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Want to Lower Your Power Bill? Clean Your Fridge – CNET

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Unfortunately, this task calls for more than throwing out last year's salad dressing.
Regularly cleaning your fridge doesn't just keep funky smells out of your food. It can lower your power bills.
Your fridge is gross. Your power bill is high. Solving the first problem might help you just a bit with the second.
This might take more than just throwing out the takeout noodles you never got around to eating last month. No, your fridge likely has deeper issues that are making it less energy-efficient. 
"People never clean their fridge, both inside and out," said Nicholas Rajkovich, a professor at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo. "That can have a big impact on the efficiency of it."
And while your refrigerator isn't the biggest user of energy in your home — in the average home, it's just under 4% of energy use, well below heating and cooling — every kilowatt-hour saved is one you don't have to pay for.
Here's what you should clean to keep things running smoothly.
Your first step (and this isn't about saving energy) is to throw out all the expired food in your fridge. That's a safety thing. 
As far as efficiency goes, you want to make sure air is flowing through your fridge and freezer effectively. "A lot of fridges, especially fridges that have a freezer on the top, there's a duct in the back of the freezer that can get clogged up with ice. When that gets clogged up with ice it can cause your freezer to run a lot harder," says Rajkovich.
If your refrigerator has a freezer attached, check all the vents and holes inside of it for ice buildup. If you have a lot of ice buildup, that could be a sign of a bigger problem, like a poor seal around the door that's letting in humid air.
In your refrigerator, make sure any vents are clear and not obstructed by something like a big milk carton. While your fridge runs more efficiently when it's fairly full, it still requires some airflow.
Condenser coils are what make a refrigerator work. They transfer heat from the inside, where the cold food is, to the outside. They need to be clean to work properly.
With a newer refrigerator, this may be as simple as clearing any dust from vents. It really depends on the model.
When cleaning the coils, be sure to follow the directions included in your refrigerator's manual. (You did keep that, right?) Generally, it'll go something like this:
If you have a really old fridge and it's time to replace it, consider a model that uses less energy to begin with. Energy Star-certified refrigerators are about 9% more efficient than those that meet the minimum federal requirements. 
Here are some other tips from the federal Energy Star program about getting and maintaining an efficient fridge:
Looking for other ways to save on energy costs? Consider unplugging some appliances or evaluating how you set your thermostat.


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