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Placing the fridge on a hot western wall that gets lots of summer sun is a no-no. Where possible, separate the fridge in an area of the kitchen that’s naturally cold and dry.
Most fridges in Australia aren’t ventilated properly, but efficiency can be improved by 25 per cent by increasing the amount of airflow under the fridge. If the air that passes over the cooling mechanisms at the back and bottom of the fridge is cooler, less energy is needed, so facilitate this by putting a grate underneath the fridge bringing in cool air from under the house or outside.
Use the heat:
Learn from the mistakes of Michael and Heather Mobbs with their sustainable house (www.sustainablehouse.com.au), where they would have preferred to integrate the design so the heat generated from the fridge was collected out the top (remember hot air rises) and used to dry the towels on the racks in the bathroom above the kitchen.
If your fridge is built into kitchen cabinetry, put a door in front of it for effective insulation. A carpenter will be able to install a mechanism that allows you to open the fridge door at the same time as the cupboard door.
Fill it up:
A full fridge uses less energy than an empty fridge, so it’s important to have the right size fridge for your needs. Only store items that you need to, such as meat and dairy – vegies and herbs can be kept in a well-ventilated pantry, or even better stored where they grow in your garden.
Recent improvements in the design of refrigerators mean that newer fridges are much more efficient than old ones – go for as many star ratings as you can afford if you’re in the market for one. Some states and councils do buyback schemes that pay you to take your old fridge where they then dispose of it properly.