Get the most out of your fridge freezer (and save money) with a few practical hints and tips.
The fridge freezer is the white good godsend par excellence for the majority of modern homes. The bastion of chilled and frozen foodstuffs, it keeps our produce fresh and edible.
But it’s so easy to open the door and plunge into its icy depths to pluck out a bottle of milk or bag of frozen sausage rolls, we often forget how important and indispensable an appliance it is.
And like all much-cherished appliances, it often needs some thought and a spot of TLC to get the most out of it and to ensure serves us well for the years ahead. We can get the most out of the fridge freezer two-fold: firstly, reduce the amount of electricity it chews up (which it does, like it’s going out of fashion), and secondly, reduce the amount of fridge food we throw away.
These hints and techniques are effective ways for savvy savers – and just sensible, pragmatic home owners – to cut back on these costs with very little effort.
Clean the coils
The coils at the back and bottom of the fridge are prone to gather dust, and as the dust builds up, it prevents the refrigerator from running as effectively. As a result, the condenser kicks in more often, it has to work harder to generate a sufficiently cool temperature, it chomps into more energy, and wears out more quickly.
A spot of minor maintenance work once a year or so will go a long way. Pull out the fridge and wipe the dust off the coils and underneath the appliance. A low-power vacuum is also a good way to suck out any excess dust. This will be better for the condenser and make it work more effectively.
Fill empty milk cartons with water and freeze them
Any fridge or freezer always works best when it’s full, as the cold items keep other items cold and maintain a consistently low temperature. The question remains, of course, how can you keep it full with food you may or may not eat? The answer is simple: if you’re not going to fill it with food then fill it with water.
Rinse out an empty milk carton, three-quarters fill it with tap water and pop it in the freezer. This will help keep the freezer temperature low and reduce the amount of times it has to kick in, thus saving power.
And when they’re frozen, how about using them for when you need ice? Smash them open and use the chunks of ice for your drinks.
Start a veggie box
How often have you cooked vegetables that you couldn’t finish and ended up throwing them away? Yep, thought so.
A particularly ingenious solution is to keep a small, re-sealable container in the freezer and, when you have some leftover veggies, just spoon them into the container and re-freeze. When the container’s full you’ve got enough to dice up some chicken breasts, make some stock, throw in the leftover veg and make a fantastic stew or soup.
As the old maxim goes: waste not, want not – you’re preventing unnecessary food wastage, keeping your freezer nicely stocked up, and saving the pennies as well.
A few inches matter
Most people push the fridge freezer as far back to the wall as they possibly can – and this is understandable as it saves what is very often valuable space. But those few inches can be quite expensive. Just by pulling your fridge freezer back from the wall by one inch can reduce the energy consumption by up to 40%.
Put a thermometer in the fridge
The ideal temperature for your fridge should be around 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (3-5C). Having it lower than 37 degrees means it’s pushing against the freezing point of water, and this uses up a lot of extra energy and can affect the quality of the food.
The best way, then, to know exactly the temperature of your fridge is to get a thermometer, pop it in a glass of water, and put it in the fridge for 24 hours. This will give you the true temperature of your fridge – and if it’s too high or too low, adjust it as necessary.
A freezer has a different peak temperature of 0 to 5F (-18 to -15 C), and popping a thermometer between two frozen items for 24 hours will give you an accurate temperature reading.
Get rid of those refrigerated leftovers
We’ve all been guilty of throwing leftovers at the back of the fridge and rediscovering them a few weeks later as the breeding ground for a new and unpleasant looking eco-system. The fungus and moulds that grow on them, however, can contaminate other food – so throw them out!
These are just a few sensible and practical techniques to get the most out of your fridge freezer. Have you got any other hints and tips? Share in the comments.
Image by: Celeste Lindell