If you’re looking for simple ways to save energy at home, your refrigerator is a good place to start. That’s because your fridge is one of your home’s single biggest electricity users (other members of this club include your air conditioner and your water heater.) But with a few simple steps you can make your current refrigerator more efficient — and when it’s time to buy a new fridge, these resources can help you make a smart choice.
What can you do to make your current fridge greener? A good place to start is with this list from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and there’s a similar list of tips from Energy Star.
Here are a few of the strategies these resources suggest:
You may have heard that you can save energy by cleaning your refrigerator’s condenser coils. While that seems like a common sense way to keep your refrigerator running more efficiently, there’s a surprisingly heated debate about this online, with some sources saying this is an energy myth. On the other hand, there are probably at least small energy savings from cleaning the coils — check out this Home Energy article to read more about one program that tried to measure the savings. In any case, cleaning your refrigerator coils can’t hurt.
If you have an older refrigerator, upgrading to a newer model can save money in the long term through reductions in your electric bills. Energy Star has a refrigerator retirement calculator that can help do the math. Remember that if you do decide to buy a new refrigerator, you won’t save any energy if you simply move the old one out into the garage as a second refrigerator. One green alternative is to recycle the old fridge.
When you’re shopping for a new refrigerator, look for energy efficient models. A good place to start is by checking for the Energy Star label and — good news! — this standard was recently updated to require higher levels of efficiency. You can get a complete list of all refrigerators with an Energy Star label here.
If your fridge is relatively new and energy efficient enough, but needs basic maintenance, read Repair a Broken Refrigerator from The Family Handyman magazine. It can help you reduce fridge noise, fix a broken ice maker, and more.
For most homes, the steps above will produce the energy savings you’re looking for. But for some people that’s not quite enough. In particular, homes that are powered by renewable energy generally need to consume as little energy as possible. (It’s usually much cheaper to cut your electricity use than to upgrade to a larger solar or wind system.) If you’re looking for serious electricity savings, here are a few options to consider:
Have you tried any of these tips? Gone shopping for an energy-efficient refrigerator? Lived without a fridge for an extended period of time? Share your experiences by posting a comment below.
Megan E. Phelps is a freelance writer based in Kansas. She enjoys reading and writing about all things related to sustainable living including homesteading skills, green building and renewable energy. You can find her on Google+.
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