When it comes to refrigerator power consumption, people usually want to know just one thing: “What can I find to eat inside?” But equally important questions are detailed below.

How Many Watts Does a Fridge Use?

Exactly how many watts is a refrigerator using on a typical day? For example, most people have units that operate (or “run”) for about eight total hours per day. But, if you do things like clean the coils, position the appliance correctly, keep it well-maintained, and set the right temperature, you can reduce the amount of time it runs to less than eight hours per day.

When it does run, it might use the same number of watts based on its design, the size of its motor, and other factors. But if you follow a few energy-saving and maintenance tips, you can reduce the total hours that your fridge runs on an average day.

First, figure out the number of watts, kilowatt-hours, and the monthly cost of running your fridge:

  • Step One: Look at the manufacturer’s sticker on the inside wall of your unit. If it’s not there, it could be on the back of the fridge or inside the freezer door. Manufacturers usually put it in a very obvious, hard-to-miss place.
  • Step Two: Next, check the sticker for listed “voltage” and “amps.” These are electrical terms you need not understand. Just multiply the amps number by the voltage number and you’ll have the total watts that the appliance uses during operation. For example, if the voltage is 120 and the amp number is 8, the fridge uses 960 (120 times 8) watts during standard operation.
  • Step Three: Most “average” refrigerators run for about eight hours per day. Multiply 8 hours of usage by the number of watts you came up with in step two, or 8 x 960 = 7,680 watts per day, on average. But 7,680 watts is only 7.68 kilowatt-hours. Most energy providers charge consumers about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity usage.
  • Step Four: We’re almost done! Since you now know that your fridge uses 7.68 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day, you can calculate the monthly cost. At 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, your daily cost for running your fridge is 12 cents times 7.68, or 92 cents per day. That translates to $27.60 each month, just to run the refrigerator.

What are Some Tips to Reduce Fridge Energy Use?

Of course, $27 per month is just an example but it’s pretty close to the national average cost to run a typical refrigerator. That’s a lot of money per year, $324 just for one appliance. What if there were ways to get your fridge to work more efficiently and run less than eight hours per day? What if you could do some things that caused it to run for only five, six, or seven hours per day? The answer is that you’d save a lot of money, that’s what. In fact, for every hour you can reduce your fridge’s operating time, you save $3.45 per month or $41,40 per year. And that’s for each hour that you reduce the operating time. It’s pretty clear that we should all do whatever we can to increase the efficiency of our refrigerators. Here are some time-tested strategies for getting your fridge into a more efficient mode:

  • Clean it every few months: About once per three months, dust under your refrigerator after pulling it away from the wall. Consider dusting the coils too after unplugging the appliance from the wall socket. Allowing the unit to “breathe” lets its motor run easier and more efficiently.
  • Keep the freezer about 70 percent full: If you keep your freezer nearly full, you won’t be wasting money by cooling all the empty space. The same principle applies to the fridge; keeping it about three-quarters full helps keep the efficiency level high.
  • Set the correct temperature: Your appliance will operate well if you don’t make it work too hard to maintain the right temperature. There’s no need to have the fridge setting below 34 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the ideal setting for food safety. Set freezers to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep it away from heat sources: Avoid putting your refrigerator near a major source of heat, like an oven or direct sunlight.
  • Replace the door seals: This is a one-time task that can make a huge difference in the overall level of operating efficiency.

Don’t feel bad if you can’t do everything on the list. Most people can only do a few of the items, but even making one step points you in the right direction of energy efficiency, saving money, and even giving a little boost to the environment along the way.

What’s the Next Step?

If you ran into some challenges with the above list when you tried to make your refrigerator more efficient, join the club. Maybe cleaning the coils was not so easy, or you just didn’t want to monkey around with the insides of the appliance. That’s understandable. For most homeowners, hiring a technician makes perfect sense. For a reasonable cost, you can have a repair person check on your refrigerator twice per year to make sure everything is running well, clean, oiled, and in top shape. That way, you’ll know that your appliance is doing its job efficiently.