What temperature should a fridge be? How to run your appliance more efficiently

A fridge with the doors open and vegetables and milk inside
Keep an eye on your temperature settings to maximise the energy efficiency of your fridge (Image credit: Getty)

Many of us use our fridges every day yet rarely ask ourselves what temperature should a fridge be.

However, you can improve the energy efficiency of your fridge freezer by keeping an eye on the temperature setting, as well as a few other tweaks. 

A fridge that operates at the right temperature can also prevent food from spoiling quickly or, at the other end of the scale, stop non-frozen foods from icing up.

As Omar Idrissi, a specialist at ADK Kooling, puts it: “Our fridges run for 24 hours a day, every day, making them one of the most costly appliances in our homes.

“With energy bills on the rise, households up and down the country are looking for savvy ways to save money and the first place we recommend the look is their fridge freezers.” 

What temperature should a fridge be?

According to retailer Currys, the ideal fridge temperature is between 3°C and 5°C.

Your freezer temperature should be at -18C. Once you change the temperature, your fridge will likely take about 24 hours to adjust.

If your fridge doesn’t have a temperature readout, the easiest way to check the temperature is to place a thermometer in a glass of water and leave it in the fridge overnight. You can then check the temperature after opening the door for the first time.

For a freezer, place the thermometer between bags of frozen vegetables, leave overnight, and check the temperature in the morning.

If you want to know how energy-efficient your fridge is, you can check the energy rating for appliances label.

A dark silver fridge with kitchen units built around it

To test the temperature of your fridge leave a thermometer in a glass of water inside the fridge overnight (Image credit: Fisher & Paykel)

How do I adjust the temperature of my fridge?

Many modern fridges, such as the Bosch Serie 4 Freestanding 65/35 American Fridge Freezer, have a digital display or touch screen that allows the owner to simply press up and down buttons to change the temperature.

If your fridge has a dial thermostat, turn it to a lower or higher number to change the temperature.

Some fridges have a sliding gauge thermostat, where you can push the slider to the right to make the fridge cooler.

Is a fridge colder on 1 or 5?

Many fridges don't show the temperature but work on a 1 to 5 temperature setting. The higher the setting, the cooler the fridge will be, so for maximum chill choose setting 5.

Also, make sure fridge feet levels are even. If there is a tilt, the coolant in your fridge can pool in the pipes, making the pump work harder and making the refrigerator less efficient. You may not even realise it, but a tilted fridge could mean that your refrigerator is using more energy than it needs to.

Allow a gap for ventilation. Make sure that your refrigerator can breathe. Without proper ventilation, you can damage the fridge and cause it to consume more energy. You'll need at least a quarter-inch gap for ventilation on the sides of the refrigerator as well as one inch on the back and top.

An integrated fridge with food inside

On the dial setting, the 1 is warmer and the 5 is cooler (Image credit: Marlow Stone fridge)
Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.