Consumer Reports’ Happy Refrigerating Tips:

  • Clean the compressor coils every few months or so. (The coils typically are at the bottom of the appliance, though on some older models they are behind the box and on some built-ins they are behind a grille at the top of the unit.)
  • Keep gaskets on the refrigerator and freezer doors clean with mild detergent and water, not bleach. This will ensure a good seal and prevent wasted energy.
  • Check the gasket seal by closing the doors on a dollar bill; replace the gasket if the bill falls out or can be easily removed without opening the door.
  • Be sure the refrigerator is level; if not, the door might not close properly. Most refrigerators have adjustable feet or casters.
  • Before you open the door to retrieve items, decide what you want. Every time you open the door, up to 30 percent of the cooled air can escape.
  • To maximize the storage life of your food and use the least energy, keep the refrigerator temperature at 36º to 38º F and the freezer at no colder than 0º to 5º F.
  • Try to keep the refrigerator compartments full to limit temperature fluctuations.
  • If you have a choice of location when remodeling your kitchen, keep the refrigerator away from direct sunlight and heat sources.


Washing Machine

  • Remove grit from the screens where the hoses attach to the water supplies.
  • Don’t overload the washer beyond its manufacturer-recommended capacity.
  • Install the washer on a level and well-supported subfloor to prevent vibration and banging.
  • When possible, wash laundry in warm or cold water and rinse in cold.
  • Washing one large load generally requires less energy than washing two small loads.
  • Heed instructions for detergent use; too much makes the washer work harder and uses more energy.
  • Before washing heavily soiled clothes, presoak to avoid the temptation to wash twice.


Clothes Dryer

  • Clean lint filter after each use to keep air flowing freely.
  • Each year, clean the entire exhaust duct to keep it from clogging–a fire hazard. See our video special on preventing dryer fires.Video
  • If drying consecutive loads, remove clothes from one load (before folding), clear the filter, and start the next load while the dryer is still hot. This trims the energy needed to reheat the dryer.
  • Check the exhaust vent often, especially if you find the dryer isn’t sufficiently heating up or is taking longer than usual to dry.
  • Separate lightweight fabrics from heavier ones that need more drying time.
  • Generally, for appliances that don’t run constantly, as do your refrigerator and heating/cooling system, check with your electrical-power supplier about what you are charged for various levels of the day. For instance, rates might be lower at night. Then adjust, when possible, the use of your dishwasher and washer/dryer to that time of day.



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