Energy Use Investigation 8.4:

Exploring A Refrigerator

Let’s explore some parts of the refrigerator that keep it cold and some parts that move heat energy from the interior to the exterior of the refrigerator.


• Refrigerator or freezer.
• Refrigerator owner’s manual if it is available.

Examine the walls and door of the refrigerator. Look for features that help keep heat out.

Look on the outside of your refrigerator for the condenser coils. The owner's manual may help you to find them. They are probably on the back side or the bottom of the refrigerator, or both. Look for features that help send heat from the coils into the air away from the refrigerator.

• Did you find the condenser coil?

• Did it feel warm?

• What color is it?

• How does its color help it to function properly?

• Why do you think that this part of the refrigerator has so many thin pieces of metal welded to it?

If you check your refrigerator’s manual it will almost certainly give instructions on cleaning this part of the refrigerator.

Question 8.7
How might a dusty condenser coil keep heat from getting away from your refrigerator?

Question 8.8
Does this article from 1991 have any tips you could follow today? Why does an electric company care if your refrigerator is energy efficient?

For more up to date information about cutting refrigeration costs, visit  and

Fiona Potter,
Apr 4, 2012, 2:27 PM