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Refrigerators are a major energy hog in your home. The average, well-running refrigerator uses about 725 kilowatts per hour (kWh) to operate. By opening the door while loading groceries or looking for a snack, you could be wasting up to 7% of this energy by letting the cooled air escape. When the cooled air escapes, the refrigerator’s compressor needs to replenish it. This means that your refrigerator needs to run longer than it normally would to pump more cooled air in. Leaving your door open wastes 50 to 120 kWh each year. That amount of energy would let you wash your clothes once a week for a year.

This is not only costing you more energy and money, but it’s taxing on your refrigerator. The compressor is the most expensive part of a refrigerator to replace. They can cost anywhere between $85 and $250 for the part plus the cost of labor if you hire someone to replace it. By keeping your refrigerator doors closed, as well as dusting or vacuuming the condenser coils, you will prolong the life of your refrigerator. Even if your doors are closed, if the rubber seal is worn out, you could be wasting energy as well. Hold a thin piece of paper near the seal to see if it flutters at all, or close the seal on the piece of paper and tug on it lightly. If the paper comes out easily, your seals may need replacing.

Keep foods stored in the fridge covered. The moisture in foods escapes into the fridge, which the compressor actively tries to remove. It’s also a good idea to let hot food cool down as much as possible before storing it in the fridge. If your refrigerator is typically rather bare, fill the extra space with sealed bottles or jugs of water. The cold water will keep the temperature low, keeping the compressor from running as much. This is another good way to keep your energy use low.

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