Refrigerators are marvels of the standard kitchen, if and only if you have set the right temperature inside! They help prevent bacteria from growing and food from spoiling, and allow us to buy food several days in advance, rather than going to the store every day. But, refrigerators are also one of the biggest energy hogs in the average American home. You can reduce the energy drain from your refrigerator by setting it at the right temperature.
Your refrigerator should maintain a temperature of about 37 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the mid-range setting of most refrigerators. Set your refrigerator at the middle setting, and place an appliance thermometer in the middle of the refrigerator. Look at the thermometer to ensure that your appliance is hitting this target. If not, adjust up or down accordingly. The freezer compartment should be set to maintain zero degrees. An appliance thermometer will help you measure that target as well.
If your refrigerator allows your food to reach 41 degrees Fahrenheit on a consistent basis, it is likely not preventing bacteria from growing and multiplying. Food from a refrigerator set to 41 degrees Fahrenheit or higher may not be safe for you to eat. Keep your appliance thermometer in your refrigerator at all times. If your home loses power and your refrigerator is no longer running, look at the appliance thermometer to determine if your food is still safe to eat. If the temperature reading is too high, consider composing your food, rather than taking a chance and eating food that could make you sick.
If you find that you have your refrigerator at the coolest setting, but you're still not achieving safe temperatures, call an appliance repair shop. It's best to have the machine repaired before it stops working completely. Similarly, if the appliance is running too cool, call a repair shop for help. Machines that run too cool use an abundant amount of energy and may damage delicate food in the process.