by Martha Gail-Moore
Weather forecasters have made predictions that the mercury will be plunging again soon. But frostbite within 10 minutes of being outdoors probably won’t happen again for quite a while.
Just about every state in the United States was affected from our record-breaking winter cold snap in decades during the first week of January 2014. You may be wondering how to not only keep your home warm, but keep those heating bills lower too as the forecasters predict another cold front later this month.
The polar vortex or the Arctic air that broke off from its usual domain of the Artic and Canada is not expected to push down into southern states again this time. But many got a wake-up call about their home’s energy efficiency.
It is becoming increasingly more important as weather extremes in both directions seem to be the new normal. What can you do about it? Start with a home energy audit to find drafts, which are often located in gaps along the baseboard of the flooring and the junctures where walls and ceilings meet. Outside the home, the places to inspect are holes or cracks in the mortar, siding, or foundation, and then doors and windows.
Definitely look for a certified energy auditor, which most heating and air conditioning companies can supply. Also check with your local utility provider in case they offer discounted home energy audits or even free ones. They’ll also need you to provide the past year’s fuel bills.
They’ll be looking for how your house uses energy and locating the inefficiencies. The audit will consist of two parts: A home energy assessment and a computerized data analysis.
Before green lighting the company, you should check to see if the inspector is using the following pieces of equipment that are integral to a proper energy inspection:
- Infrared camera that will help assess air leakage
- Blower door that helps find leaks and creates a 20-mile-per-hour
wind after it has depressurized a house helping to determine how well
the air sealing worked
- Manometer to test how well appliances that have exhaust devices are functioning
- Combustion analyzer to test flue gases in appliances with vented combustion and measure temperature and for carbon monoxide
- Draft gauge that tests for any chimney drafts
- Moisture meter that can detect the amount of moisture in materials and wood
- Smoke-generating device for discovering where ducts may be leaking air.
How concerned are you about your home’s energy efficiency? How was your recent polar vortex experience?
It definitely warranted one of my grandmother’s quilts and a woolen blanket on top of that. And I live in Texas!
Let us know in the comments if you are planning any energy audits of your home to improve energy efficiency after the recent winter storm.
Martha Gail-Moore is a web content manager and copywriter. In the interest of sparking the best collaborations possible, she keeps it fun and, therefore, calls her business Playfulworks. She’s interested in children, art, and healthcare for everyone. Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/playfulworkswebcontentmgmt.
Photo credit: Bonnie Bogle
Are you interested in energy efficiency in your home? You should be. Pennies add up really quickly and you could be spending hundreds of dollars too much every month to keep your home cool or heated. The problem is that many people have misconceptions about home energy efficiency. Because of this, many people aren’t able to take the steps necessary to prepare their homes to be truly energy efficient.
Home Energy Efficiency Apathy and More
Here’s a look at some of the biggest problems about keeping a home energy efficient all year long.
- While money is at stake, some people simply do not care enough to take the necessary steps to make sure a home is energy efficient. This is a huge problem because it usually passes from generation to generation.
- Other people want to do something to keep their bills down, but they might not know where to start because they lack the money to do anything really big – like getting new insulation or replacing windows in an older home.
- Another problem is that many people are just flat out misinformed about what they can and cannot do to better protect their home from the elements. This misinformation spreads quickly on the Internet and misconceptions grow fast.
The good news is that it’s easy to get past the misconceptions if you just take the time to educate yourself. The Internet is a great resource for learning about ways to keep your home comfortable all year long – without going broke with heating or cooling bills. The more time you spend researching the options available in the modern world, the more you’re going to be amazed at all the options that are available for homeowners. And a lot of them don’t cost a lot of money while others can actually make you money.
For example, if you start to use solar panels or a wind generator to generate the electricity to heat or cool your home, you may find that you’re producing more than you actually need. In this case, you can usually sell the excess energy back to the utility company and actually make money! Not everyone is able to do this, but it goes to show what’s really possible if you drop the misconceptions and learn the truth about what’s available these days. The future is bright when it comes to home energy efficiency.
Storing all of your extra belongings in the basement or garage might not be the best idea. This is one reason some people are using portable buildings in Auckland. If you’re concerned about money, one of the best places to look for savings is in how you heat and cool your home. The good news is that it’s not difficult to find ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Just make sure you don’t fall for any of the schemes or scams that unfortunately abound online.
Ways To Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
Photo credits: trenttsd
If you’re looking to improve your home’s energy efficiency, a programmable thermostat is definitely going to help, but there are actually other ways that you can get your heating and cooling bills lower while still staying comfortable. We’re going to go over the best ways to get the most out of every dollar you spend on utilities in your home or business.
Tips for Better Home Energy Efficiency
Here are some specific ways that you can increase the energy efficiency in your home.
Get an Audit – One of the very first things you should do is get an energy efficiency audit. This will help you identify problems (and potential problems) so that you know which of the other tips on this list you should follow. If you don’t have a lot of extra money, this is the best way to see where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck. The audit will cost money sometimes, but it’s occasionally available for free.
Programmable Thermostat – As mentioned in the title, this is one of the best ways to make sure you’re heating your home effectively. The good news is that they’re not very expensive. Most of the time, they’re going to help you save enough to pay for themselves within a few months – depending on where you live, of course.
Better Windows – If you have money to invest in your home, getting new energy efficient windows with triple panes can save a lot of money over time. As with other investments, this one can pay for itself in no time – especially if you live in a part of the world where it’s cold all the time.
Better Insulation – If you have no insulation (gasp!) or old insulation, you might also consider getting new insulation put in. A lot of advancements have been made over the years, and it’s easy for professional contractors to come in and get your house insulated correctly with something new that will really help you cool and heat your home more efficiently.
Seal Leaks – If you can figure out where you have leaks, you can usually seal them on your own. Go around your own and feel for drafts coming in then spend a little money on caulking to seal them up so you’re not losing heat and attempting to heat (or cool) the outdoors!
Using the tips and advice above, you’re going to be able to save money every month on your heating and cooling bills. And when you do this, whatever improvements you make are going to pay for themselves over time. As long as you have a little extra money to invest, it’s a good idea to put it toward energy efficiency in your home.
Written by: Rose Sterlova loves Panasonic bread making machines because they make it easy for a fresh loaf of bread. She really likes the smell. She’s working on a way to define content marketing to her grandmother without much luck so far.
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A Simple Wayto Save Energy (and Money!)
Incandescent vs Compact Fluorescent vs Light Emitting Diodes
There has been much talk on the subject of which light bulbs you should use in the home and how this can impact on energy savings. The subject centers on the use of incandescent light bulbs versus the newer compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs).
Traditional Incandescent Bulb
Incandescent light bulbs have been in use since its invention by Thomas Edison in 1879 and are used worldwide. In the United States alone the sale of light bulbs is estimated at around 2 billion annually. They are still the most widely used light bulbs but are slowly being phased out for more energy efficient lights. In recent years CFL lights have seen an increase in sales and in some stores the older incandescent bulbs are no longer offered or are being slowly phased out. Most recently, LED bulbs are being offered as a replacement for
First let’s look at the costs of the various type light bulbs in your average home. The costs for lighting for an average home is estimated to be about 13% of the total energy cost.
Incandescent – It costs about $0.91 a day as of December 2012 to run a 60 watt incandescent bulb, producing 800 lumens. This translates to roughly $27.38 a month or $328.59 a year in energy costs. This bulb will last approximately 1200 hours of use (120 days) and costs approximately $1.50 for each bulb.
CFL – It costs about $0.21 a day to run a 13-23 watt compact fluorescent bulb, producing 900-1600 lumens. This translates to roughly $6.30 a month or $75.60 a year in energy costs. This type bulb will last approximately 8000 hours of use (2.19 years) and cost approximately $4.00 for each bulb.
LED – It costs about $0.09 a day to run a 3-5 watt light emitting diode light, producing 800 lumens. This translates to roughly $2.70 a month or $32.40 a year. This type bulb will last approximately 25,000 hours of use (6 years) and cost approximately $13.00 for each bulb.
For the subject of this article the author will be using his own home as an example.
My home (3 bedroom, 2 bath w/double garage) has approximately 50 incandescent light bulbs in use with the average bulb being a 60 watt bulb and assuming 10 hours of use daily. Assume only one fourth of the bulbs are in use during each day and energy costs remain constant (big assumption!).
Using only incandescent bulbs:
Initial cost (50 bulbs) – $75.00 and annual replacement cost (average daily use x 365days a year / 1200 hour life x 1/4 bulbs in use
x $75) – $57 Annual energy cost – $985.77
Total annual cost – 1st year = $1060.77 and $1042.77 thereafter assuming cost of electricity remains constant.
Using only compact fluorescent bulbs:
Initial cost (50 bulbs) – $200.00 and annual replacement cost (average daily use x 365 / 8000) – $0.00 for first two years.
Annual energy cost – $75.60
Total annual cost – 1st year = $275.60, $76.50 for 2nd year and then repeating the cycle starting 3rd year.
Using only light emitting diode bulbs:
Initial cost (50 bulbs) – $650.00 and annual replacement cost (average daily use x 365 / 50,000) – $0.00 for first 6 years.
Annual energy cost – $32.85
Total annual cost – 1st year = $682.85, $32.85 for the next 6 years then repeat cycle.
Below is spreadsheet showing the estimated costs for incandescent, compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs for the average home in
the above example, over a 6 year period. You will note that both CFLs and LEDs have a higher initial cost for the
bulbs but over a period of 6 years they both show significant savings over incandescent bulbs.
|Compact Fluourescant||Light Emitting Diode|
Total for 6 Years
LEDs offer a slight savings but provide little or no maintenance (replacement) over the period whereas the CFLs require replacement
every 3 years. Although LEDs are significantly more expensive at the outset, they show a total saving over CFLS
for the 6 year period of 19%.
Incandescent lights are at the low end of the cost which is a major consideration. Although initial cost is lower, incandescent lights are at the high end of the recurring energy cost. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury which makes disposal an issue. Eventually incandescent bulbs will be phased out completely due to their drain on our overall energy consumption. One final note is that some CFLs and LEDs are not recommended for use in enclosed light housings or damp areas so consider this before switching. CFL and LEDs will become the standard so begin determining which one is the best choice for your home now. Although the average homeowner does not reflect on bulb replacement when their electric bill arrives, the replacement costs of both incandescent and CFL bulbs is significant over a long period. Whichever bulb you choose to replace your old incandescent bulbs with, CFLs or LEDS, they both offer tremendous savings to the homeowner.
Energy Saving can be Big Money Saving!
With winter just around the corner many of us are dreading the inevitable increase in our home energy bills. Every year it’s the same thing; we turn on the heater and our electric bills soar through the overhead. In North Texas the winters can be extremely hard and temperatures around the freezing point normal. Most homeowners just accept that higher electric bills are the price to pain for living in this area but there are many things you can do yourself to cut those costs!
DIY Energy Saving Tips for Your Home
Homeowners can take care of many of the energy saving things themselves without having to call in a professional. The cost of these fixes can be low and many just require a little time and elbow grease to accomplish. Here are a few of the easier ones to tackle:
· Blanket wrap your water heater – Water heater wraps (or water heater insulation jacket) can be found at many outlets and run in the range of $30-40. These can help to reduce the cost of running your water heater by as much as 10%.
· Turn down your thermostat – Studies have shown that turning down your thermostat by only 3 degrees can result in a saving of about $200 a year.
· Wash clothes in cold water wherever possible.
· Change your heating/ac filter regularly – A small thing like changing the air filter can produce big energy savings. When the filter becomes clogged it causes the system to work harder and increases your electric usage.
· Let sunshine in – Whenever possible open curtains facing the sun to allow the sun to warm up the room.
· Close curtains at night – Curtains help to retain warmth in a room.
· Turn ceiling fans to pull air up – Cold air is held near the floor while warm air rises. Reversing the ceiling fans to pull up will circulate the cooler air upward and push the warmer air down resulting in an increase in the overall temperature of the room.
· Replace traditional incandescent light bulbs – Newer LED light bulbs (although more expensive) use far less electricity and have a much longer life. Some studies have shown that they can last as much as 100,000 hours or 11 years of continuous use.
· Increase attic insulation – You don’t have to be a professional to add insulation to your attic. If you are in an area where temperatures will be sub-freezing it is recommended that you have at least R-30 or about 11 inches or more of insulation.
· Insulation around doors and windows – This is one area where many homes lose much of their heating. A simple check to ensure that caulking is not broken or missing around windows and seals around doors (particularly at the bottom) are in good shape will produce a big energy savings.
· Use Power Strips – Many of today’s electronics consume energy even when turned off. To conserve electricity install power strips on electronic devices and also turn off the power strip when not in use.
Energy Saving That May Require a Professional
Although many of us may be hesitant to call a professional for something that we don’t feel is broken, this can actually produce big energy savings in the long run. Look into these areas where you may need professional help.
· Consider having an energy audit conducted – This type audit can point out possible areas of energy loss that you may not be aware of that can be big savings.
· Heating System Check Up – Before each winter season it is advisable to have your heater checked out by a professional for two reasons: efficiency of your system and safety of your family. The technician will check all connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger parts to ensure safety and efficiency.
· Programmable Thermostat – Instead of having to constantly be adjusting your thermostat you should consider having a fully programmable thermostat installed. This type thermostat can automatically adjust your system for evening or times when the house will be empty thereby saving you money.
· Have duct system checked for leaks – This can be an area where much of your heating is lost. Small leaks can result in big energy losses. A professional will have the materials handy to fix any leaks discovered quickly. Additionally, a duct system should have a regular cleaning. We have the dirt and dust caused by the shedding of skin and hair that makes its way in from the outside, along with debris and, if you have a pet, you will more likely to see a higher volume of those particles in your home. On top of that, if you live in a humid climate area, the likelihood of mold developing in your home and in those air filtration systems is pretty high so you should consider duct cleaning as part of your regular maintenance.
The final piece of the winter energy saving puzzle is to ensure that your entire family is educated on what they can each do to save energy. Simple turning off lights when not in use and dressing for winter, even indoors can go a long way to reduce costs. Home energy savings is a family job, make sure everyone knows their part.
Contact Metro Energy Savers for Energy Saving Help
If you have any questions about energy saving or need to talk with a professional contact Metro Energy Savings in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
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How to Beat the Summer Heat
Welcome to the dog days of summer – a term that dates back to the ancient Romans who associated hot weather with the appearance of Sirius (the “dog star”) in the morning sky just before sunrise.
Over the next couple of months, temperatures will likely linger around the century mark here in North Texas, and your air conditioner will work harder than at any other time during the year. Your monthly utility bills may also soar along with the temperatures.
Here at Metro Energy Savers, we’re committed to helping homeowners keep cool and control their energy costs, no matter how high the mercury climbs. Here are a few things you can do to help you survive the dog days.
Check your air filter every 30 – 90 days and clean or replace it to ensure proper air flow to your air conditioning system. If you have indoor pets, it’s a good idea to inspect your air filter monthly.
Set your system fan to the “on” position instead of the “auto” setting. Doing this will make the indoor fan run continuously. The continually moving air will help keep you cooler, and your outside unit (the condenser) will still switch on and off as needed. It will also help you maintain a more even temperature throughout your home, especially if you live in a multi-level structure. It will also keep your condenser from cycling as much, which will reduce your energy usage and save you money.
Inspect the outside condenser coil annually and, if necessary, wash it down with a garden hose and remove any vegetation that might be impeding air flow to the unit. This can cause your condenser to heat up which will cause it to be less effective and efficient.
Locate the small (usually 3/8” O/D) copper tubing running from your home to the condenser and carefully check to see if it feels hot. If so, the unit could be low on refrigerant or the condenser coil could need cleaning.
If your home has certain rooms that get warmer than others, partially close the vent registers in the cooler rooms, but do not close them all the way as this can interfere with the static air pressure of your system, causing it to be less efficient.
Make sure that all interior doors in your home have at least a 3/4” gap between the bottom of the door and the floor when the doors are closed. This gap allows your air conditioning system’s air return duct to draw warm air from closed rooms and helps to keep your entire home more comfortable.
Never turn your air conditioning system off when leaving your home for extended periods of time. Instead, raise the thermostat by five to ten degrees while you’re away and lower it when you return. The amount of energy used will be less than would be used to make your home comfortable after going completely without air conditioning for an extended period of time.
If your air conditioning system is leaking Freon, you should never have to add it. If continually having to add Freon to your system, contact a heating and air conditioning repair company and have your system professionally inspected and repaired. If left unattended, a Freon leak can cause serious damage to your air conditioning system, not to mention the environmental hazard it presents.
If you turn you’re A/C system off, wait at least three to five minutes before turning it back on. Not waiting can cause the compressor to short-cycle, which can result in blown fuses, tripped breakers and even serious damage to the compressor itself. Most programmable thermostats are equipped with built-in time delay to prevent these problems from occurring.
We hope you found this information helpful. If so, please share it.
Do you have additional tips on keeping your home cool while controlling your utility costs? If so, we’d love to hear them. Please leave a comment below.
How to Survive the Dog Days of Summer by Metro Energy Savers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://www.metroenergysavers.com/blog/.
Identifying & Treating Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious risks, and with summer in full swing you should know the warning signs and treatments in order to protect yourself and your family.
According to the CDC, exposure to excessive heat resulted in the deaths of 2,239 Americans between 1999 and 2003. The risk of heat-related illness increases dramatically when the heat index (a measure of relative humidity and air temperature) rises to 90 degrees or higher.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Heat Exhaustion is caused by water depletion or salt depletion in the body. Symptoms of water depletion include extreme thirst, general weakness, headache, and in extreme cases, a loss of consciousness.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion caused by salt depletion include nausea and vomiting, dizziness and muscle cramps.
Other symptoms of heat exhaustion include confusion, dark-colored urine, profuse sweating, tachycardia (a resting heart rate over 100 beats per minute), and pale skin.
Young children, the elderly, and individuals with certain health conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, kidney disease and heart and lung conditions, are at a much higher risk of heat exhaustion.
Recommended treatments for heat exhaustion include:
- Drinking plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids
- Removal of heavy, constrictive clothing
- Taking a cool shower
- Resting in an indoor space under air conditioning
Heat exhaustion can progress to a much more serious condition known as heat stroke. You should immediately contact your physician if symptoms of heat exhaustion persist for more than 30 minutes.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke, also known as sunstroke, is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. If left untreated, heat stroke can be fatal.
The hallmark symptom of this condition is a core body temperature of 105 degrees or higher.
Other symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shallow, rapid breathing
- Lack of sweating
- Rapid heart beat
- Reddening of the complexion
- Loss of muscle control
If you suspect that you or a loved one may be experiencing heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Delaying proper medical treatment can result in death.
There are a number of steps you can take while waiting for emergency medical personnel to arrive. They include:
- Application of an ice pack or cold compresses to the sufferer’s neck, back, groin and arm pits.
- Immersion in a tub of cold water
- Rest in an air conditioned, indoor space
- Remove all unnecessary clothing
- If no indoor, air conditioned area is available, the sufferer should be moved to a shady area and fanned until help arrives
The immediate goal of these treatments is to lower the body temperature to 102 degrees or lower.
The best way to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke is to limit your outdoor activities to the early morning and evening hours. When that’s impossible or impractical, knowing the symptoms and recommended treatments can help you prevent the serious, and even fatal effects of these medical conditions.
We hope you found this information helpful. If so, please share it with your friends and family and, as always, we welcome your comments.
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Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke – Know the Signs by Metro Energy Savers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we discussed a variety of ways to maximize your monthly energy efficiency while increasing your energy savings, including the proper use of your thermostat, energy efficient lighting and ceiling fans, how to prevent phantom power draw, and more.
In this post, we’ll look at three additional steps any homeowner can take to help control their energy usage and costs.
Landscaping for Energy Efficiency
Strategically-placed trees can improve the energy efficiency of your home year ‘round. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, planting large deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your home will shade it from the scorching summer sun; reducing your monthly cooling costs by as much as 25 percent. Because they drop their leaves during the winter months, they’ll allow sunlight to reach and you’re your home during the cold months. Planting large evergreen trees on the north side of your property will shield your home from frigid winter winds, which will help you control your heating costs.
Clean or Replace Filters for Energy Efficiency
As is the case with any other machine, your heating and air conditioning system must be kept clean in order for it to operate at peak efficiency to provide the maximum energy savings. Most experts recommend a yearly air conditioning tune up to ensure that your system is clean and functioning properly. You should also clean or replace your filters regularly. In most cases, filters should be cleaned or replaced every three months. Read the manufacturer’s label concerning the recommended replacement schedule for that specific filter.
Close and Cover Doors and Windows for Energy Savings
One of the simplest ways to conserve energy in your home is by simply ensuring your doors and windows are properly closed and sealed. A quick inspection of your doors and windows will tell whether or not they’re closing tightly. If not, replace or repair any malfunctioning hardware and weather stripping. Storm doors and windows will also reduce heat exchange. Closing shades and curtains at night will have the same.
Do you have other ideas on how to reduce household energy usage while maximizing energy savings? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.
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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Everyone Wants to Reduce Energy Costs: Here is
One Easy Way!
When thinking of ways to reduce energy costs and make their homes more energy efficient, most people naturally think about replacing their heating and air conditioning system, or windows, or adding more insulation in their attics. These are all great options, but for many people they’re also not economically feasible.
Your Refrigerator Can Help Reduce Energy Costs
The good news is that there are lots of small, inexpensive ways to improve the energy efficiency of you home. Take, for example, your refrigerator.
If you’re considering replacing your refrigerator, be sure to look for the Energy Star label to ensure that energy efficiency is high. If you’re your current refrigerator is 10-years-old, or older, it’s using two to three times the amount of electricity as an Energy Star model.
Also, be sure that the size refrigerator you choose does not exceed your actual needs. Selecting one that’s too large for your needs will will not reduce energy costs and will end up wasting energy and your hard-earned money.
Having a second refrigerator or freezer can be a nice convenience, but it can also increase your annual utility costs by as much as $120. Most people find that they only need the extra refrigerator or freezer space during the holiday season, or for special occasions. If that’s the case, empty and unplug you’re the extra appliances when they’re not being fully utilized.
A Simple Setting Can Improve Your Refrigerator’s Energy Efficiency
Your refrigerator’s thermostat should not be set any colder than 36° to 42° . The freezer should be set between -5° and +6° . Place a small thermometer on a shelf inside the refrigerator or freezer to determine the current temperature, and adjust your thermostat accordingly until the correct temperature is reached.
Be sure to keep your refrigerator and freezer clean – inside and out. Pull the unit away from the wall once or twice a year and thoroughly clean the condenser coils, motor and evaporator pan with a brush or vacuum cleaner.
If your freezer is not a self-defrosting unit, be sure to manually defrost once a quarter of an inch of frost has accumulated.
Place your refrigerator and freezer in a location that does not receive direct sunlight, and away from other appliances that generate heat, like your oven. Make sure that your refrigerator and freezer are at least two inches away from walls and cabinets to allow for proper air flow.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, refrigerators and freezers operate less efficiently if the ambient temperature drops below 60° F, so placing these units in an unheated garage or outdoor porch area is not recommended.
Be sure the door seals are clean and free of cracks. If you can pass a sheet of ordinary copy paper through a closed door, the seal should be replaced.
Tell Us Your Ideas On How To Reduce Energy Costs and Increase Energy Efficiency
Have other tips on how to make your refrigerator or freezer work more efficiently? We love to hear them. Please share them with us by posting a comment below.