The refrigerator is something we can’t do without, and yet totally taken for granted. It also happens to be the household appliance that consumes the most energy, using up around 14 percent of your total energy needs. What if we told you that with these simple tips, you can use it in smart ways to live healthier, even save some money, and do your bit for the planet?

These tips will be way more helpful than that old favorite of ‘not keeping the fridge door open for longer than a couple of minutes’. Read on to know more:

1. Part With The Plastic
It’s healthier to store your food in glass containers, since plastic leaches harmful chemicals into your food and beverages over time. Doing this cuts down on time and energy wasted, since it can be transferred from fridge to table even after being heated in the microwave. Glass is better for the environment as well, thanks to being all natural and recyclable, unlike most plastics. Transparency means you’re more likely to eat the food before it goes bad.

2. Go For The Newer, Smaller Model
Buy a fridge that’s Energy Star-certified to ensure you save energy, which means financial savings in the long run. A smaller model consumes less energy and leads to less wastage, since you can’t just dump loads of food in it. Models with freezers on top are more efficient than side by side versions. Avoid the ones with automatic ice makers and built-in ice or water dispensers. Remember to dispose off your old fridge properly, with the help of your local recycling center.

3. Keep It Full (But Not Crammed)
Maintain a balance between keeping your fridge crammed, and leaving the shelves bare. It consumes more energy if there’s a lot of empty space, but if it’s too full, there’s not enough room for the air to circulate and cool everything down. Don’t have enough stuff to stock? Just fill up containers with water and place them on the shelves, which is always handy, and makes more sense if you don’t have an ice dispenser.

4. Check The Expiry Dates
Aside from regularly checking expiration dates of all items, ensure that you rotate items so that nothing gets left at the back and goes bad. Arrange ingredients based on how cool they need to be, giving fruit and vegetables space instead of clumping them together, wrapping cheese in wax paper and keeping eggs in their cartons. Regular cleaning is essential to prevent bacterial growth, which is bad for your health. Use natural cleaners and gentle scourers or a damp sponge for spills. Pay attention—at least twice a year—to the coils, behind and under the fridge, since they are responsible for its cooling power. The seals should be wiped regularly to avoid becoming brittle, loose and dirty.

5. Control Interior & Exterior Temperatures
The location of your fridge is important, so don’t place it next to a heat source—whether it’s a stove, oven, or a sunny window. Choose a north or east wall as the ideal location to help keep its contents cool. Check the internal temperature with a fridge thermometer, so you know which spots cool more than others. Plan your food storage accordingly.

Head to our Food section for healthy recipes and the latest food trends.
Get useful tips on Healthy Eating here.

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3 Ways To Save By Living Greener
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Simona is a journalist who has worked with several leading publications in India over the last 17 years, writing on lifestyle topics and the arts, besides interviewing celebrities. She made the switch to public relations and headed the division as PR Manager at ITC Hotels’ flagship property, the ITC Grand Chola, but has since returned to her first love, journalism. Now she writes on food, which she is sincerely passionate about and wellness, which she finds fascinating and full of surprises. When she isn’t writing, she is busy playing the role of co-founder and communications director of The Bicycle Project, a six-year-old charity initiative that empowers tribal children in rural areas, while addressing the issue of urban waste.