade to an energy-efficient refrigerator
The energy efficiency of home appliances has come a long way in the past 10 years, and compared with the latest models, older cold appliances are real energy-guzzlers.
With the new energy label system clearing away confusing A to A+++ ratings and replacing them with a simple A to G system, the door is open again for manufacturers to continue innovating in order to produce even more energy-efficient appliances.
If you have an older model at home, it might be worth considering an upgrade, as it could be costing you a lot more to run than a newer one will.
When you’re shopping around, do think about how much capacity you really need. Large multi-door and American-style fridge freezers can look the part, but if you’re not going to keep yours fully stocked on a regular basis, you’ll end up paying to chill empty space.
Every cold appliance we test is given a score for energy efficiency and you’ll see this on each of our reviews. We also give an indication of what their yearly running costs might be, so you can compare them easily. To get you started, we’ve also picked out some of the most energy-efficient fridge freezers, fridges and freezers to help you make the right choice.