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how heat affects your refrigerator

How Heat Affects Your Refrigerator

Have you ever wondered how heat affects your refrigerator? Refrigerators are sensitive to heat and may struggle to cool if they are in an environment too hot (or too cold). We all need a little help to stay cool in the summer, and refrigerators are no different! Luckily, you can do a few simple things to help your fridge run optimally.

How Heat Affects Your Refrigerator

Understanding how heat affects your refrigerator is the first step to helping it run optimally. Refrigerators need to maintain a consistent temperature & disperse heat away from them without overworking the compressor. A refrigerator in a room 90 degrees or higher will struggle to maintain a consistent temperature inside, especially if the doors are being opened often.

Does a Refrigerator Work Better in a Hot or Cold Room? 

The best room temperature for a refrigerator is between 60-85ºF, right around average room temperature. A fridge in a room with fluctuating temperatures will require more energy consumption, so keeping your refrigerator in a temperature-controlled environment (like the kitchen) will ensure optimal performance.

From an efficiency standpoint, refrigerators stored in hot rooms are far worse off than in cold rooms. For every 1ºF change in ambient temperature, your refrigerator will consume 2-2.5% more energy! That equates to as much as 45-50% more energy consumption in your 90ºF garage than your 70ºF kitchen! (source: Garage Transformed).

However, food thawing in the freezer is a major concern when the room temperature drops below 50ºF. When temperatures are too cold, the fridge may be unable to regulate when the compressor turns on and off, resulting in the compartment temperatures becoming too warm and thawing food. If the temperature fluctuates too much, the food may thaw and freeze repeatedly, causing the risk of spoilage. 

How Can I Reduce Energy Consumption During Summer Months?

Now that you understand how heat affects your refrigerator, there are a few ways you can help the fridge maintain a consistent temperature. A consistent temperature is important to prevent your food from spoiling.

Create an Air Tight Seal

Keeping the doors closed and ensuring the gaskets seal completely will allow the fridge to maintain a consistent temperature inside.

Refrigerator Doors

When getting something out of the fridge, close the door immediately and plan ahead to avoid needing to open the door multiple times. Put everything back in the fridge at the same time.

Door Gaskets

Test the seal of the door gaskets with a piece of paper. Close half the piece of paper in the door. Try to pull the other half of the paper out. If the paper slides out easily, your door gaskets are not sealing completely. Stuck on food, grime, or damaged gaskets can prevent them from sealing. Inspect the gaskets for visual damage and wipe them clean routinely.

can we reduce energy consumption during the summer months

Food Storage

When storing food, keep them in airtight containers or sealed with cling wrap. This will prevent moisture from escaping into the fridge air space.

Adjust Settings as Needed

As the seasons and weather change, adjusting your fridge’s settings, such as temperature, may be necessary.


It’s important to know what the optimal temperature is for your refrigerator. Refrigerator temperatures should be 37° F, and the freezer should be set at 0° F. The temperature may need to be lowered during the hot summer months. This may vary depending on your model, so check your Owner’s Manual for specifications.

Power Save Feature

If you have a power save feature on your refrigerator, turn it off when it is hot and humid outside. This feature causes the heaters that dry up the moisture to shut off, which can cause your fridge to sweat and mildew to grow on the gaskets.

Let Air Circulate

When air circulates inside and outside of your fridge, it allows heat to disperse and prevents the compressor from working too hard.

Outside the Fridge

Don’t place your fridge up against walls or in tight spaces. Leave a few inches between the wall and the refrigerator so that there is enough room around the fridge for heat to disperse away from the condenser.

Inside the Fridge

Be mindful of what and how much is in your fridge. Overloading your fridge can restrict air movement, making it more difficult to maintain the correct temperature. Avoid adding multiple room temperature items to your fridge at one time. Adding a 12-pack of soda or multiple water bottles at one time will require your fridge to work harder to cool all the items.

Perform Maintenance

Condenser Coils

Clean the condenser coils every six months to a year. Coils covered with dust and debris cause the compressor to work harder than it was made to, which requires more energy.

Auto Defrost

If your refrigerator doesn’t have auto defrost, don’t let ice build up thicker than a quarter of an inch. To manually defrost your fridge, turn it off for 24 hours, clean it, and turn it back on. Your fridge should be defrosted once to twice a year.

If you find your refrigerator is still struggling to cool, contact the refrigerator repair professionals at Atomic Tech today!

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