Live Green and Earn Points


Set your refrigerator temperature between 37 and 40 degrees

Written by Recyclebank .
Don't keep your fridge too frigid! Avoid wasting energy by setting your refrigerator to an appropriate temperature.
Setting your refrigerator between 37°F and 40°F will keep your food stored at a safe temperature without wasting energy. (The optimal temperature for your freezer is 5°F.) The colder your fridge, the more energy it uses: in fact, if you were to set your refrigerator temperature 10 degrees colder, it would use 25 percent more energy.[1]

How to set your refrigerator temperature

  1. Test the temperature by putting an appliance thermometer in a glass of water and setting it on the middle shelf of the refrigerator for 24 hours. In the freezer, place a thermometer among packs of frozen food.
  2. If you need to adjust the temperature, look for the temperature control dials inside both the refrigerator and freezer. (Check your owner's manual if you can't find the controls.) Most refrigerator temperature dials have numbers (not degrees) and will indicate which way to turn the dial to warmer or colder. Move the dial just one number either way and wait 24 hours before you test again.
  3. If you can't get the temperature set properly, check the frost level in the freezer. If it's more than one-quarter inch thick, it's time to defrost. Also, check the door seal to be sure cold air is not escaping.

Find it! Refrigerator/Freezer thermometers

Refrigerator/freezer thermometers are designed to provide accurate readings at cold temperatures. When using these thermometers to test the internal temperature of a refrigerator or freezer, be sure the doors are closed tightly and don't open them more than necessary.

Setting your refrigerator temperature between 37°F and 40°F helps you go green because…

  • A refrigerator set at the proper temperature is operating efficiently and using only the amount of electricity necessary to store food safely.
Refrigerators use more electricity than any other household appliance — almost five times more than the average television.[2] The production of electricity by coal-burning power plants — the most common method of electricity production in the US — releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Therefore, when appliances operate efficiently, electricity use, and subsequent greenhouse gas emissions, are decreased. Periodically testing your refrigerator's temperature is a no-cost way to be sure you're not using more electricity than you need.


  1. Rocky Mountain Institute - Kitchen Appliances
  2. US Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: Energy Savers: Appliances
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