Green tips: Is your fridge running? Better go catch it!

What’s white and stands in the corner? A naughty fridge.

It’s amazing how many fridge jokes are out there when you need them.

Here’s no joke: Your fridge is one of the biggest energy hogs in your home. A new fridge could be as much as 75% more efficient than an old clunker. But even the most efficient fridge uses more energy a year than the average citizen in Ghana. Or Yemen or many other nations. For real.

So if your fridge is more than ten years old, a new one is likely to pay off in serious energy savings.

You can find out just how much you’ll save using this refrigerator calculator from Energy Star.

Also check out the national rebates and recycling options. Here at home,  Energy Trust of Oregon offers incentives for recycling old fridges and for buying new energy-efficient fridges—including $75 cash incentive for ENERGY STAR fridges, $35 for ENERGY STAR freezers and a $20-40 incentive and free fridge recycling pickup.

But if you don’t have the cash to shell out for a new fridge, consider these easy tips to make the most of your fridge for the least cash.

  • Keep your fridge out of the sun, away from the oven, and a few inches away from the wall to keep air circulating.
  • Get yourself a paint brush or special “condenser coil brush” and clean the coils. If you don’t have the fridge manual, you can look up instructions online. Don’t forget to unplug your fridge first!
  • Clean the gaskets around the edge of the fridge to make sure you’re getting a good seal. Baking soda and water works well to keep the gaskets in good shape and also get rid of bad odors.
  • Check the gaskets to see if they seal well. Close the door on a piece of paper, and gently tug on the paper. You should feel good tension gripping the paper. Try it in a few sections. If it isn’t sealing, you can replace seals.
  • Make sure your fridge is level, so that the door seals properly. Set a level on the top of the fridge facing you (to see if it is level side-to-side), and then turn it 90 degree (to check for level front-to-back). If you need to adjust, most fridges have adjustable feet (who knew?) that can be tightened or loosened.
  • Check to see if the light turns off when the fridge is closed. This sounds like a joke, but it’s not: that little bulb can raise the temperature in the fridge. Close the door and use a butter knife to move the gasket aside and peek in. If the light is on. You may need a new switch…or you can just remove the bulb.
Optimum operation:
  • Experts recommend 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit as an optimum temperature setting; that’s about the middle of the temperature dial.
  • Keep your freezer about ¾ full—enough to keep things cold, but also allow the vents to stay clear and let air circulate.
Don’t be like this:




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3 Replies to "Green tips: Is your fridge running? Better go catch it!"

  • Jody Howe
    September 28, 2015 (5:38 pm)

    Loved the refrigerator jokes, been a long time. Thanks for gettting this back out there. And how I hate to see 2 or 3 at house that are old.

    September 29, 2015 (8:32 am)

    How is a little old senior citizen like myself, living alone, supposed to budge the fridge to clean its outside, when mine fits into a corner nook?? It had about 2″-3″ clearance to make it through the incoming kitchen doorway!!

    • Jen Coleman
      November 13, 2015 (5:33 pm)

      I totally hear you, Kay The Gardener! I always say, you have to pick the habits that fit your lifestyle. If you can’t clean the coils, so be it–I am sure there are a thousand and one tips you could share with others on how you, personally, save energy and water in ways that make sense for you! I’d love to hear tips from you to share.