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We are all thinking about keeping our electric bill in bounds. One way to do that is to keep your refrigerator and freezer, if you have one, running efficiently.
Be sure to vacuum the condenser coils on your refrigerator at least once a year. You may have to pull your appliance out from the wall to do this, but when the coils are dusty, it keeps the fridge from cooling efficiently.
If you have an older fridge, check the door gaskets to make sure you have a tight seal and aren't losing cold air around the doors.
Another "small" thing you can do: when you are putting away your groceries after a trip to the store, gather all your items for the fridge in one place. Then you can open the refrigerator one time and put everything inside.
If you don't have a frost-free freezer and there's more than 1/2 inch of frost built up, it's time to defrost. You can speed up the process by setting pans of hot water inside. Never use a knife to try to dislodge the frost and never use a hair dryer to melt it. Water and electricity do not mix!
Now that it's clean and defrosted, keep your freezer efficient by filling empty spaces with old milk jugs filled with water. These jugs also make good ice blocks for your picnic cooler!
Another good use for these jugs of ice: set one on the kitchen counter in the morning. As the ice melts, your children can have ice water to drink without opening the refrigerator door.
One last thing to remember, when there's lightning around, it might be safer to just unplug your fridge and freezer. Food in the freezer will stay frozen for up to 48 hours if the door is kept closed. Food in the refrigerator will keep up to 24 hours.
Cyndi Roberts is the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter "1 Frugal Friend 2 Another", bringing you practical, money-saving tips, recipes and ideas. Visit her online at http://www.cynroberts.com to subscribe and receive the Free e-course, "Taming the Monster Grocery Bill".