Finessing Your Fridge

Posted on January 10, 2012 by The Modern Gal

The Modern Hubby is quite the beer aficionado and is getting back into brewing his own beer, an old hobby of his. To feed his habit, he purchased a used kegerator (or beer fridge or beer dispenser, or whatever you want to call it) to store our small kegs of beer, which means we’re now powering both a full-sized fridge/freezer unit plus the equivalent of a mini fridge. Not particularly environmentally friendly considering refrigerators use more energy than just about any appliance outside HVACs and water heaters, but the things you do for love, right?

Still, obtaining the kegerator got me curious about how I might make my fridges less of an energy suck outside of buying newer more energy efficient units, which just isn’t in the budget right now. Not to mention, refrigerators are large, unwieldy things that represent a huge chunk of waste if they’re not able to be reused.

I got to researching refrigerator efficiency, and I was kind of surprised at just how much you CAN do to help yours out:

  • Keep the refrigerator┬ámostly full, leaving just a little bit of room for the cold air to circulate. Pack your freezer as tightly as possible. Once your items are either chilled or frozen, they do their own work keeping the inside of the fridge cool, especially after the door has been opened or when the power is out.
  • If keeping your fridge and freezer packed is unrealistic (like you can’t eat the food fast enough), then fill them with jugs of water or extra ice trays instead. Cool drinks of water don’t usually turn sour.
  • Make sure the fridge’s coils aren’t working harder than they need to. Don’t push the fridge all the way against the wall — give those coils room to breathe, and keep them clean by vacuuming them every so often.
  • Don’t turn the temperatures down any farther than they need to be. Refrigerators operate best between 35 and 40 degrees and freezers should be kept around 0 degrees.
  • And your parents were right when they were shouting at you during your childhood to close the door! The longer you keep open the door to the fridge or freezer, the more the cold air escapes, which means the more energy it needs to keep everything cool.
  • If you’re weighing the benefits/drawbacks to keeping your old refrigerator against getting a new one, check out these Energy Star tools.


  1. Great tips! I can honestly say I’ve never vacuumed the coils on the back of my fridge. I should probably do that.

    January 10th, 2012 at 10:52 am
    Comment by courtney
  2. Speaking of HVACS and water heaters, we don’t use either! But I think you forgot to mention the washing machine (which we also don’t use), albeit the massive energy consumption of that appliance is mostly due to it using so much warm/hot water, so I guess you might still call that the water heater. If you wash on cold it’s not so bad.

    About refrigerators…Use the smallest one you can and it’s not so hard to keep full. You don’t have to buy a new one, buy a used one. Apartment size suffices for many families. Also, fridges with the freezer on top use less energy than French door models and freezer on bottom models (says Mr. Electricity at

    January 21st, 2012 at 4:54 pm
    Comment by Rachael

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If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.

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