A refrigerator is an important appliance in most households. It is the second highest guzzler of electricity, after air conditioners, consuming as much as 15% of electricity in typical urban households.

Most refrigerators are sold along with information about annual power consumption, which includes the minimum number of units that the refrigerator will consume; these numbers are derived under controlled conditions. The actual units depend on how the refrigerator is used and maintained. Purchasing a BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency) five-star-rated refrigerator is useful, but along with that, several operating procedures should be taken care of so as to ensure efficient usage. Some procedures are as follows:

  • Loading of the refrigerator is an important criterion for conserving power. The power consumed by the refrigerator will be high if it is overloaded or underutilized. In an overloaded refrigerator, the compressor takes more time to reduce the temperature in the refrigerator. A semi-loaded refrigerator indicates that the refrigerator may be too big for the household’s needs. Instead of keeping the refrigerator empty, one can place a jug of water to prevent the escape of cold air.

  • A refrigerator should be loaded with adequate spacing between utensils - this will allow cold air to circulate easily and help the compressor work efficiently.

  • Unnecessary opening of the door lets in hot air into the refrigerator. This increases the load on the compressor and simultaneously on the power consumption.

  • Placing hot food items in the fridge affects its efficiency; the nutritive value of food may be lost if placed hot in a refrigerator. 

  • Energy consumption can increase by about 10% for each degree of decrease in temperature. For optimum cooling, the temperature should be set at the medium level. Recommended temperature for the freezer is -18° C (0℉) and for refrigerator, 3° C (36℉).

  • Defrosting regularly can prolong efficiency. If the frost size increases, it acts as unwanted insulation and affects the efficiency of the condenser.

  • The refrigerator should be placed in ventilated surroundings for better power consumption. If placed near the wall or near a heat emitting device such as microwave oven, gas stove etc., the temperature may increase by 5⁰ C and hence the power consumption also increases by 40%. A gap between the refrigerator and the wall should be maintained as mentioned in most user manuals.

  • Compressor load can be minimised with the help of a well-insulated door (door should remain airtight when closed) and avoiding unnecessarily opening of the door.

  • Dust-free air coils (rear portion of the old model of refrigerators) can easily release the heat and minimise the load of the condenser.

  • Moist air from uncovered food/ liquid will have a negative impact on the compressor. Covering the food will not only protect the food but also conserve power.

If you are someone who cares about energy consumption to run a refrigerator, then pursue the above procedures and conserve energy!