It's hot outside, but it should be (very) cool inside your refrigerator. To keep it that way — even as the mercury rises and rises — follow these simple tips. They'll do wonders for your energy bill, help keep your food from spoiling, and just keep your fridge running nice and cold.
1. Clean it up.
No, we're not telling you to wipe down the shelves (although that's never a bad idea). We're talking about the kind of cleaning where you pull the fridge away from the wall, and actually get the dirt and grime out of the coils. (Note: If you have a newer fridge, the coils will be across the bottom front, behind a grille.) Just dust and vacuum the exposed coils, and vacuum out the space where the appliance lives.
2. Keep it a few inches from the wall.
If you have the space in your kitchen, slide your refrigerator a tiny bit away from the wall, so that air can circulate behind it, which helps disperse some of the heat that your fridge creates.
3. Fill it up.
Generally speaking, the more stuff that's in your fridge, the more efficient your refrigerator will run. If the only time your fridge is really full is Thanksgiving, you can totally fake it the rest of the time: Fill pitchers with tap water, and place them in the excess spaces in your refrigerator. This will create the full-factor that tricks your fridge into running as efficiently as possible. Plus, then you'll have lots of chilled water on hand for those really sweltering days!
4. Keep it closed!
In the dead of summer, you may be tempted to stick your head in the fridge and let all that cool air rush around you (and your kitchen!), but that's the worst thing you can do if you want to keep it running well. Just like you wouldn't open your oven door to warm things up in the winter while cookies are baking, you don't want to open the fridge and let all that cold air out (or the hot air from your kitchen in). Which brings us to our next point ...
5. Organize things before it's too hot.
Before the next heat wave, make sure you organize the inside of your fridge. This way, you'll spend as little time as possible searching for stuff.
Steal these ideas: The Most Ingenious Ways to Organize Your Refrigerator
6. Cool things off before you put them into the fridge.
Maybe you cooked a big batch of food on Sunday so you could assemble no-cook meals throughout the rest of the week? Good for you — that was smart. But before you put that hot food in the fridge, consider letting it cool on the countertop for a little bit.
When you put something hot in the fridge, the appliance has to work extra hard to cool it down (and to regulate the other contents in there). Just be sure to avoid letting your food enter the "danger zone": Food enters a danger zone between temperatures of 40°F and 140°F, so never leave food out at room temperature for longer than two hours. And only one hour if it is a hot day!
7. Use containers and those built-in drawers.
Free-floating items in your fridge give off moisture, and make your fridge work super hard just to regulate the air. Use airtight containers to hold your leftovers, and store your produce correctly in the crisper drawers.
Get a quick tutorial: What to Store in Your Refrigerator Humidity Drawers
8. Give in to your air conditioning.
Stop us if this sounds familiar: You have central air in your home but you don't like to turn it on because it uses so much energy. Unfortunately, the energy that you're saving by not cooling the whole house is actually being used by your fridge, as it works harder to stay cool in a seriously hot kitchen. It might not be a one-for-one tradeoff, but keeping the temperature regulated throughout your entire house can help the appliance run more efficiently.
What else do you do to keep your fridge cool when temps are hot, hot, hot?