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Cleaning and Packing your Refrigerator for Optimum Energy Efficiency

Following our recent series of social media posts on cleaning tips that not only make your home sparkle, but also improve energy efficiently.
To kick off this blog, and in the interest of completeness, we will first re-cap on the best way to clean and deodorise your refrigerator.

Clean your fridge regularly to reduce your energy bills
Your fridge is actually one of the top energy guzzlers in your home, so keeping it running efficiently will help reduce your energy bills. You should do a full empty and clean twice a year to keep it in good condition. When you do this, remove your fridge from its location and unplug it.
You might need a cup of tea at this stage to recover from the shock of what you found under and behind the appliance, but then you can get to work, vacuuming and wiping down the floor, walls and out outside of your refrigerator. Imagine the bacteria build up you are also removing from your kitchen, which can only be a good thing.
While the fridge is out of its enclosure, you can clean the coils, which is actually one of the most important things you can do to save energy and boost efficiency.
Depending on your model, the coils might be immediately evident, or they may be protected with a removable panel. First use your vacuum hose to remove dust and fluff, then wipe over with a dry cloth.
Remember when you push your appliance back into place to leave a little space between the back of the fridge and the wall to allow air to circulate better.

So now your fridge is empty, gleaming and fresh, let’s turn our attention to packing it for optimal energy efficiency and organisation, so you can actually find what you’re looking for.

Packing your fridge and freezer
Contrary to popular belief, your fridge and freezer don’t need to be packed to the gills to reduce energy usage. It’s all about balance – whether there’s too much, or too little space inside, your appliance won’t run as efficiently, which means you could be unnecessarily wasting energy (and, just as importantly, your hard-earned cash).
The trick is to attempt to keep both your refrigerator and freezer around three quarters full at all times. Here’s why…
Because the food in your fridge or freezer has already been cooled, it helps keep the other items cold when you open the door and introduce warm air. So if you don’t keep your fridge and freezer full enough, they need to work much harder to maintain their temperature every time you open the door.
Conversely, the opposite is true – though it’s tempting to do a huge weekly shop and stock up the fridge, try not to overfill. Too much food stuffed inside is going to restrict air flow and, can also block air vents, that will keep the appliance from properly cooling its contents. This can cause your food to spoil as some items can’t stay cold enough. When your fridge is packed too tightly, you’ll find that food and certain areas of your appliance achieve differing levels of refrigeration. You’ve probably noticed that sometimes certain items go off more quickly than you expect, but probably put it down to a duff product.
If you’re noticing your fridge is always full to the brim, it may be more energy-efficient to invest in a larger one.
For our refrigerator-packing guidance, we like to use commercial kitchens as a model, because they organize their fridges with food safety, efficiency and speed (of locating items) in mind. They do this by separating foods according the temperature food should be cooked to.
We can start with things that need no cooking at all, placing them at the top, then everything else is organized vertically based on respective cooking temperatures, for example, raw meat.
This method of organisation ensures that any accidental cross-contamination won’t be a problem because the food that’s contaminated has to be cooked to a higher temperature than the food sitting above it that may have dripped down.
With modern fridges, however the drawers typically used to hold fruit and vegetables are at the bottom.
So you can adopt the tiered approach on your shelves and reserve the drawers for your veg as usual.
Of you could consider using the drawers for meat and fish and invest in some storage containers to house fruit and veg on the upper shelves.
Maybe give it a try and see how it works out for you.

Here’s a rough outline of the tiers:
1. Upper shelves: Drinks, yoghurt, cheese, deli items that require no cooking.
2. Lower shelves: Raw ingredients for cooked dishes.
3. Door: This is the warmest part of the fridge and should be reserved for bottled water, soft drinks and condiments. You probably put your milk here, but it’s not really cold enough, and should be placed in a colder part of the refrigerator.
4. Drawers: See notes above.
If you have any other solutions that work for you and you’d like to share them we’d love to hear from you 

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