Did you know your appliances are talking to you? Really, they are! Did you also know you can also learn an awful lot by listening to them? Really, you can! You can find out how much electricity you’re using — and how much money you’re spending, too! To highlight what customers can discover with Direct Energy’s Direct Your Energy Insights Tool, we’re going to dig into some of the lesser-known ways your appliances affect your electric bill. By learning more about your electricity usage, you’ll use less of what we sell!
What is My Refrigerator Trying to Tell Me?
Except for central air conditioning systems, refrigerators are among the biggest users of energy in the home. The larger the fridge, the more energy it uses. Currently, more than 60 million refrigerators are over 10 years old, costing consumers $4.4 billion a year in energy costs. That’s why the 800 pound monster in your kitchen wants to tell you something.
The two things most fridges want to tell their owners is that it will save you money if it runs less and if there’s plenty of air flow both outside and inside.
Sealed Fridges Run Less Often
Refrigerators stay cold longer when the warmer outside air is kept outside. Every time somebody opens the doors, a lot of that cold airs falls out of the fridge and warm air flows inside. The less cold air that stays inside the fridge, the longer and more often the refrigerator will need to run to bring the inside temperature to its set level.
While keeping the door closed sounds like a no-brainer, it also seem impractical when you’re standing with the door open trying to decide what to have to for lunch or snack on while binge watching.
The trick here is to organize your fridge so that you know where everything is kept before you open the door. For example, food stored in the door experiences the most thermal fluctuation. So, keep grab-n-go drinks and snacks in the door. The things you want to stay at a more stable temperature of around 40°F, like fruit juices, berries, adult beverages, eggs, perishable left-overs—keep those in the center of the main compartment.
You also want to make sure the door seals when it closes. Check the door seals for cracks and dirt. If you see signs of mold or mildew forming on the seals, that’s a good sign of a leak. Usually, however, it’s easy to fix just by cleaning the gasket seal with a little kitchen cleaner. The door should seal firmly enough to trap a dollar bill —be sure to check this all the way around the door.
Air Flow Increases Efficiency
Keeping the air flowing outside and inside your refrigerator helps it work more efficiently.
Outside Air Flow— While keeping your fridge’s condenser coils spotless is probably a waste of time, clean them at least yearly to remove thick coats of dust and pet hair and to prevent further build up. Many newer refrigerators now use small plastic fans to help circulate air among the condenser coils and over time, the blades can pick up dust and pet dander. This makes the blades vibrate and make noise when they spin and somewhat reduces their efficiency. Wiping off the blades with a cloth and some cleaner takes care of this.
Also, make sure there’s 3 inches of room between the back of the refrigerator and the wall to ensure there’s enough space for air flow away from the condenser coils.
Inside Air Flow —Air movement inside your fridge is crucial because it’s used to keep humidity and temperature uniform. If air flow is blocked, some parts of your refrigerator will begin trapping humidity and create ice buildups. This makes it harder for temperatures to keep uniform and makes your fridge run longer. Left unchecked, it leads to runaway ice formation, water leaking out from the fridge, increased mold problems, and ultimately a service call.
Preventing this is so easy. Don’t overload your fridge or your freezer so that items block vents in the back. Clean and maintain your fridge and freezer regularly and remember to toss out the things you don’t use, don’t like, or no longer need.
Want to know how you can save even more?
Customers who sign up with a Direct Energy plan can get complete access to the Energy Insights Tool to help them monitor their usage and take more control of bill. If you’re a Texas resident, you can save even more by signing up with Direct Energy’s Free Weekends. From Friday at 6 PM to Sunday at 11:59pm, you’ll get FREE electricity. Just by switching to Direct Energy and saving your laundry for the weekend, you’ll really clean up!