10 Tips for Keeping Your Fridge Frosty — And Energy-Efficient

Keeping the fridge just full enough to be efficient is a balancing act. (Photo: hedgehog94/Shutterstock)

In last week's New York Times, "The Fix" columnist Jay Romano suggests now that the holidays have come to an end we should give the most energy-guzzling kitchen appliance, the refrigerator, a well-deserved rest through energy-saving techniques. He also suggests putting older models into retirement and replacing them with newer, more-efficient models. Unsure where to start? Check out these ten suggestions. If you have other methods of keeping your fridge in-check, let me know!

1. It may take a chunk out of your paycheck, but consider buying a newer, more energy-efficient refrigerator. You'll save in the long run. Start your search at ENERGY STAR's database of approved fridges. Current ENERGY STAR models consume 40 percent less energy than conventional models sold in 2001. If you swap out a conventional fridge bought in 1990 with an ENERGY STAR model, you'll be saving enough energy to light your house for four months.

2. Clean the refrigerator coils located behind or underneath your fridge every six months or so. This will keep your fridge running efficiently.

3. Mind how long you keep the refrigerator door open. Organize items in easy-to-remember spots to minimize the time you spend rummaging around with the door open. Also consider labeling items.

4. Ensure the door is sealed tight. If you can slid a dollar bill through it when closed, consider replacing the rubber gaskets.

5. Don't overcrowd the fridge so that air has trouble circulating but also keep it full enough to maximize cooling power. If your freezer is on the barren-side, add bags of ice.

6. Set the refrigerator to run at between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit. The freezer -- which should be defrosted periodically -- should be set to a nice and chilly 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Set up your fridge so that it's at a distance from heat-emitting appliances like ovens and dishwashers.

8. Keep foods wrapped and liquids covered. Uncovered foods release moisture into your fridge, making the compressor work harder.

9. Change the water filte r if your model has an automatic ice maker or water dispenser. Check the owner's manuel to see how frequently this should be done.

10. I f you opt to replace an old model, make sure it's disposed of properly. Check out ENERGY STAR's Recycle My Old Fridge Campaign for more details.