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Today’s Green Minute continues to highlight the series of energy saving tips provided to the public by the Department of Energy’s Energy Guide for Kitchen Appliances. The appliance featured in this edition is an item everyone has in their kitchen – the refrigerator.
Once again, look for the EnergyGuide label on new refrigerators, which tells you how much electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh) a particular model uses in one year. The smaller the number, the less energy the refrigerator uses and the less it will cost you to operate. In addition to the EnergyGuide label, don’t forget to look for the ENERGY STAR label. A new refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR label uses at least 20% less energy than required by current federal standards and 40% less energy than the conventional models sold in 2001.
REFRIGERATOR-FREEZER ENERGY TIPS
Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37°- 40°F for the fresh food compartment and 5° F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0° F.
Check the refrigerator temperature by placing an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours. Check the freezer temperature by placing a thermometer between frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours.
Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing, or you may consider buying a new unit.
Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
Regularly defrost manual-defrost freezers and refrigerators; frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don’t allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.
LONG-TERM SAVINGS TIP
Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying a new refrigerator. Select a new refrigerator that is the right size for your household. Top freezer models are more energy efficient than side-by-side models. Features like icemakers and water dispensers, while convenient, do use more energy.