We all love opening the fridge every now and then to check if there is something to eat. But then, should a fridge door be left open? It could be that we open the fridge, then forget to close it after putting in an item, or picking something from the fridge. And this happens so often that we even consider leaving the fridge door open a normal mistake. I mean, doesn’t this happen to the best of us?


But is it really harmless to leave the fridge door open? Since the refrigerator is a crucial appliance in homes, you want to keep it working well for as long as possible. Therefore, you would do well to know the answer to this question. This article discusses whether leaving the fridge door is okay, what impact this has, and how you can use your refrigerator efficiently. So let’s get into it!


Should a Fridge Door Be Left Open?

The refrigerator door should not be left open for too long or when not in use. When the door is left open, warm air enters the refrigerator’s compartments, replacing the cold air inside. As the compressor tries restoring the cold airflow in the fridge, it works harder and uses more energy in the process. And when too much warm air enters the compartments, such as when the fridge is left open for a long time, it could spoil food items. Therefore, the door should always be closed unless the fridge is in use right now.

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Does Opening the Fridge Waste Electricity?

Yes, leaving the refrigerator door open, especially for long periods, wastes electricity and increases overall monthly bills. In fact, according to Home Energy Magazine, opening the refrigerator door accounts for approximately 7% of the total energy used by the appliance. The higher energy costs come about when the compressor works hard to restore the cold temperatures that are interrupted when warm air enters the compartments.

To determine how much electricity your refrigerator uses when the door is left open, multiply the appliance’s normal demand (805 watts) by eight hours. This should give you 6,440 watts per day, or 6.44-kilowatt hours. Since the average American pays 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, a regular refrigerator can cost you 77 cents per day, amounting to $23.10 monthly. And if 7% of these energy bills is due to opening the fridge, it goes without saying that the more often you open the appliance, the higher the electricity bills accrue and vice versa.


Will Food Spoil if the Refrigerator Door is Left Open?

For a refrigerator to work efficiently and keep spoilage of food at bay, the temperature should be maintained between 2-3°C. However, if these temperatures rise above 4°C, the chances of the bacterium Listeria developing become higher. Bacterium Listeria is the top leading cause of most food borne illnesses.

What if you forget to close the refrigerator door and leave it open overnight? Will the food items still be safe to eat? If the door was only slightly opened, the fridge remained operational all through, and the temperatures remained 40 °F or below, the food items should be safe to eat.

Similarly, if the refrigerator door was left open for less than two hours, all food items should be healthy and safe to use. However, if you are unsure of the refrigerator temperature or if the food feels warm, you should discard all perishable foodstuffs just like you would when a power outage occurs.


What Should You Do If You Forget to Close Your Refrigerator Door?

We lead very busy lives. And sometimes, we forget to close the refrigerator door after opening it. The good news is, if you accidentally forget to close the refrigerator door, you can take steps to prevent long-term damage to your refrigerator. Consider these 7 steps that, when taken, will ensure that your refrigerator does not suffer permanent damage:

  • Unplug the refrigerator from the socket.
  • Remove all the food items and check for viability – Even when left open for a short time, some foods are more prone to spoilage.
  • Defrost the refrigerator manually – Do this even if there are no frost models in the refrigerator compartments.
  • If there is any condensation or sweating in the fridge, wipe it down.
  • Check the temperature inside the refrigerator – If the temperatures are 40 °F or below, return the food as it is safe. However, if they are above 40 °F, discard all food away.
  • Close the refrigerator door and avoid leaving it open again.


Can I Turn Off the Refrigerator Every Night?

The FDA center recommended not turning the refrigerator off every night. Remember, for your refrigerator to keep all the food items cold and safe for use, the temperatures should be maintained constant at 40 °F or below. However, unlike switching off the refrigerator for a few hours, turning it off overnight would increase the compartments’ temperatures, leading to food spoilage.

In addition to your food going bad, turning off the refrigerator every night any cause your compression to work harder as it tries to balance the cold temperatures inside. Overworking your compressor may even shorten its life or damage it permanently. Hence, to avoid high energy bills and ensure the durability of your appliance, you would do well to keep your refrigerator running all night.


How Can I Keep my Refrigerator Door Closed?

Refrigerator doors are usually designed with gaskets; flexible elastic strips attached to the fridge’s outer edge or freezer. These door seals play a key role in maintaining the optimum function of your appliance, providing an airtight seal that keeps cold air in the refrigerator.

Therefore, for your refrigerator door to remain properly closed, these gaskets should function well. Otherwise, gaskets that are worn out will leak cool air from the refrigerator, causing the compressor to strain to restore the cold temperatures. So you would do well to check your refrigerator gaskets regularly and replace any that are torn or work out.



Should a Fridge door be left open? We all forget to close the refrigerator door once in a while. And while leaving the door open for a limited time may not cause great harm, you should not make it a habit to leave it open. Remember, a fridge door should not be left open when not in use, especially for extended periods. Otherwise, doing so would lead to food spoilage and even cause great damage to your investment; something I’m sure you wouldn’t want. So learn to care for your fridge by keeping the door closed most of the time!

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