Your Refrigerator: Keeping it cool, keeping you cool

by Kim

A Q&A at the NYT brought up some useful tips for maximizing your refrigerator's efficiency.
The question, "Do refrigerators use more energy when filled with food?" generated the following response:

A. Not once the food gets cold. Government and commercial experts agree that the cooling section should be kept full, with enough room for some cool air to circulate for even cooling, and that the freezer compartment should be tightly packed, so the frozen foods can keep one another cold.

Following this advice is particularly important in the summer, because each time you open the door the unit must work harder to return the temperature to normal. Since refrigerators are more likely to break in the summer, you might want to consider moving the appliance away from the stove and other heat sources, which also cause the machine to work harder.

Your refrigerator can be an easy tool for making tea without boiling water and heating up the kitchen. Sun tea has fallen out of favor with some people because the CDC says drinking sun-brewed tea--particularly tea without caffeine, which inhibits bacteria growth for a few hours--can make you sick. Putting cold water into a glass container with a few teabags and brewing overnight, however, is a safer way to make no-boil tea.

I like using yerba mate tea, which brews quickly in cold water anyway. Simply add the loose tea and brew for a few hours until desired strength, straining it through a fine strainer before serving. It's especially delicious with lemon or lime juice, and because you're using loose tea rather than tea bags, quite inexpensive. Be sure to wash the container thoroughly between uses.