The refrigerator is America’s most popular appliance. It makes sense: the need to preserve food with spices is, in large part, what drove Columbus across the ocean blue. But are you getting the most out of your favorite appliance? Studies have shown that a significant percentage of Americans (particularly those who own more than one fridge) throw hundreds of dollars away each year on excess refrigeration. We want to help you make your home as efficient as possible. Here are three easy ways to increase your refrigerator’s efficiency.



1. Keep Your Fridge Around 75% Full


When your refrigerator hits the just-right proportion of 75 percent full, your stored foods team up with your refrigerator in a really cool way. The foodstuff, cooled to a low temperature, actually helps maintain the chilly ecosystem of the fridge when the door is opened and warm air rushes in. But be careful! Overstuffing limits air circulation, causing the unit to work with less efficiency.



2. Set Temperatures to That Goldilocks Level


Most refrigerators should be set between 37 and 40 degrees in the main section, and 0 to 5 degrees in the freezer. If you keep your food too warm, you can lose the cooling effect described in tip #1. If you cool your food too much, you are losing out on energy efficiency. In order to increase your refrigerator’s efficiency, check your owner’s manual to be sure these settings are appropriate for your unit.



3. Keep Up Your General Maintenance


Experts say that at least twice a year you should unplug your unit briefly to rid the condenser coils of dust. Once the unit is unplugged, use a long brush or the crevice attachment on your vacuum cleaner. If the condenser coils aren’t cleaned, the buildup of dust can keep heat from being dispelled and cause your unit to overheat.


Regular cleaning can dramatically increase the life of your refrigerator.


It is also important to keep the inside of your refrigerator clean. Everyone is familiar with those puddles of mystery food that form in our fridges over time; cleaning will keep your food odor-free and fresh-tasting. Every two months be sure to wipe down the inside of your refrigerator with a safe and effective baking soda and water solution.