At least that was true for me until recently, when I cleaned the heat-exchange condenser coils, which are what cool your refrigerator by releasing heat. If the coils are covered in a blanket of dust, the refrigerator has to work harder. You’ll hear the motor kicking on often and for a long time.
Refrigerators are already the greatest electricity consumer in most households (about 15%), so it helps to make them as efficient as possible. The Consumer Energy Center says, “brushing or vacuuming the coils can improve efficiency by as much as 30 percent.”
I dare you to look at the coils on your fridge. (They’re likely underneath the fridge, so you don’t have to pull it out.)
Here’s what I found:
And here’s the result after vacuuming.
These are the steps I took to address the dust bunny disaster on the refrigerator coils:
- Find the coils. They are either behind or under the refrigerator. The ones on my fridge are underneath.
- Unplug your fridge.
- Take off the front grate, if it’s underneath. I washed the grate with soapy water. (See this video for how to.)
- Vacuum. You may need a brusher, too. (See this video for how to.)
- Reinstall the cover. It’s easier to do with the fridge door open. (See this video for how to.)
- Plug in the fridge.
In this video, the speaker shows the kind of coils I have, and also explains that cleaning the coils might help address persistent allergies from mold/mildew.
How often? At least once an year. More often, especially if you have pets with hair.