So, this is a little embarrassing.
I’ve lived in my house for a little more than a year and a half. In that time, I’ve never cleaned the coils of my refrigerator. I didn’t even know this was a thing.
Avista’s Energy Guide recommends cleaning your refrigerator coils every three months, especially if you’re like me and have pets. My long-haired cat, Ollie, sheds a lot.
When your coils are dusty and dirty, your fridge has to work harder to maintain its temperature. This means you are using more electricity than you need to use.
I was worried this was going to be a little tough—older fridge models used to have their coils on the back, but I’m lucky. They are at the bottom of my fridge, so I didn’t need to pull the whole thing away from the wall.
Once I took off the kick plate, I was stunned by how much dust and fur were stuffed in there.
It was pretty easy. I used the crevice tool on my vacuum cleaner and started sucking the gunk out of there. You can also get a brush to help with this at any hardware store for pretty cheap.
Once it was all cleaned out, I took a look at the canister of my vacuum. Gross. I even found a magnet that never belonged to me. It seems to me that doing this once every three months is a reasonable ask. I also ran the kick plate under some hot water and scrubbed that, too.
The Energy Guide also has other useful tips to keep your refrigerator running efficiently. Since my refrigerator’s temperature control is labeled, “Off, Cold, Initial Setting, and Coldest,” I bought a cheap thermometer to keep track of the temperature. Refrigerator temperatures should be set between 37 and 40 degrees. Your freezer should be between zero and 5 degrees.
Know what you want before you open the door. Keeping the door open while you browse through the contents of your fridge means that you are letting out all of the cold air and your appliance will take longer and work harder to return to its set temperature. Before you put leftovers in the fridge, let them cool to room temperature and cover them completely. The exception to this is cooked meat. Store that in the refrigerator immediately.
You can also check to see if you need a new gasket by placing a slip of paper between the door and closing it. If the paper can slide out, you probably need to replace the gasket.
Lisa, an Avista customer, bought her 1910 house because she loved the old-world character, some of which doesn’t make her house very energy efficient. Lisa is sharing her experience on taking some simple do-it-yourself improvements to inspire others to do the same. You’ll find her stories right here every Tuesday morning.