The old platitude “Use it or lose it” is applicable even in the world of home refrigeration. In other words, if you want your refrigerator or freezer to work more efficiently, you have use all possible space or you’ll lose some of your refrigerating capabilities.

enery efficientThis is because each time you open your freezer, you allow cold air to escape and warm air to flow inside. Studies have found that the majority of the energy your freezer uses, for example, is attributed to simply retooling the air that flows inside the freezer when you open it. If your freezer is totally full, there’s less room for warmer air to take up and the items in there help to cool down any air that does sneak in. That means keeping your fridge full will translate into less energy used to keep it cool.

However, only big families can fill their fridge to the brim without food inevitably going bad. That’s where it becomes helpful to back your fridge or freezer with non-food items, just to keep your cooling efficiency up. There’s a lot of items that you can choose between, but here’s a few examples.

Newspaper will help you if you move food items towards the outer sides of your freezer and stuff the interior spaces with newspaper. Bag of shipping peanuts can help too; they take up lots of room in mostly empty freezers, and the bags can be molded to fit whatever spaces your food has left.

Ziplock bags full of water also help with energy efficiency. They’ll take up space and even freeze and keep your food cold if there’s a power loss or a busted fuse. Don’t want to risk a leakage? Fill plastic to-go containers with water for the same purpose and stack them on top of each other like building blocks. They’re much easier to take in and out according to how much space you have, and they can still fill small gaps in your fridge. Another possibility? Fill a milk jug with water for the same purpose.

packing peanutThis is, of course, all assuming that you don’t have enough food to keep your refrigerator or freezer full. Maybe you do, in which case placement of the items can also help you to achieve top freezer efficiency. It all starts with defrosting and drying your freezer and moving your food items towards the front and sides so that you can grab them quickly and easily when it’s time to take them out. Then you fill the interior central cavity with whatever non-food item best fills the gap; that means milk jugs, packing peanuts, tupperware full of water, and the like.

A word to the wise: when you’re packing your freezer for energy efficiency, you can go too far. Don’t fill it to the brim with packing peanuts or newspaper. In fact, you’re going to need to leave air space around the edges and top of your freezer’s thermostat can sense the temperature of the freezer and keep your food frozen.

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