In ?Heat water, not air!? I discussed the easiest place to save electricity - the geyser. Next in line for most South African households is refrigeration. Your refrigerator uses more electricity than all other kitchen appliances and can account for 15 percent of a home?s electricity consumption.
So, if the spiralling cost of electricity makes you hot under the collar, chill out and follow these tips. Knowledge is (and saves) power!
- Buy a new refrigerator. If yours is older than the New South Africa it probably uses 50 percent more electricity than a new one. Top freezer models are up to 13 percent more efficient that side-by-side models. Manuel defrost refrigerators use half the energy of those with automatic defrosting. Ice-makers and water dispensers dramatically increase electricity use. Buy a refrigerator that is just the right size for you and remember that it is cheaper to run one large refrigerator than two smaller ones. Look for features like improved insulation.
When you buy a new refrigerator and don?t need the old one, get rid of it. If you keep the old one, don?t put it in the garage where it is warmer than in the house.
- Temperature setting. There is no need to set your thermostat any lower than three degrees Celsius for the fridge and -10 degrees Celsius for the freezer.
- Keep hot food out of the refrigerator. Your refrigerator struggles to get rid of all the heat that the food radiates and therefore uses more electricity.
- Defrost frozen food in the fridge not the counter. It will help cool the fridge while thawing.
- Make contact. Establish where the refrigerant tubes are located and place any food you want to freeze against those parts.
- Make sure the rubbers that seal the door are in good shape. If it is not sealing properly cold air will escape. Test the condition of the rubbers by closing the door on a piece of paper against the frame. If you can pull the paper out with a gentle tug, adjust the door and replace the rubbers.
- Shut it! According to the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida poor refrigerator opening and closing habits can waste 120 kilowatts per year or 28 percent of the total energy consumption of the average refrigerator. Poor opening and closing habits include too frequent opening or leaving the door open for too long.
Know where the food in the freezer is located. Think before you open the door, plan ahead and remove everything you need in one go.
Encourage the rest of your household to also develop quick in-and-out habits and to resist scrutinising the possibilities with an open door.
- Keep the freezer full. Any frozen entity will tend to keep the things in its vicinity frozen. Also, solids maintain their temperature longer than gas. When you open the door the air inside will warm a little, so having less air and more solid mass inside your freezer will keep your freezer colder.
If you don?t have enough food in the freezer load some water filled plastic bottles.
Keeping the freezer full will also prevent heavy icing.
The refrigerator is a different story and should never be too full. For it to operate efficiently make sure the air circulates freely by keeping some space between each item on the shelves.
- Location, location, location. The warmer your fridge's environment, the harder it must work to keep its contents cool. Keep it out of direct sunlight and away from heaters and the oven. Placing the refrigerator against an external wall will help it get rid of the heat it generates. Putting in front of an open window is an excellent idea.
If you don?t really have a choice where you put your refrigerator at least ensure there is enough space around it to allow for adequate airflow around the cooling elements at the back.
- Single door refrigerators. In these models it is vital that the freezer compartment has its own intact door. If it doesn?t it will operate the whole refrigerator as a freezer.
Actually, it?s best to avoid refrigerators with a built-in frozen food compartment as they are exceedingly inefficient.
- Defrost! Never allow a frosty build up of more than a centimetre.
- Clean the coils. These are the winding black pipes on the back. If they are dusty the fridge uses slightly more electricity because it is not radiating the heat as well.
- Occasionally clean out beneath and behind the fridge.
- Don?t put uncovered liquids in the refrigerator as they vaporise and add to the compressor workload.
- Attach foam sheeting to the sides. This might not look very pretty but you can improve an older fridge?s efficiency by 10 percent even if the foam is only two centimetres thick. Don?t cover the coils and leave room against the wall for air circulation.
- Consider turning off the refrigerator when you?re going on holiday.