What is the Ideal Fridge Temperature?

Checking the temperature of a fridge

What temperature should a fridge be?

Getting the ideal refrigerator temperature right in your home is important for a few reasons. Firstly, the temperature of fridges in the UK is a contributing factor towards food waste. The correct fridge temperature will help you to keep your food as fresh and tasty as possible. This way you’ll be less likely to throw it away!

Another reason is that you can potentially cause yourself illness if yours is wrong. You can’t spot harmful bacteria when it appears, so you may end up causing yourself issues. If you notice undesirable fridge smells, or your fridge is freezing, your fridge temperature may need checking.

Different foods thrive at different temperatures, too. Understanding these differences will help you to improve their taste. It will also mean that you can learn how to store them better.

What Temperature Should Your Fridge Be?

The ideal fridge temperature is between 0°C and 5°C. However, the average temperature of fridges in the UK is 7°C! This means that a lot of people have their fridge temperature set too high.

You may think that your fridge is already set to the right temperature. Some fridges don’t even offer you the ability to go over 5 degrees!

But, setting your refrigerator temperature between these values doesn’t mean that your fridge is actually at that temperature. A fridge thermometer will give you a more accurate measurement. On average they tend to be within 0.5 of a degree of the actual temperature.

  • Factors such as heat generated by the fridge or external temperatures may cause the internal temperature to be higher.
A refrigeration temperature guide in Celsius

checking the temperature of your fridge with a thermometer and a glass of water

How to Accurately Check the Temperature of Your Fridge

A fridge with a built-in thermometer will give you an accurate temperature measurement. However, if your fridge doesn’t have one built-in, you will need to get a mercury thermometer. Then, follow these really easy steps to measure your fridge temperature:

  • Fill up a glass of water and place it in your fridge. For the best results, place it in the middle of your middle shelf.
  • Put a thermometer in the glass of water. Leave this overnight, without opening the door.
  • Check the temperature on the thermometer. You should do this the first time the fridge door is opened that day.

This will give you an accurate read of your fridge temperature. You can then adjust accordingly, if needed.

How to Maintain Your Fridge Temperature

A well built fridge will be able to accurately maintain your fridge temperature. However, there are still factors that can impact it. Following the below tips will help your fridge to keep running at the correct temperature.

  1. Keep your fridge well stocked. The fuller your household fridge is, the more consistent the refrigerator temperature will be. This will in turn reduce the amount of energy your fridge uses. Don’t completely fill it to the brim though. This will reduce the airflow and negatively impact your fridge’s efficiency.
  1. Don’t leave the door open for too long. The longer it is left open, the more warm air can enter. Your fridge will also need to work harder to bring the temperature back down.
  • Bonus Tip: Some fridges come with features that allow you see the contents if your fridge without opening your door! This lowers the frequency of door openings.
  1. Avoid placing hot or warm food in the fridge. Allow it to cool down first. Otherwise, it will heat up the other contents in your fridge.
  • Bonus Tip: We understand how important it is to cool down food as quickly as possible. We recommend placing contained food in an ice bath until it is cool enough to place in the fridge.
  1. Regularly check your door seals. If cold air is escaping, your fridge will need to work harder to maintain a cold environment.
Fridge temperature zones in celcius

Fridge temperature will vary throughout your fridge. The fridge door compartments will be warmer due to it receiving the most amount of warm air when opened. Cold air also sinks so your bottom shelf will be colder than your top shelf. An example of this temperature distribution can be seen above.

Fridge Organisation

Not all foods are made equal. Some need different temperatures to thrive.

For example, foods that are prone to spoiling like eggs, butter and milk shouldn’t go in the door compartments. These are exposed to room temperature the most whenever the fridge door is opened. That means it experiences more fluctuations in temperature. If your fridge door has a sealed compartment it may be okay, but it’s still better to store it elsewhere.

Keep dairy products high in the fridge and raw meat on the lowest fridge shelf. This isn’t just for temperature reasons, but also to prevent cross-contamination.

The fridge door should be used to store things like condiments (ketchup, mayo etc) or drinks. Consider some fridge organisers to help with your fridge storage.

Signs That You Need a New Fridge

A new fridge can be a big expense, so you may want to hold onto your old one for as long as possible. Sometimes though, it’s more cost effective to upgrade. Here are some signs that it may be time to replace:

  • Your food is still warm when you take it out.
  • Food is going off before it reaches its expiration date.
  • Your food is becoming frozen.
  • Ice is forming on your fridge walls.
  • There is a build up of condensation either internally or externally.

Replacing your fridge also gives you the advantage of choosing a model with a larger capacity, or helpful features. Newer models are also more energy efficient than older models, so you’ll save yourself money on your energy bill.

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