One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is actually eating the leftovers. I have started making a tradition of using leftover turkey and ham for cooking jook and ham and pea soup every year, so with a full fridge, I need to make sure our refrigerator stays in tip-top shape.

Many refrigerators require maintenance every six months. I find that making a routine of it makes it easier to remember, so I do mine near Thanksgiving and Memorial Day every year. Here’s the fridge checklist I’ll be running down this year:


• Clean the coils. The condenser coils often collect dust and other debris, which make the refrigerator run less efficiently. Find the coils, which are usually located on the back of the machine, but can sometimes be on the bottom of the front. Unplug the machine and remove the coils’ cover. Then, vacuum using the brush attachment.

• Check the temperature. For the perfect balance of energy-saving and optimal performance, set the refrigerator at 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and the freezer to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Stock up. An empty fridge uses more energy to maintain the set temperature. You let cool air out and warm air in every time you open the door (and even more if you leave it open while deciding what to eat). The more space inside, the more potential for this air/temperature swap to occur. If you have an empty fridge, fill it with gallons of water. Bonus: These can come in handy for your disaster-preparedness kit.


• Do the dollar test. First, clean the seals around the door to free them from any food debris. Then, close the door on a dollar bill along the side of your fridge and try to pull it out. Repeat this for all four sides of the door. If you can pull it out easily, you may need to adjust or replace the seals. Consult a professional to take care of this.

• Change the filter. Refrigerators with a water-dispensing system also have a filter. Changing it out regularly will help keep your water and ice clean and also help to prevent clogs and leaks within the water dispenser.

Regular maintenance not only extends the life of your refrigerator, but it can also help save money on electricity. With Christmas just around the corner and out-of-town guests coming in this year, I need as much energy savings as I can get. But perhaps even more important, I can’t risk losing the Thanksgiving leftovers.