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I'm getting ready to take a trip for about a month. We'll eat all of the perishable stuff in our fridge/freezer, but this will leave lots of other things that will do just fine (frozen veggies, condiments, etc). In the past, for longer trips, I've worked harder at reducing these quantities, then given away whatever was left so I could simply unplug my fridge. For various reasons, that's not an option this time.

I've heard that putting a large, sealed container of water in the refrigerator can help stabilize the temperature and reduce usage for extended periods when the door won't be opened at all. Is this true? Are there other strategies I can use to reduce energy usage of my fridge while I'm traveling?

  • With no one opening it ,it will be much more efficient than normal use. Some condensing coils may be built into the exterior so do't put insulation on the outside. – blacksmith37 Jun 18 at 18:41
  • In general, for a house not suited for a large solar-panel system, a small solar-panel system could possibly be setup just to charge AGM batteries that run the refrigerator. – S Spring Jun 19 at 1:27
  • Slightly lowering the thermostat setting for the fridge may be an option. I have doubts about placing a large container of water in the fridge. I'm assuming that when first placed into the fridge the water will be at room temperature. The fridge has to do work to initially cool the water for it to act as a cool store. – Fred Jun 28 at 10:12
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Some models have a holiday mode which can be used with care.

On a fridge-freezer it often stops cooling the fridge compartment (AEG) or at least stops cooling it enough to keep food fresh. Check the manual for your model if you plan to leave anything in your fridge (except things that don't really need to be chilled like chocolate in a hot climate, sealed drinks).

On separate appliances it's less common but effectively sets a higher setpoint on the thermostat. You can do the same by turning the fridge down. On most models I've used there's a graduated but uncalibrated dial representing some sort of cooling power - bigger numbers=colder. On others there's a digital thermostat with a readout in degrees - you can set this to the warm end of the safe range when going away, while you might normally run it a degree or two cooler.

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The refrigerator runs more with a hotter house.

If the house air-conditioning is turned-off in a summertime climate then the refrigerator will run more. The house can be made a little cooler in a summertime climate with a standing-seam steel roof-covering that has a special granulated paint. Or I use 430 SS for roof coverings with no paint required.

Of course hardwood trees will shade the house in summertime but let sunlight through in the wintertime. The house will be cooler in summertime.

Crack some windows open when the A/C is turned off in summertime. Cracked open windows can have the window frames drilled and pegged with 1/4" bolts so as to be locked.

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  • Well, granulated paint on steel roofs is probably for climates that have hot sunlight most all year. And hardwood trees don't grow in climates that have very long winters but do grow in many four-season climates. – S Spring Jun 19 at 21:23
  • If the refrigerator is full with items having a constant temperature, why on earth would it run more than an empty refrigerator? To me, it seems that the only thing that matters is the temperature inside. Full or empty, doesn't matter in the long run although it can affect the cycling (lots of short cycles vs few long cycles). – juhist Jun 20 at 20:28
  • The refrigerator is not likely to be stuffed so full as to have a problem:dtappliance.com/blog/… . Here is another link: products.geappliances.com/appliance/… . – S Spring Jun 20 at 21:00

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