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What Is The Ideal Refrigerator Temperature?

by Isabelle

In order to properly preserve your food, it is vital to keep your refrigerator at the right temperature. This allows your food to stay fresh longer and slows down the development of microbes. Not to mention that it also lets you save on your electricity bill!

As a rule, the interior temperature of a refrigerator varies between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius.

However, there are a number of subtleties that are good for you to know. We have provided below a few tips on how to best manage your refrigerator temperature.

How to store food according to refrigerator temperature

Did you know that the temperature is not the same at different levels of your refrigerator? For example, on the middle shelf, the average temperature is approximately 5 degrees Celsius. The coldest area is the lowest level, where the temperature is about 2 degrees Celsius.

This is why you should place different foods on different levels, depending on their needs in term of temperature:

  • Store your meat and fresh fish in the coldest spot (bottom shelf).
  • Store your dairy products and deli products on the middle shelf.
  • Store your fruit and vegetables in the bottom drawers.

Does the quantity of food have an impact on refrigerator temperature?

Although there is no specific rule on the matter, you should avoid overloading your refrigerator. This can prevent the free circulation of air, which impedes the proper distribution of the different food-safe temperatures zones inside the refrigerator.

Even though some refrigerator models (ex.: Bosch, While, GE, and Frigidaire) cool your food faster than others, it is wise to not push the limits by keeping too great a quantity of provisions. However, at the other extreme you should also keep in mind that a refrigerator left virtually empty will consume more energy than a well stocked one.

Does refrigerator size have an impact on its ideal temperature?

Each refrigerator has its own specifications, particularly as regards energy consumption. This is why, if you wish you avoid unpleasant surprises, it’s important to consult the specifications label inside the freezer. Should you tear this label off by mistake, you can always find the information on the Internet or by consulting your retailer.

However, whether your refrigerator has a capacity of 100 L or 500 L (L for "litre": the unit used to measure a refrigerator’s storage volume), you must comply with the same guidelines.

How to keep a close eye on refrigerator temperature

In some cases, your refrigerator can represent up to 25 percent of your monthly electricity bill. This is why it’s important to find the correct food safe temperature to avoid wasting food and electricity.

A good way to monitor refrigerator temperature is to get a small thermometer (tube-style or dial type), which ideally should be placed at top of the refrigerator. This enables you to get regular accurate temperature readings and thus be reassured that your food is being well preserved.