If you’re like most people, chances are your refrigerator/freezer is one of the largest single consumers of energy in your home, gobbling up about 8% of your household’s annual energy costs. Why? It is on 24 hours a day using between 100 and 200 kilowatt hours a month.

Keep it clean: To maximize your refrigerator’s efficiency, clean the coils every three months (or as often as necessary) keeping them free of dust.

Pull the Plug: Unplug and recycle any non-essential refrigerator and freezers. Some people keep their old refrigerator or freezer in the garage, but it is sitting their sucking money out of your bank account. FEC will provide you with a rebate to recycle those old units.

Fill it up: Keep your refrigerator and freezer full but not overloaded. It takes more energy to cool an empty area but too much food in either compartment can prevent cold air from circulating properly. Utilize bottles filled with water to take up unused space and provide a nice cool drink on a hot summer day.

Keep it closed: Keep the refrigerator/freezer door closed. Every time you open the door you increase the energy consumption by 10% until the set temperature is reached again. So make your decisions before you open the door and get everything you need quickly and at one time.

Keep it cool: Keep your refrigerator and freezer in a well-ventilated, dry, and cool place out of the sun and away from your oven, stove, water heater, clothes drier, and any other warm location. A 10% increase in temperature around a fridge can result in 20% higher energy consumption.

Set it Properly: Set your refrigerator between 37 and 40 degrees. Set your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees.

Keep it level: A refrigerator that’s not level may cause the door gasket to seal improperly letting the cold air leak out.

Keep foods covered: Covering foods will reduce moisture build-up on the inside of the refrigerator. Also, wipe moisture from bottles and other containers before placing them in the refrigerator.

Defrost as required: Defrost your freezer when ice or frost build-up is 1/4″ or thicker.

Don’t cool it if you aren’t going to save it: Think about those leftovers before putting them in the fridge. Are you really going to eat it? Why cool something you’ll probably throw out anyway?

Plan for Vacation: If you’re going away for a few days, get rid of foods that are likely to spoil. If you are going to be gone for more than a month, consider cleaning out your refrigerator, unplugging it and leaving the doors open.

Keep it maintained: A refrigerator works best when it has been properly maintained. The seals around refrigerator and freezer doors dry out and stop sealing well over time, allowing cooled air to escape and wasting energy. Check to be sure your seals are still good by closing the door on a $1 dollar bill and slowly pulling it out – no resistance means that cold air is escaping even when the door is shut and you should replace the seal or adjust the door, if possible.

Purchase a new refrigerator/freezer: When you need a new refrigerator or freezer, be sure to choose an ENERGY STAR model. ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator models use at least 20% less energy than required by current federal. For even greater efficiency, choose a refrigerator with the freezer compartment below or above the fridge rather than a side-by-side model. Along with efficiency, be sure to compare cubic footage and purchase a model that matches your needs.