How to run your fridge better

How to run your fridge to save on energy bills

Open, shut them, open, shut them, give a little slap! Green fridge, green fridge, best of all – give yourself a clap!

Refrigerators may not be the household’s largest energy guzzler (that’s hot water and heating) but the appliance is the most all-consuming, churning electricity 24-7.

CSIRO authors Paul Holper and Simon Torok say fridges are the most energy-hungry household appliance, accounting for around 16 per cent of the average home’s energy usage.

Fridges more than five years old also tend to have dodgy enviro-credentials, requiring more electricity and containing more dangerous CFCs to cool our food.

Energy Australia’s Paul Myors says it can be worth outlaying more money to buy a new, four-star refrigerator as energy savings can pay for the purchase within five years.

“Anyone running a second fridge – which is likely to be old and inefficient – is better to switch it off when they don’t need it. You can waste a tonne of CO2 every year just running a second fridge,” he says.

Ecospecifier’s David Baggs says greening your refrigerator is one easy way to reduce a household’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“You’re always better to make sure the old fridge is recycled – and make sure it’s not trashed because you don’t want any of the HCFCs to escape,” he says.

Neco’s Jeremy Davies says there are three easy ways to make your fridge more efficient – make sure it’s in a cool part of the home (rather than facing a west-facing wall, which makes it work harder), vacuum the coils at the rear of the fridge every few months and check the door seals work (a piece of paper shouldn’t be able to get through).

“There are newer, more efficient fridges coming on the market all the time,” he says. “Head to and make sure you understand how much energy a fridge uses before you fork out for a new one.” It’s child’s play.



  • Set the fridge at 5 degrees
  • Open the door as little as possible and don’t overstock


  • Regularly maintain the rear coils and door seals
  • Think about installing ventilation around the floor or rear of the fridge to help it run better


  • Downsize your fridge for easy energy-saving gains
  • Switch to 100 per cent accredited green power

This article was originally published in House & Garden magazine as The Green House column.