To maintain an efficient refrigerator temperature, consumers should avoid placing the refrigerator near heat sources such as dishwashers, ovens and direct sunlight. At least 1 inch of space should surround the refrigerator so that air around the coils can circulate.
The door seals on refrigerators should also close fully. To test the seals, close the door on a dollar bill. If the bill can be pulled out, the seals do not work as well as they should. If a refrigerator has to be placed next to a dishwasher or stove, a sheet of foam insulation between the appliances helps the refrigerator maintain an efficient temperature.
Refrigerator temperatures should be between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit, with freezers at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Running a refrigerator even 10 degrees less uses up to 25 percent more energy. Refrigerators should be kept as full as possible without overflowing; water-filled bottles or containers help take up empty space to help with efficiency. A refrigerator should be opened as few times as possible, and it should be closed as soon as possible. Labels for food and leftovers help minimize the amount of time the door has to be open, as does logical organization of food and drinks.
Leftover food should be cooled to room temperature and contained tightly before it is placed in the refrigerator. Otherwise, the extra heat means the refrigerator compressor runs more to cool the refrigerator.