You've been using your fridge freezer all wrong – simple mistakes that are pushing up energy bills
KEEPING your fridge freezer cool can use a lot of energy – especially as it's one of the few energy devices that is left on all the time.
And simple mistakes, like leaving the door open, or creating a mini ice age in the freezer tray, will only push up the prices you've got to pay each month.
The cost of living has rocketed for many households, with energy bills at all time highs.
Most now have to find another £700 on average to keep up with rising prices, after the energy price cap shot up on April 1.
If you're using your fridge freezer all wrong, you'll only be making the situation worse – and you might face paying more for energy.
Here are the mistakes you've been making, and how to cut costs.
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If you don't defrost your freezer compartment it could add as much as £150 a year to your bill.
The frost buildup in increases the amount of work your freezer's motor has to do.
And if the motor is working harder, then this means it's using more energy.
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You can chip away at any build up once it starts to look a little glacial inside and then your energy bill won't have to take such a hit.
All stocked up
When you have too much food in your fridge or freezer, the appliance struggles to keep all the items of food cold, and uses more energy as a result.
Experts at Energyhelpline told The Sun: "Unclutter your fridge, so make sure your fridge isn’t packed to the brim.
"Especially near the ventilating outlets as keeping space at the top and sides of your fridge helps the cool air move around easier."
But with that said you shouldn't leave it empty either.
If you haven't got any goods in the fridge then it will be working for nothing – that's especially the case when you go on holiday.
If you're off on your travels and you're leaving nothing behind, make sure to switch off the fridge, otherwise it could be wasting energy for absolutely no benefit.
If the food shop has been a bit sparse this week but you don't want your fridge over-working to stay cold, there's ways to keep it "stocked-up" without filling it with food.
Keep your fridge and freezer filled with things like bottles of tap water that will slot into the empty space.
You can also fill empty space in the freezer with screwed up newspaper.
Both DIY items can quickly freeze over – and once they do they'll keep the rest of the contents cooler, so the appliance won't have to work as hard.
Where your fridge sits in your kitchen is important.
No, it's not so much about the feng-shui, but there are spots in the kitchen that could be troublesome if you're looking at keeping coasts to a minimum.
Experts at Uswitch have said that if it's practical, place your fridge away from your cooker and make sure it isn't in direct sunlight.
That's because it's always going to operate better if it's in a cool spot.
Beside the cooker it might have to battle with heat coming off the second appliance, and the sun shining onto your fridge might impact its temperature too.
They also advised that you should also keep the fridge at least 10cm from the wall, as this will allow the coils to work most efficiently.
Experts at Repairaid say: "If your fridge doesn’t have the right ventilation, or lacks space around it, then this can drive energy efficiency down by as much as 15%."
Check seals on your fridge are in good order.
This is a bit like when you're plugging up your home from nasty draughts – you don't want either the cool air to escape or hot air to creep in.
Both scenarios are only going to make your fridge work harder, using more energy in the process.
A good way to make sure the seals are working as intended is by opening the door, holding a bit of paper where the door shuts, and then shutting it, says Which?.
If the paper can’t be pulled out whilst the door is shut, then everything is okay; but if the paper comes out, then the seals need to be sorted.
You can simply tighten the hinges if you're a dab hand at DIY or, if you have a bit of spare cash, replace the seals.
New seals are often available online for £30 to £100.
Shut that door
Keep the door shut to stop unwanted draughts too.
When you’re taking food out of the fridge, you want to get in and out as quickly as you can.
Every time the fridge door is opened, cold air escapes and warmer air enters and this exchange pushes up the temperature inside so the fridge has to work harder.
It'll use more energy to get back down to temperature and cost more on your bills.
The perfect balance
If you're going to length to make sure that no outside air is escaping or entering, you'll want to make sure the temperature inside is just right.
The energy experts at Uswitch said a good temperature to keep your fridge at is between 3 and 5°C, and for your freezer it's -18 °C.
Those temperatures are recommended to keep your food cool and at a healthy and safe level without being so cold that your fridge has to work any harder than it needs to.
That way you'll keep your energy bills down as much as possible.
If your fridge freezer is set higher or lower than this then you could make your units 5% more energy efficient for every degree you tweak.
Put it in the fridge
What you shouldn't do is put any hot food in the fridge – as it takes more energy to cool hot food.
Leave your hot food out in tupperware and wait for it cool first, then put it in the fridge.
You can also give your fridge a helping hand with regulating its temperatures by putting frozen food in the compartment to thaw out.
If you defrost your frozen food in your fridge, it can help cool the insides.
It saves the compressor a job as it will have less work to do to create the amount of energy required to keep your fridge chilled.
You shouldn't forget about the back of your fridge freezer either – it needs just as much TLC and taking the time to clean it up could save you money on your energy bills.
Dust on the condenser coils can prevent your appliance from cooling properly, and if it’s particularly thick it can reduce the efficiency by as much as 25% says Which?.
You can vacuum away the dust and dirt to get your fridge freezer working more efficiently again which should bring down your energy usage.
If your fridge freezer is an older model it probably doesn't work as well as a swanky new version, but that could also be what's adding to your bills.
Buying energy-efficient units will help you bring down costs in the long run – but they mean splashing out upfront.
Hard-up families can get free or cheap essential items such as cookers and fridges to help with those upfront costs particularly as the cost of living soars.
The donations, or discounted items, are provided by charities, non-profit organisations, the Government and some companies – as long as you meet requirements.
You may need to be on a low income, receive certain benefits or suffer from illnesses or disabilities.
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If you're struggling with covering the costs of your bills your energy provider might be able to help with a hardship grant too.
British Gas has just announced further funding for its version of the help, offering £2million more to those who are struggling, for example.
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