How to Help Your Freezer Run More Efficiently

Freezers have to work quite a bit harder than refrigerators to maintain the proper temperature. Without opening the freezer, the compressor will still turn on and off throughout the day to stay cold enough to keep everything inside frozen, but each time the freezer is open, cold air flows out and is replaced by warm air, the longer the door is opened, the harder the freezer has to work to get back to the right temperature again. If the door isn't sealing properly, or if the coils are dirty, the job becomes a lot harder, and eventually, the freezer will wear out.

To extend the life of your stand alone, or built-in freezing unit, you can:

  • Keep your freezer stocked. Because the items inside are frozen, they can maintain their own temperature better, like ice cubes keeping a drink cold, they can help cool each other and the air around them. If you don't have much in your freezer, consider freezing some jugs of water or placing blocks of ice inside to take up space and make the freezer's job easier.
  • Get what you need and get out. Keeping the freezer door closed will ensure that the cold air inside remains cold. Warm air from outside quickly displaces  the cold air inside and will require the unit to run harder to drop the internal temperature back to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Don't put hot food in a cold freezer. Hot foods aren't flash-frozen, just because they are put into a freezer, the food takes time to cool down. Hot food radiates its own heat like cold food radiates cold, put them together and you'll see that it's harder to slow down fast moving molecules than it is to speed up stationary molecules. That means that the air around your hot food will interact with the other items in the freezer, raising their temperature, and causing them to thaw a little. It will take the more work for the unit to freeze and refreeze everything in the freezer because it has to counteract all that heat. It is better to let food cool before placing it in the freezer.
  • Pay attention to the temperature. It can be hard to know which number setting will keep your freezer at a constant 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celcius). To test it, place a thermometer in the freezer and check it frequently. A little trial and error will help you find the correct setting.

Freezer Tips & Repairs

  • Keep the unit away from any heat sources. Heating vents, ovens, even dishwashers and sunlight through a window can heat the area around your unit to the point that it will have to work harder to maintain its temperature.
  • Allow air circulation. Make sure the back or bottom of the unit (wherever your condenser coils are) have free access to air circulation. Remove any obstruction that may prevent proper air flow to the coils.
  • Clean the coils regularly. Remove dust, dirt, pet hair, lint or any other buildup off of the coils and compressor fan. Dirty coils prevent freezers from operating efficiently and can even burn out necessary components.
  • Keep the door seals clean and in good condition. If the rubber seal is broken or dirty, air will be able to seep in from outside and the unit will have to work continuously to maintain its internal temperature.
  • Defrost the freezer regularly. Some units have the ability to self-defrost, but for most, the unit will need to be turned off, emptied and de-iced regularly. This is usually a good time to perform other regular maintenance as well.


Chest and Upright, Automatic and Manual Defrost

Deep freezers are designed to run colder than combination refrigerator-freezer units, they are meant to be used for the long-term storage of many types of food, as long as they are properly packaged. Freezers should be set at or slightly below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 to -20 degrees Celcius).

The 2 most common freezer designs:

  1. Upright Freezers. Upright freezers provide convenient access to frequently used frozen foods and require less space than horizontal chest freezers. Upright freezers tend to be less efficient because they are so frequently opened. Each time the door is opened cold air pours out and warm air replaces it, and the unit has to cool itself all over again. Fortunately, newer models are available with a frost-free feature, it uses more energy, but it periodically warms itself to thaw frost build up and then dropping the temperature again.
  2. Chest Freezers. Most of us grew up with a chest freezer in the garage, their tried and true design has been around for a long time. This style freezer tends to remain closed, needing little encouragement to continue running and running many years before it requires servicing. They may not be as convenient as upright freezers, but they have more cubic footage for a greater storage capacity, they are more energy efficient and cost less than upright freezers.

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