Can I Unplug My Refrigerator Overnight To Save Energy?

It takes a lot of energy to run a refrigerator; so much so that they can make up a fair chunk of our monthly electricity bill. Sometimes, it may be so high that we are tempted to think: “why don’t I just unplug my refrigerator overnight to save energy?”. It sounds like a fool-proof plan, but it is misguided.

Refrigerators are designed to work 24/7. Otherwise, it can make room for microbes to grow on our food and cause spoilage or food poisoning. Also, modern refrigerators are now 5x more energy efficient than those from the 1970s, making the savings that you think you will have negligible. This is why it is not recommended to unplug your refrigerator overnight.

In this article, we will debunk the common notion that you will reap savings when you unplug your refrigerator overnight.

Does unplugging your refrigerator overnight save you money?

Let’s get straight to the facts, shall we? In our previous article, we’ve calculated that the average power consumption of a refrigerator is 1.13 kWh per day.

Since we are already given the kWh/24h figure, we need to convert this to just kWh so that we can change the number of hours in use. So, if we divide 1.13kWh/24h by 24 hours we will get 0.047kW/h

With this, we can now compute the daily electricity bill with the following computation:

Energy Consumption x Hours of Use x Power Rate = Daily Electricity Cost

We will have two computations: one will show the electricity cost at a full (a) 24 hours, while the other will be only for (b) 16 hours. This assumes that you’ll be sleeping for 8 hours and that the power rate is at ₱9.744/kWh.

Here is the full computation:

Hours of UseEnergy
Power RateDailyMonthlyYearly
24 hours0.047kWh₱9.744/kWh₱11.0₱329.7₱3,956.8
16 hours0.047kWh₱9.744/kWh₱7.3₱219.8₱2,637.9

The difference is only ₱109.9 per month, which translates to ₱1,318.9 per year – on paper at least.

The cons of turning off your refrigerator overnight

There are several reasons why you shouldn’t unplug your refrigerator overnight – reasons that are worth more than ₱109.9 a month.

Can cause spoilage and food poisoning

It takes around 4 – 6 hours for your refrigerator to retain its cold temperature without power. If you let the temperature rise too much, it can increase the growth of bacteria, which can lead to spoilage and food poisoning.

Refrigerators are advised to be kept at a temperature of 1°C – 3°C at all times to keep your food safe. Anything above 4°C can speed up the growth of harmful bacteria in the food. Food poisoning is surely not worth it.

Warning: Food poisoning is a serious matter. When in doubt, throw it out!

You will use more energy trying to get the temperature back down again

When you are starting with a warm refrigerator, it is recommended that you will run it at a maximum setting for at least 4 hours. This will allow it to reach the optimum temperature to cool your food safely. Needless to say, running it at max will consume more energy than normal.

It’s too much hassle for so little

Do you mind doing this little extra chore every day for years on end to save ₱109.9 a month? I’m sure I won’t. Besides…

There is a chance that you might forget to turn it back on

Just imagine forgetting to turn your refrigerator back on after you wake up. Mounds upon mounds of food wasted, basically for nothing!

The verdict: don’t bother at all

Look, we know money is tight right now, but trying to save money this way will provide negligible effects. Worse, you can end up spending a lot more to replace all of the spoiled food, and even the bills when you end up at the ER for food poisoning.

Just don’t bother at all.


Rutt, R. (2017, November 13). Can i cut my energy bills by turning off my fridge freezer at night? This Is Money.

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