Sunday, November 7, 2010

Freezers, Fridges, Electricity Use... and Toddlers

Haier 3.9 Cu Ft Fridge W Full Sz Freezer BlackOur refrigerator has seen better days... It was good to us while it lasted, and we got it for an unbeatable bargain (a story in and of itself- shared below), but all good things must come to an end...
Fortunately, our fridge isn't on its last legs or anything, it just is not as good as it used to be. Let me explain.
When we first moved into our new apartment, sans dryer, sans fish tanks, and sans an extra bedroom, I was thrilled to get our lowest electric bill ever for the first bi-monthly period. 
The next billing period was somewhat higher, but that was explainable due to the exorbitantly high temperatures this summer, and our electric bill was tremendously lower than that of everyone else I knew because we had no AC and hence used other keep cool methods.

But when the bill for these past two month's electrical usage arrived the other day and I saw that it was even higher than the previous one, I was quite perplexed. Why?
Was it because I've been baking more than usual? Was it because I used my crock pot overnight twice? Was it because we turned on the little vent in our windowless room because we were line drying laundry in there? The answer eluded us.
Eventually I realized what the cause was of our higher electric bill. Our fridge and freezer.

14 month old Spike has become quite rambunctious as of late finds more and more new ways of making trouble lately. His new favorite toy- opening the refrigerator!
If that wasn't bad enough, the magnet that holds the freezer door shut doesn't seem to be working as well anymore. If you close the refrigerator door with any force, the freezer pops open about an inch. After opening the refrigerator, Spike's next most favorite thing is to slam it shut. And open pops the freezer door.
Only I didn't realize it!

Countless times in the past 2 weeks I noticed that my freezer door wasn't shut properly. It looked shut, but the food in the freezer door was melted and the freezer was covered in frost. (Our freezer is frost free.) Or, I'd be standing at the stove next to my fridge/freezer and feel a breeze blowing on me... and notice the partially open freezer door!
I thought at first that I had overstuffed the freezer, causing it to pop open... but even once I emptied it out partially and nothing was blocking it from closing, I would still find it partially open.
And then one day I slammed the fridge shut, and saw the freezer pop open a good 6 inches or so...
And then it dawned on me!
Ka-ching! That was the cause of the higher electric bill! With no way of keeping the cool air inside, the freezer motor was working constantly, trying to cool down the room temperature air that kept on replacing the cold air inside. Spike's constantly playing with the fridge caused a higher electric bill, and the open freezer door upped it tremendously more.
Problem solved.
Sort of.
Not gonna spend money on replacing that magnet part.
On the to-do list is to buy velcro to baby proof the fridge and freezer shut. In the meantime, I'm making sure that the freezer door stays shut by closing the door more gently and closing the freezer door after Spike slams the fridge door shut.

First two ways to lower your electric bill with the fridge and freezer:
1. Baby proof so your kids don't open the fridge.
2. Make sure the freezer door stays shut.

Two other ways to lower your electric bills via proper freezer/fridge use:
3. Fill you fridge and freezer to their capacity. Cold air is lost much more quickly than the cool temperatures within frozen foods. Your appliance works much harder to cool down its contents with an empty freezer than with a packed one. If you don't have enough freezable foods to fill your freezer, pack it to its limits with frozne water bottles.
4. When something frozen defrosts, it makes the air around it cooler. Save your fridge some work by defrosting frozen foods or drinks in your fridge instead of in your sink. If you don't have any foods that need defrosting, take one of your frozen water bottles and put it in the fridge to defrost. This will cool your fridge, allowing the motor to relax a bit, and will give you some refreshing cold water to drink.

(As to the story about my fridge... see comments below.)

What tricks do you do to lower your electric expenses incurred from your fridge and freezer? Do you do any of these tricks? Would you do any of these tricks?
And most importantly of all- has your electric bill ever mysteriously gone up? Have you figured out the cause and been able to fix the problem? Tell us about it.
Oh, and do your kids also like playing with the fridge?

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