There aren’t many households without a fridge these days, and it may surprise you to know that your household bill can vary greatly depending on how efficiently you run your fridge.
The average 400-500 litre fridge in Australia costs about $165 a year to run. That’s a lot of money. If your fridge temperature is too low, then you are using more energy than you need to, and your running costs may be burning a hole in your hip pocket. In this blog post, I will tell you how you can reduce your energy costs just by setting your fridge to the right temperature.
Of course, the first step in reducing your energy consumption in Australia is to buy energy-efficient appliances. You’re looking for a high star rating on your product, and each new product sold in Australia is required to have this rating by law. The higher the stars, the more efficient the product is.
If you are running an old fridge, or running one with damaged or loose seals (which keep the cold air in and the warm air out), then you could be throwing away a lot of money. Even in the short term it may be worthwhile buying a new more efficient fridge.
With an economical fridge installed and running, the best way to reduce your energy bill is to have it set at the right temperature. The temperature you set your fridge to run at will ultimately determine the actual power used in any given month.
According to the CSIRO, your fridge should be set to 3 degrees to maintain freshness of the food inside, while your freezer should be set to somewhere between -18 and -20 degrees Celcius.
KEEPING FOOD FRESH
How fresh your food stays in the fridge relies on the temperature and where you put your food in the fridge. Just because you set your fridge to 3 degrees, doesn’t mean that everywhere in the fridge is that temperature. If you store food in the door, for example, this area will be warmer because it’s always exposed when the door is opened.
When you are placing food in your fridge, think about the temperature. Coldest at the bottom, warmer at the top and warmest in the door. Those foods that are ready to eat should be at the top, while those that are most sensitive to heat should never be stored in the door.
Food on the lower shelves at the back, or in draws will likely be coolest. This is because cold air sinks and if it is trapped behind a drawer then it can’t escape when the fridge doors are opened.
If you have a dedicated crisper, then you may find the temperature in this compartment is controlled, and could be a bit warmer. The crisper is designed so that food doesn’t freeze. Most modern fridge crispers have an adjustment to let air circulate.
SETTING THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE
If your fridge is set lower than 3 degrees then it’s too cold, and likely to be chewing up too much energy each month. Unless your fridge has a digital setting, then you’re unlikely to know exactly how cold your fridge is. If this is you, then you might want to invest in a digital thermometer from Amazon.com.au to check the temperature inside your fridge.
For less than $20, you can know exactly the temperature in different parts of your fridge, so you can set the temperature dial more accurately. Place your digital thermometer on the middle shelf of your fridge and close the for about twenty-minutes, or so. When you open the door again, the objective is to get the temperature to about 3 degrees. It may take a little while to get the temperature just right, but it’s worth the effort.
Most freezers have a dial with a 1-10 setting, shift the dial based on how far outside the range you are. Even if your fridge has a digital setting it does not hurt to use a digital thermometer as an independent check. You don’t want to risk your fridge temperature being too high otherwise your food may spoil too quickly, or in the case of some foods you could make yourself and your family ill.
Once you’ve made a temperature adjustment, be sure to use your thermometer again to determine the internal temperature – waiting 20 minutes or so to get an accurate reading.
Once you’ve found your correct setting do some calculations in the difference of your energy bill. You will know your starting temperature, and how many degrees you raised the temperature in your fridge. You should be able to accurately determine the savings, in your next full billing cycle (all other usage being similar).
Between seasons, or about every three to 4 months, you should repeat the process of temperature checking to make sure your fridge keeps running economically.