6 ways to save money on your refrigeration bill

john-lewis-side-by-wine-openI mentioned earlier on this week that I could feel spring in the air!

We no longer need to light the fire during the daytime; we just light it after sundown when it gets chilly in the evenings.

I’ve been itching to do a spring clean, but can’t manage it just yet with the amount of soot the fire creates. However, there is nothing stopping me doing some spring maintenance!

One of the areas I’ve been focusing on is the fridge.

I rarely waste food as you know, but I’ll be honest – there were a couple of dodgy things in the fridge recently that needed throwing away, and it prompted me to do a little fridge maintenance while I was cleaning it out.

Did you know your fridge and freezer can account for 14 per cent of your household’s annual power bills? With some minor adjustments and checks you can help your fridge run more efficiently, reducing your carbon footprint and saving you money.

Keep it level

Our fridge used to be outside which meant it hardly ever came on during winter and saved us money, but now it’s getting warmer we’ve moved it back inside. This reminded me of something Small Footprints told me about: Apparently, the door should automatically swing shut instead of staying open for three good reasons:

The first is obvious – it’s so we don’t leave the door open by accident and waste precious electricity.

Secondly a level refrigerator means a better seal around the door

Finally, a level refrigerator helps drainage; and we all know how nasty it is when those little drains get blocked!

Get out a spirit level and check your fridge; does it need levelling up?


The optimum temperature inside a domestic fridge is between 0°C and 5°C which you can check with a special fridge thermometer. Some people think the lower the temperature the better, but if you set it too low, your fridge will simply be working harder than it needs to and using more electricity.

Some brands such as Hotpoint fridges have Smart Eco System technology to ensure your food is kept fresh for as long as possible. The Smart Eco System constantly checks the temperature and humidity to optimise the refrigerator’s performance via sensors and adjusts the compressor operation tailored to your usage behaviour.

No excuses!

Clean the coils

Not the easiest job I know, but take a few minutes to pull out the fridge and dust the back of the coils (use an old paintbrush or brush attachment on the vacuum cleaner).

The reason it’s important to clean off the dust is that the coils take heat from inside the fridge and send it out into the room. If they are dusty it makes the fridge less efficient as it has to work harder to cool down.

Dust bunnies be gone!

Keep it shut

The door that is.

I’ve always maintained a brilliant invention would be a fridge with a clear glass door. That way you can see what’s in there without having to stand with the door open while you rifle through.

If you have a large fridge, why not keep a whiteboard on the outside with a list of items in there so you can see at a glance what needs using up? Poor door-opening habits can increase energy use by 5 to 10 per cent so make up your mind what you’re going to eat BEFORE raiding the fridge for that midnight feast!

Full or empty?

Should you stuff you fridge full or keep it more empty?

The consensus is that you should keep your fridge reasonably full. You don’t want it so full that cold air can’t circulate, but you need it full enough to reduce the space for warm air to go in when you open the door.

If it’s coming up to shopping day and things are looking sparse, put some jugs of water in there – you’ll save running the tap for a cool drink AND you’ll be saving on your fridge running costs too.

Check the seals

Here’s a fun activity to do with the kids – give them a £5 note, get them to open the door then put the £5 note in the seal of the door.

If it drops out they get to keep it and you get a rap on the knuckles for not looking after the door seals properly. If they can pull it out you can split the difference.

In either case adjust or replace the seal until it holds that note tightly.

Rinse, repeat and let’s hope you get to keep the £5 yourself.

What about you – when was the last time you did some maintenance on your ‘fridge?


  1. Michaela on March 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Thanks Mrs Green – glad you bought up the issue of empty or full as I’ve never really known, but what you say makes sense. Love the idea of filling up with jugs of water – my son is always running the tap for ages to get cold water and it drives me crazy!

  2. Jaynie on March 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Fun idea about checking the seals. I think I’ll just use a piece of paper though 😀 I’m sure my little ‘green police’ daughter will love to try this one and see how I’ve got on. My fridge is a few years old so it will be good to check and I dread to think about the dust behind there

  3. Steve on March 8, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    I recently saw a fridge design that I’d not seen before and it made me think – why isn’t every fridge made this way. It was a full height fridge but within the main door was another smaller door that you could open to access a bottle storage are within the fridge. In our house the fridge is opened most regularly to retrieve milk for tea and or for cold drinks. This simple concept would probably save us a huge amount of energy as very little of the cold air would escape each time we went to the fridge. Brilliant! I think the model was a panasonic. Sadly, the purchase price of the fridge was astronomical and we have a perfectly ok fridge but I just thought it was a great design idea. One day, maybe all fridges will be made this way.

  4. Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking on March 9, 2012 at 1:10 am

    Wow I didn’t know some of these things! You are such a world of great information!! I love reading your posts and wanted to know if it is okay with you if I spotlight your blog on one of my posts this coming week.

  5. Mrs Green on March 12, 2012 at 6:00 am

    @Michaela: You’re welcome Michaela, enjoy that cold water!

    @Jaynie: How did you get on? All dusted now and well fitting seals?

    @Steve: What a fab idea Steve and when I think about it, we too, use milk and juice regularly throughout the day. Hmmmm, something to ponder on…

    @Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking: Of course it is Alicia; I’d be honoured – thank you for thinking of us 🙂

  6. elsie button on March 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I LOVE the idea of a fridge with a clear door – brilliant!

  7. Mrs Green on March 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    @elsie button: People keep telling me it wouldn’t work due to condensation but I’m sure there was a HUGE one on a movie I saw this week!!