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Save on Electricity: Store Cold Energy in Your Refrigerator

written by: Jennifer Claerr•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 5/22/2011

If you're trying to reduce your electricity bill, storing cold energy in your refrigerator can help. It costs practically nothing to get started, and you can use recycled materials in the process.

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    Basics on Saving Energy in Your Refrigerator

    We all know that we can store electricity in batteries. However, storing cold energy is a much cheaper and more efficient way to save energy in your home. When you have lots of empty space in your refrigerator, it must work that much harder to keep your food cold. Every time you open the refrigerator door, cold air escapes and the food gets warmer. However, a well-stocked refrigerator uses far less electricity than one that's nearly empty.

    The average refrigerator costs about $25 per month to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Going out and buying a new energy-efficient refrigerator isn't an option for most people in these difficult economic times. If you use eco-friendly methods to store cold inside the refrigerator, you could reduce your electricity use and save a few dollars effortlessly every single month. This is because liquids and solids such as water and ice are much more effective at storing cold energy than air. When you open your refrigerator door, the cold escapes much more slowly.

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    Cheap Materials to Save Electricity in the Refrigerator

    To start saving on the electricity that your refrigerator uses, you'll need to gather some cheap materials. If you buy milk, water or vinegar in gallon bottles, you can recycle the bottles to store cold energy in the refrigerator. However, if you have smaller plastic bottles, these can be very effective for filling up small gaps of unused space inside the refrigerator and freezer. If you're careful, you can also use glass bottles filled with water to store cold energy in your refrigerator.

    If you like, you could also get some inexpensive gel-filled ice packs to fill in small areas of empty space. These ice packs are generally available at your local dollar store or supermarket for low prices. If you're using bottles, rinse them out and then fill them with water. This method is very similar to keeping the refrigerator as full of food as possible, but it's easier and less expensive. When the refrigerator door is opened, less cold energy will be wasted because the cold is being stored in water rather than in air. Also, your food will stay cold longer in the event that the electric power fails. If you need the space to store food again, simply remove the cold pack from the refrigerator.

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    Storing Cold Energy in the Refrigerator

    Place the bottles filled with water inside the refrigerator where there tends to be empty space. An excellent place to put them is at the back of the refrigerator on the top shelves. Also place a few bottles in the door. Then place a large bottle or two in the freezer if you tend not to store very much food there. If the freezer is mostly full, use some smaller bottles or use the flat, rectangular ice packs.

    Make sure that you only fill these bottles about three quarters of the way full, since the water will expand when it freezes. If the weather outside is very cold, you can put the bottles outside to freeze before placing them in the refrigerator. The bottles of water and ice packs will help to keep the refrigerator at a more constant temperature, saving electricity. If you use milk bottles to store cold energy in your refrigerator, be sure to mark them with a note to remind yourself and your family members not to drink the water. Make sure that there's still some room in the refrigerator for air to circulate around the food and bottles of water.

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    Saving Electricity and Money When You're Away from Home

    When you go out of the house on trips, you can use these ice packs to keep your food cold. The water and vinegar bottles in particular make perfect ice packs for long trips, because the single large block of ice melts at a much slower rate than ice cubes. If you plan to be away from home for more than a day, replace the ice bottles and packs you remove from the refrigerator with new bottles of water.

    Also, if you need to store more food in the freezer, move the ice packs down to the refrigerator section to help keep food cold. Avoid entirely removing the cold packs from the refrigerator if possible, as this will cause the cold energy to be wasted. Also, be sure to use other methods to reduce the electricity consumption of your refrigerator on a regular basis. For example, clean the coils in back and underneath the refrigerator every three or four months, and replace the gasket when it becomes worn out. Using these tips can help you reduce your electricity consumption with very little money and effort. Try them, and your home will be greener in no time.