Summer months are great for grilling. And that means you don’t have to use electricity to operate the oven or stove—or cool a hot kitchen. It’s a great way to be energy efficient and save, but don’t stop there. Use these simple tips to keep your food—and your bill—cool this summer:

  • Fill the fridge. Full refrigerators and freezers don’t have to work as hard to cool the warm air that enters when you open the door. If you are busy freezing fresh vegetables from the garden for winter use, this should be easy. If not, use jugs of water or ice bags in the freezer to keep your fridge full and cool.
  • Do some maintenance. When was the last time you moved your refrigerator away from the wall? When the deliveryman put it there? Pull the unit away from the wall and spend a few minutes cleaning the coils. When the coils are clean, the refrigerator cycles on and off less, saving you money.
  • Wait to put the leftovers away. If those burgers are still hot from the grill, let them cool off a little before you put them in the fridge. Of course, health and safety come first, and you should never consume food that has been sitting out too long, but waiting just a few minutes to put hot food away will mean your fridge isn’t working as hard to cool it down.
  • Check your settings. You probably don’t need to keep your refrigerator and freezer on the coldest settings. Your refrigerator can be set between 36 and 38 degrees, while your freezer can be set anywhere from 0 to five degrees.
  • Shut the door. The more you open the door of your refrigerator and freezer, the more cold air escapes and warm air gets in. Of course you have to open the door to get food in and out, but an organized fridge means less time spent staring at a mystery item and moving pizza boxes around to dig for that much-coveted piece of lemon icebox pie.
  • Consider getting rid of that extra fridge or freezer in the garage. If you aren’t really using it, that old fridge is costing you a few dollars every month to cool a few cans of soda. That adds up throughout the year. Is it worth it?
  • If you do decide to get rid of the refrigerator in your garage, or if it’s time to replace the one in your home, don’t just leave it at the dump. There are recycling programs that help you get rid of your old refrigerator responsibly. Some retailers will take your old appliance and make sure the materials in it will be reused or properly disposed of, and many cities will pick up large appliances as well.
  • Visit energystar.gov before making a purchase. Their refrigerator retirement savings calculator (http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=refrig.calculator&) can be a big help, and their advice can help you determine the best, most efficient appliance for you.