6 Surprising Things About Your Fridge That You Really Should Know

published Aug 4, 2022
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Credit: Tim Hargett

Sometimes I think about the lengths people used to go to in order to preserve their food, from smoking meat to canning an entire season’s worth of produce. Then I marvel for a grateful second at modern technology, which allows us to preserve all of our food with no more work than it takes to open a fridge door and place something on a shelf. 

The modern refrigerator was invented in 1913, and the first self-contained unit was invented by Frigidaire in 1923. By 1944, 85 percent of households had a refrigerator. Now, 99.8 percent of American homes possess a refrigerator, and 25 percent have two! 

Despite their ubiquity, there are many things that most of us don’t know about this essential household appliance — even though we rely on it every single day. But the more you understand about your fridge, the better equipped you are to use it and care for it! Here are six things you might not know about your trusty refrigerator.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

1. You need to change the filters. 

To keep the air in your fridge and the water in your dispenser fresh and odor-free, it’s important to change both filters regularly. Look up the manufacturer’s recommendations for your particular model and replace filters right away if you’ve never done it. Set reminders on your calendar to change them when they’re due for new ones. 

Credit: Lauren Manaker

2. Storing meat on the bottom shelf prevents cross-contamination.

Raw meat should always be stored on the bottom shelf. If juices drip or spill, you don’t want them to get on to the foods you will eat raw, such as your produce. Create zones in your fridge and stick to them so that everyone knows where things belong and cross-contamination is kept to a minimum. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. The rubber gasket needs maintenance. 

The rubber gaskets on your fridge and freezer door keep warm air out and cold air in. Any compromise in this seal means your refrigerator has to work harder than it should, which means faster wear and tear on your unit. In addition, a seal that isn’t tight could lead to food spoilage. To keep it working as it should, clean it regularly and replace it if you notice any damage. 

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4. A full fridge is more energy efficient.

On average, a fridge uses 300 to 800 watts of electricity, depending on the model. A fridge that has more items in it — as opposed to being empty — is more energy efficient. 

On the other hand, an overcrowded fridge blocks air vents and inhibits circulation, leading to inefficiency and possible food contamination. Sort through your fridge regularly, and don’t overbuy if it means stuffing things in your unit. 

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

5. Your fridge coils need attention, too!

Your fridge might not be cooling to its fullest potential and could be using excess energy. One thing to be aware of is your fridge’s coils. A chemical coolant is passed into your fridge and heat is removed and released from your fridge via these coils.

Where to find them? They can be found at the back of your fridge or underneath it toward the front or back. When dust and debris build up on the coils, it can affect your fridge’s ability to cool itself. Check your manufacturer’s directions, and take a peek at your coils to make sure they don’t need to be cleaned.

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6. The fridge doors are relatively warm.

Fridge doors, while convenient, are the warmest parts of the fridge because they’re opened and closed so often. Try using the door shelves to store nut butters and condiments — so that you don’t risk food spoiling faster.

How do you maintain and maximize use of your fridge? Tell us in the comments below.