Try These Fridge and Freezer Tips to Save Some Money

You might not realize it, but your fridge and freezer could be costing you hundreds of dollars in wasted energy every year. In fact, they’re one of the biggest energy consumers out of all your appliances, running constantly 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

But don’t worry. There are some easy tricks you can use to cut down on wasted electricity and keep these energy gobblers functioning to their full potential. We’ve rounded up some of the best tips and tricks for saving money in the fridge and freezer. You could save more than $100 per year by implementing just a few of these simple tricks and saving wasted energy!

1. Pull the fridge forward 1 inch

Silver fridge with side-by-side door system

Pulling a fridge forward allows for better air circulation, keeping it cooler. | iStock.com/Grassetto

You’ve probably heard by now that decorators recommend against shoving your furniture up against the wall. But did you know this rule also applies to your fridge? Although your natural tendency might be to push the fridge as far back as it will go, you can reduce energy usage by up to 40% by pulling it forward 1 little inch.

Next: Maximize efficiency with a little bit of organization.

2. Organize the fridge properly

Refrigerator full of healthy food

There should be a method behind your fridge organization. | iStock.com/Olesiabilkei

Keep your fridge well-organized, and put each of your food items where they’re supposed to go for maximum efficiency. Here are some basic rules:

  • Keep condiments and juice in the door, the warmest part of the fridge. Never store milk in the door.
  • The top shelves are decently cold, so keep ready-made foods and leftovers there.
  • The lower shelves are the coldest spot in your fridge. This is where you should store your dairy and raw meat.
  • Keep produce in the crisper drawers and deli meat in the meat drawer.

Next: An overfilled fridge could cost you. 

3. Don’t overpack the fridge

Refrigerator full of food

Make sure you’ll use everything in your fridge. | iStock.com/Belchonock

Unlike the freezer, your fridge requires air circulation to keep food cold. To make sure you’re not overstuffing yours, schedule regular cleanings. Get rid of any expired condiments or questionable leftovers. Try to cut back on what you’re buying at the grocery store, and only keep on hand the items you plan on using in one or two weeks.

Next: When’s the last time you checked your coils?

4. Clean the coils for maximum efficiency

External air-cooled condenser used in water cooler or refrigerator

Dust builds up on your refrigerator’s coils. | iStock.com/LightCooker

Think about all the dust and debris you sweep up on a daily basis. Now imagine all the dust you don’t see: Those little particles are sticking to the coils under and behind your refrigerator. When dust builds up, your fridge has to work harder to stay cool, resulting in a lot of wasted electricity.

To combat this and noticeably reduce your electric bill, take the coils out regularly to give them a thorough cleaning. Your condenser won’t need to run as often. Plus, a well-maintained fridge lasts longer, saving you money on replacing it.

Next: This simple trick for leftovers saves energy. 

5. Always keep food covered

Leftovers in tupperware

Covering food limits the amount of moisture in the fridge. | iStock.com/JoeBelanger

Covering food helps to retain moisture and preserve freshness, which helps to reduce waste. But did you know the simple act of putting leftovers in containers can also help reduce energy usage? Limiting the amount of moisture helps to reduce how hard your fridge’s compressor has to work to keep your food cold, too.

Next: Could your warm fridge be costing you?

6. Maintain a steady temperature

thermometor marked "food zone" from 34 to 40 degrees

The wrong temperature could mean dangerously spoiled food. | iStock.com/Trekandshoot

Your fridge might have a built-in thermometer. But if it doesn’t, you can purchase one cheaply and use it to make sure the fridge and freezer are always spot on. A fridge that’s too cold wastes energy, and one that’s too warm can make your foods spoil faster.

Your refrigerator operates best between 37 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and your freezer should always be at about 5 degrees Fahrenheit. To test freezer temperature, place the thermometer between two frozen items for at least 24 hours.

Next: This simple trick can save serious money at the grocery store.

7. Label everything

Leftover containers of food in a refrigerator

Know what’s in there. | iStock.com/JoeBelanger

You should clearly label everything in your fridge and freezer, so cleaning doesn’t have to be a huge chore. Make it a quick daily task to go through everything and toss old leftovers, expired condiments, and anything you know you or your family won’t eat. Knowing what you have helps to prevent overbuying groceries, and keeping the fridge less full helps it function better, too.

One great hack: Purchase a lazy Susan for the fridge, so you can easily access all your lesser-used items, such as condiments.

Next: You know what you have, but make sure you know how long it’s been there to prevent this common problem.

8. Prevent freezer burn

Fresh summer berries

Don’t let freezer burn ruin your food. | iStock.com/Izhairguns

Freezer burn ruins food, which is a real waste. The best way to prevent it is to maintain the proper temperature in the freezer. To reduce risk of freezer burn, try to refrain from leaving the door standing open too long, which can mess with the temperature. Also, be sure to do regular freezer cleaning, and don’t leave anything sitting in your freezer for too long.

Next: The size of this appliance could make a huge difference. 

9. Consider a smaller fridge

Kitchenette with all appliances

Smaller fridges often use less energy. | iStock.com/Baloncici

The bigger-is-better mindset doesn’t always have to apply. If you have a gigantic fridge but can never find anything to eat, or spend too much time digging through lots of stuff you never use, it might be time to downsize. A smaller fridge costs less to run, and it will also force you to spend less at the grocery store, encouraging you to only buy what you need. Less food wasted equals more money saved.

Next: This simple storage trick makes life easier — and saves you money. 

10. Store leftovers in clear containers

storage plastic containers

You can see exactly what you have with clear containers. | iStock.com/Ebolyukh

It’s a simple yet effective trick. The more easily you can see what leftovers you have, the more likely you are to eat them. You should still label everything with dates, but beyond that be sure to invest in clear plastic or glass storage containers to house all your leftover food items. Reusable containers are also better for the environment because you won’t be throwing them away like plastic bags and foil.

Next: This bad habit wastes a whole lot of energy. 

11. Don’t linger with the door open

woman standing near open empty fridge

Know what you want when you open the fridge. | iStock.com/Dima_sidelnikov

It’s true what your mama told you: The longer you stand there staring into the fridge, the more everything inside will warm up.  The result is a harder-working fridge that wastes a ton of energy. To reduce the amount of time you need to spend standing around with the door open, keep everything in the fridge labeled, organized, and accessible.

Next: You may not know this money-saving leftover trick.

12. Freeze leftovers instead of tossing them

Frozen food in the refrigerator

Remember: You can freeze leftovers, too. | iStock.com/BravissimoS

Love them or hate them, eating leftovers is a simple, effective way to make the most of all the money you spend on groceries. But even if you don’t get to them in a timely fashion, you still don’t have to throw them out. Put leftovers in the freezer instead of throwing them away, and save them for those nights when you can’t think of what to make for dinner.

Next: Check out this overlooked part of the fridge for even more money saving.

13. Check your seals

hand opening a freezer door

You might be losing a lot of energy with the seals. | iStock.com/Lolostock

Older fridges might have deteriorating or torn seals, which means tons of warm outside air is seeping inside, forcing your fridge to work harder. Periodically check your seals to see whether you need to replace them. It’s cheaper than buying a new fridge or continuously wasting money on unnecessary energy consumption.

Next: Doing this may warm up everything in the fridge. 

14. Never put hot items inside

casserole with cheese and zucchini

Let food cool before storing it. | iStock.com/Azurita

Before you stash those piping-hot leftovers, let them sit on the counter for a while to reach room temperature. Putting hot foods directly into cold raises the temperature on everything inside the fridge, which makes the appliance work harder to cool it back down again.

Next: Your freezer will stay super cold when you do this cheap thing.

15. Keep frozen jugs of water in the freezer

Plastic bottle of drinking water

A frozen water bottle makes your freezer not have to work as hard. | iStock.com/Azure-Dragon

Here’s a little known fact: Freezers actually work better when they’re full because they don’t have to work as hard to keep contents frozen. But even if you’re not packing your freezer full of food, you can still enjoy the benefits of keeping it stocked to full capacity.

To accomplish this, get a regular water jug, and fill it ¾ full of water. Store it right in the freezer alongside with your food to keep the temperature nice and low, which helps your freezer to kick on less often and reduces energy consumption.