top of page

This Dust Bunny is Costing you $$$

A bunny has got to go. Don't worry though its eradication is 100% vegan-approved.

a collection of hair, dirt, dust, and debris shaped into a bunny
Furry and Ferocious is this costly Bunny

I recently lost power and while it absolutely made no difference in my getting the list of work-related tasks I had before me done, somehow in my brain it meant I could not complete any of them. Instead, I decided it was much more reasonable to clean my entire house from top to bottom. I mean how would I ever prep my ingredients downstairs when my bed upstairs had yet to be made or the window sill not yet dusted? I mean come on now! Once all the possibly procrastinatory tasks upstairs were completed I made my way towards the kitchen (my typical manufacturing workspace). I noticed a little smudge on the floor right under the edge of the refrigerator and thought well now is as good a time as any to delay what I truly should be doing. So, yeah you guessed it I pulled the fridge out from the wall and my eyes grew wide and my face filled with a mixed look caught between disgust and "what have I started this time".

One of the joys of renting is that you sometimes can blame mysterious yuckies you find in odd places on a previous tenant. To be honest with you though it's a 50/50 chance. If this monstrosity was our doing, I imagine a spilled drink crept its way farther under the fridge than anyone thought when wiping it up. It's gross, I know that, but let's be real. If you think about it most of us have some random place in our homes we never even thought to look to see if it needed cleaning before so judge away but think about that before you do!

Under the fridge was a big dark square of dried-up stickiness, dust bunnies galore, a sweet good morning note from my boyfriend, and a quarter. At least it wasn't all gross! So first things first, I vacuum up the top layer of the floor as well as the light layer of dust on the wall behind where the fridge sat so snuggly. Next, I got to business with some warm to hot water and bubbling cleansing power. After a couple of good minutes of scrubbing the floor looked brand new. But little did I know that I was in for a surprise yet again.

I figured I had already come this far so why not clean the appliances coils? I had heard of people suggesting it be done before and thought it couldn't be that complicated. My hypothesis here turned out to be true but man oh man I was not expecting the dust bunny of nightmares to have made a cozy home under there. Again, as a renter, I have no idea how old this fridge is, and it's highly likely it has never been cleaned in this particular area so one might come to the conclusion this was its first true dust bunny extermination.

So how does one kill an energy-zapping, life-sucking, money-eating monster of a dust bunny?

Now I am a very independent person. Ya know what I'm slightly more stubborn than independent because I'll ask for help on occasion but I don't like waiting for help or bothering someone so I'll make it 10x harder on myself to just get it done on my own. If you are like me, then power to you and be careful! Otherwise, it's probably a good idea to ask someone for a little help shimmying your fridge out of its little space. They can be pretty dang heavy especially when they are full. As soon as you are able to reach it, you are also going to want to unplug the appliance. This will 1) ensure you don't yank it out of the wall after a big tug and 2) is a standard safety practice when working around electrical components. If you live in a really hot area you may want to start this project during your cooler months, but regardless it should not take more than 30 minutes and most refrigerators/freezers are quite alright for about 3 hours as long as the door remains sealed to keep in that cool air.

quick and easy removal of the refrigerator's back paneling after the removal of a handful of bolts
Hard at work keeping the Dust Bunnies at Bay

Did you gather your climate-fighting gadgets?

Oops, that's right I didn't tell you what you'd need yet! Okay, no worries. All you need is a vacuum, a cloth, and depending on your model a Philips or flathead screwdriver or wrench. Oh, and I will be honest and tell you I did not use a dust mask but it is wise to do so! You'll need to look at the little bolts or screws that are holding the small section of paneling on the back near the bottom of the unit. In the front, there is usually some sort of guard with lots of slots in it like the caging around an oscillating fan. The back side of my fridge was held on by I want to say 8 bolts. I used a small wrench to remove these and set them aside in a spot I wouldn't lose them. Next, I carefully removed the two small metal panels to reveal a whole lot of dust. I carefully vacuumed the easy-to-reach areas with the smallest attachment. Next, I used a microfiber cloth to remove the excess debris from a small plastic fan. That was it for the backside! The panels went back on, and the bolts followed suit.

I was absolutely in awe of the amount of dusty debris that had gathered behind the little bumper in the front. This was held on by 2 screws on each side and with a tiny bit of pressure pushing upward, I was able to remove it easily. I took this one outside for a quick hose down to get in between the small slats with minimal effort. I gave it a towel dry and set it aside while I used a flashlight to peer into the abyss that was the dust bunny farm of freezer alley. At this point, I truly thought I had seen it all. I thought that all the debris that was to be had was gone and boy was I wrong. This was the true belly of the beast seen in the video below. Thankfully my vacuum cleaner was either brave or hungry because it sucked up just about everything in sight within 1 minute. I finished cleaning up the frame where the bumper sat with a cloth before screwing it back on and calling it quits.

Is it quits if you got the job done? Hmm.. Either way. Everything was back where it belonged including the massive amount of dust in my vacuum. Now that I am thinking about it as I write this... I should probably empty my vacuum cleaner too. Oh well, a problem for my next visit to the procrastination station.

Why did I just do all this?!

Besides the fact pulling apart an appliance was far more important at that moment than responding to emails (yes my power had turned back on at this point but I was too far gone), there is a way more inspiring reason. IT SAVES YOU MONEY! According to when these coils are found dirty from dust, lint, and/or pet hair it can "increase the energy cost of the refrigerator by as much as 35% and shortens the life of the refrigerator".

"An EPA study reported that as little as 0.042″ of dirt on condensing coils will cause a 21% drop in efficiency and can increase refrigeration energy use by 35%." – Permatron an air filter manufacturing expert

Energy efficiency is sometimes a term we hear and don't really fully comprehend. It's a label slapped on new appliances that give an added glow to the consumer but it really means something we don't always consider in the bigger picture. Increasing how efficient something is means it does more with less. If one lube technician is more efficient than his coworker he may be able to complete 3 extra oil changes in one shift for example. When we apply this to appliances we are usually not considering just the timing aspect but the resources. When discussing refrigerators this resource in particular is referred to as kilowatts or kWh which is also called a kilowatt-hour. A kW is the amount of power or rate at which energy is used. A kWh is a measurement of energy. Simply put a kW is how much power is needed by the appliance to complete its function i.e. "keeping your food cool" while a kWh is that amount of power multiplied by time (the number of hours used).

According to Direct Energy "a fridge with a top freezer from the 1980s with a capacity of 19.0-21.4 cubic feet, it's likely to use around 2,000 kWh per year" vs a "modern-era Energy Star-rated fridge, by comparison, might only use 350 kWh annually". That is a 1650kWh difference! Globally we have varying rates that we pay for our electricity. My current rate is $0.1763 per kWh which would mean that 1980's fridge would cost me $352.60 (2000kWh * $0.1763 = $352.60) annually vs the newer "energy efficient" model at $61.71 (350kWh * $0.1763 = $61.71). That is a savings of 82.5% which is crazy!

Was it worth the 30-minute or less hassle?

I have yet to get my newest electric bill which I am by no means mad about because our electric bills here in Maine are outrageously high. Seriously.. our supply company has had a few lawsuits. Yikes. Anyways... I can't tell you what we saved by a show of numbers but I can say with absolute certainty that my refrigerator is running WAY better than before and in fact, this dust bunny was costing me $$$.

Have you noticed those little numbers in the fridge "its settings" for the temperature? Ours ranges from I think 3-7 with 3 being the warmest setting and 7 being the coldest. Previously it was set to 5 and this ensured it was cold but not too cold. How can a fridge be too cold you ask? Two words. Lettuce popsicle. That's when it's too cold. The fridge will be so cold that the little vent at the top starts forming ice crystals and your veggies literally freeze. I noticed about 2 days after cleaning the coils that our lettuce was a block of ice! Okay, I am exaggerating a bit but it was indeed frozen. I had to turn the fridge settings down by 2! This means my fridge is working more efficiently by achieving the same desired result at a less aggressive power setting. Hopefully, this will help our energy bill going forward even if it's just a little bit each week. It adds up.

Remember earlier when we noted dirty coils can reduce efficiency by up to 35%? Imagine my fridge was at that cap of 35% energy reduction. In Optimal conditions, my refrigerator is rated to be running at 474 kWh. If it was hit with a 35% power increase from dirty coils it would be running at 640 kWh. The optimal cost reflects 474 * 0.1763 = $83.56, while dirty coils reflect a cost of around 640 * 0.1763 = $112.83. So in theory taking 30 minutes out of my day ended up saving me $30. Not to mention this increases the lifespan of the appliance as well. Dirty coils are actually the cause of one of the TOP reasons technicians get called out which is usually also costly. What could it save you?

I don't make $60 an hour.

Sure on a really bumpin' market day I can and then some maybe, but averaged out there's no way. As a small business owner on my own just starting up my goal is to break even lol. So, no I am not making nearly $60 an hour which is what I made by cleaning my fridge coils. All in all, I would call that a win not just for my wallet, the appliance's life span so.. really my landlord's wallet, but also the environment. Less energy usage "notably reduces GHG emissions, both direct emissions from fossil fuel combustion or consumption, and indirect emissions reductions from electricity generation" says the International Energy Agency.

Whether you do it for procrastination's sake, the environment, or your wallet...

You now have the knowledge as to how to do it safely and how it benefits you.

P.S YouTube is a helpful resource too😉

2 комментария

"Procrastination station" lol! A place I have visited many times myself. Great post, easy to follow steps for killing dust bunnies and saving some $$$! Thanks!

Jordan Mini
Jordan Mini
16 авг. 2023 г.
Ответ пользователю

Thank you! We all have one. People that say they don't cant be trusted. 😉

bottom of page