The cost of powering your fridge and freezer will probably make up about 7% of your energy bill.
Fridges and freezers are a staple in almost all households these days, but they also make up a huge portion of your energy bill. After all, they are one of the few energy devices that are on all the time.
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So it makes sense to look carefully at their energy efficiency credentials, and to make sure you help them to run in the most efficient way possible - it could help cut how much you spend on electricity.
Read on for tips for an energy-efficient fridge and freezer and advice on choosing a new one.
Seven tips to make your fridge and freezer more energy-efficient
We've pulled together our best energy efficiency tips so you can get the best out of your fridge-freezer and save on energy.
If it's practical, place your fridge away from your cooker and make sure it isn't in direct sunlight - it will operate more efficiently if it's in a cool spot.
Keep the fridge at least 10cm from the wall, as this will allow the coils to work most efficiently. They should also be dust-free, so vacuum them every few months, but remember to unplug the fridge first.
Keep your fridge at between 3 and 5°C and your freezer at -18 °C. Maintaining these temperatures consistently will keep your food cool and you energy bills down.
Don't put hot food in the fridge - it takes more energy to cool hot food. Rather leave your hot food out in tupperware and wait for it cool first, then put it in the fridge.
Keep your fridge and freezer filled - bottles of tap water can fill empty space in the fridge, and you can fill empty space in the freezer with screwed up newspaper. Otherwise you're just cooling down air and making your fridge work much harder.
Make sure the door seals are effective and keep them clean to make sure a good seal is maintained. Door seals are the key to a good fridge but they're also the first thing likely to wear down and break, so they require your care and attention.
If your fridge doesn't defrost automatically, keep an eye out for any signs of ice and defrost it regularly. A build up of ice will stop your fridge/freezer from working effectively but it's also easily remedied.
Do you need a new fridge and/or freezer?
If your fridge and/or freezer is over ten years old, it may well be time to consider a replacement. Even if your old fridge-freezer is still working it may be worth buying a new model, whatever you pay upfront in purchasing cost could well be made up for in energy savings over the years.
High efficiency compressors, improved insulation and more accurate temperature and defrost mechanisms mean newer models are far more energy-efficient. This means your initial outlay could be offset over time by reduced running costs.
How to choose an energy-efficient fridge/freezer
Fridges and freezers like other white goods are rated according to their energy efficiency. The EU energy label grades products from A (best) to G (worst) for energy use, with the scale going up to A++ for fridges and freezers.
Top performing products carry the blue Energy Saving Recommended logo, which means the product meets strict criteria set by the government and the Energy Saving Trust. That means you can trust the energy ratings that are handed out.
But, with fridges and freezers, this isn't the only consideration. The EU A-G rating is a rating based on energy consumption per litre or cubic foot of storage, and it's easier to make a machine more efficient if it's larger. So a larger A-rated fridge may be more energy-efficient, but can consume more electricity than a smaller B-rated model.
That's why it's important to buy the smallest fridge and/or freezer you can for your needs, because typically a smaller appliance will cost you less to run. To determine running costs and to compare them across different makes and models, look at the annual consumption figure in kWh, which can also be found on the energy label. The lower this figure the more economical the fridge will be to run.
If you're choosing a new fridge and freezer it's worth remembering that a unit with the freezer on top, or underneath, the fridge is more energy-efficient than a side-by-side unit, which uses up to 20% more energy. So, if this will fit in your kitchen, it's definitely the most efficient option.
Other ways to save energy in the home
While your fridge freezer may be one of the biggest energy consumers it's by no means the only appliance in your home, and getting a more energy efficient model isn't the only way to save energy around the home.
Cooking counts for approximately 4% of your total energy bill, so the kitchen is a good place to start. Your oven naturally uses more energy than most other appliances, so getting an energy efficient model is a good start, but you can also change your habits.
Try to minimise how often you use your oven, particularly if you also have a microwave oven, turn it off at the mains when not in use, and try to leave the door open after you've used it for cooking to heat your home.
It's also worth remembering that your oven stays warm for a long time after it's finished heating, so you should be able to turn it off around 10 minutes before you finish cooking.
Similarly, when using a kettle to boil water only boil the correct amount. Why heat a whole kettle's worth for one cup of tea?
You can also change your cooking habits. Things like defrosting food in the fridge overnight instead of cooking from frozen will save cooking energy. OR, if you roast potato's try boiling them first to reduce cooking time in the oven.
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