Get refrigerator ready for the holidays

If Thanksgiving or Christmas will be celebrated at your house this year, your family members aren’t the only ones who will be stuffed. So will your refrigerator. 

Is it up to the task? 

In fact, if your fridge is more than a decade old, it might not be. Today’s models—those bearing the Energy Star label, at least—use at last 15 percent less energy than current federal standards require, and 40 percent less than models in the early 2000s, according to the Department of Energy.  

Yet more than 60 million households have refrigerators that are more than 10 years old, DOE says. By replacing it with a new, energy-efficient model, you could save up to $300 in electricity charges over its lifetime. 

When shopping for a new refrigerator or freezer, read the EnergyGuide label. It tells you how many kilowatt-hours of electricity the unit will consume over a year of operation. The smaller the number, the better. Look for refrigerators that have a freezer on the bottom or the top, as side-by-side designs consume more energy. Chest freezers are typically better insulated than upright models.  

Whether you’re buying a new fridge this year or not, follow these tips for more efficient use around the holidays: 

  • Brush or vacuum your refrigerator’s coils regularly to improve efficiency by as much as 30 percent. 
  • Keeping your refrigerator full shouldn’t be hard this time of year and doing so will help your unit retain cold better. If you have trouble keeping it stocked, fill the extra space with bottles or containers of water.
  • If your milk is frosty in the morning, reduce the refrigerator’s temperature. Refrigerators should be set between 36 degrees and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezers should stay between 0 degrees and 5 degrees.
  • Put a dollar bill in the door’s seal to see if it is airtight. If the dollar slips out easily, so will cold air.  
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