Frugal Living: How to Make Any Fridge More Efficient in 5 Steps

(Image credit: Sub-Zero)

Want to know how to make your fridge run as smoothly as possible, to save energy (and you money) in the long run? We’ve got five things you can try today to make your fridge more efficient.

What You Need

Equipment and Tools

  • Refrigerator
  • Vacuum with a hose attachment
  • Appliance thermometer


1. Keep it clean. We’re talking inside and out. Here’s an in-depth look at cleaning the inside (including how to save energy while doing so): How To Clean the Inside of Your Fridge in 30 Minutes or Less.

2. Keep it full. If you’re rocking a beer-and-mustard-only fridge, consider unplugging it and investing in a much smaller model. Alternately, consider stocking your fridge well. That way your appliance is not using energy to just keep air inside of it cool.

3. As for the outside, this is where the vacuum comes in. Vacuum the coils. Using a vacuum fitted with a hose attachment, make sure to keep the coils clean. Once a year is all it takes.

4. Speaking of coils, check the placement of your fridge. It needs about two inches of clearance in the back to allow proper room for ventilation.

5. Check and monitor the temperature. Using an appliance thermometer, keep an eye on the temperature over the course of a week to make sure it remains steady, between 38 and 41 degrees is fine for the fridge.

Additional notes: A few other energy-saving tips: as tempting as it may be, don’t store stuff on top of the fridge: it could get in the way of ventilation (and yes, we’re moving our fruit basket right this minute!). For more tips, check out this post.

Re-edited from a post originally published 2.26.10 – AB