Get the best from your fridge-freezer and save on energy. These seven tips work for home and office appliances.
- If practical, place your fridge away from your cooker or heat source and make sure it is not in direct sunlight - it will operate more efficiently in a cool spot.
- Keep the fridge at least 10cm from the wall, as this will allow the coils to work most efficiently. They should also be dust-free, so vacuum them every few months, but remember to unplug the fridge first.
- Keep your fridge at between 3 and 5°C and your freezer at -18 °C. Maintaining these temperatures consistently will keep your food cool and you energy bills down.
- Do not put hot food in the fridge as it takes more energy to cool hot food. Leave it to cool first.
- Keep your fridge and freezer filled – don’t make your appliance work harder cooling air! You can use bottles of tap water in the fridge and screwed up newspaper in the freezer.
- Make sure the door seals are effective and keep them clean to make sure a good seal is maintained. Door seals are the key to a good fridge but they are also the first thing likely to wear down and break.
- If your fridge does not defrost automatically, keep an eye out for any signs of ice and defrost it regularly. A buildup of ice will stop your fridge/freezer from working effectively.
Do you need a new fridge and/or freezer?
If your fridge and/or freezer are over ten years old, it may well be time to consider a replacement. Even if your old fridge-freezer is still working it may be worth buying a new model. High efficiency compressors, improved insulation and more accurate temperature and defrost mechanisms mean newer models are far more energy-efficient. This means your initial outlay could be offset over time by reduced running costs.
How to choose an energy-efficient fridge/freezer
Fridges and freezers, like other white goods, are rated according to their energy efficiency. The EU energy label grades products from A (best) to G (worst) for energy use, with the scale going up to A++ for fridges and freezers. Top performing products carry the blue Energy Saving Recommended logo, which means the product meets strict criteria set by the government and the Energy Saving Trust. That means you can trust the energy ratings that are handed out.
But, with fridges and freezers, this is not the only consideration. The EU A-G rating is a rating based on energy consumption per litre or cubic foot of storage and it is easier to make a machine more efficient if it is larger. So a larger A-rated fridge may be more energy-efficient, but can consume more electricity than a smaller B-rated model.
This is why it is important to buy the smallest fridge and/or freezer you can for your needs, because typically a smaller appliance will cost you less to run. To determine running costs and to compare them across different makes and models, look at the annual consumption figure in kWh, which can also be found on the energy label. The lower this figure the more economical the fridge will be to run.
If you are choosing a new fridge and freezer it is worth remembering that a unit with the freezer on top, or underneath, the fridge is more energy-efficient than a side-by-side unit, which uses up to 20% more energy. So, if this will fit in your space, it is definitely the most efficient option.