As summer comes our way one appliance that you need to have working at full capacity is your freezer (see: ice cubes, ice cream, popsicles, frozen drinks etc…)

So how do you know if yours is working up to snuff?

Even though freezers don't come with an expiration date there are some easy ways to figure out if you need a new one. 

Most freezers should last 10 years.  However if yours has stopped freezing food solid then you are ready for a new one.  If your freezer has trouble making solid ice cubes then you should probably be looking for a new freezer too.

(Good news here though - a new one doesn't necessarily mean a brand new one.  One place to find quality used appliances is  If you find a deal here check to see if the unit is still under warranty and the age of the unit.  Since newer models are more energy efficient avoid buying a used unit that is over 5 years old.)

If you are in the new freezer market a good way to save money is to purchase a smaller, stand-alone unit.  The smaller the unit, the less your operating cost will be for that unit.

While the initial price is a major concern when purchasing a new unit, the operating cost is important too.  Getting Energy Star rated appliances will help you know what you can expect to spend monthly to operate that unit.

A freezer, new or old, will run more efficiently if it is full.  Having only a pint of ice cream and some ice cubes in your freezer means it is running inefficiently - there is more air to cool which makes the unit run more which costs you money.

 If this is you, (or your parents - it seems that older people tend to have less in their freezers for whatever reason) you should try 'freezer blocking'.

Freezer blocking involves filling up the empty space in your freezer with, well, stuff.  You can take, for example, an empty cardboard box and fill it with leftover wall insulation, or Styrofoam shipping peanuts or something along those lines.  Fill the box, seal it, and place it in the freezer.

The boxes will cut down on the air space that needs to be kept cold and should make your unit run less, which saves you electricity (and money!).

Blocking will work in the refrigerator as well to some extent.  Simply fill gallon milk jugs with water and place in fridge. 

Empty space in your fridge or freezer means cool/cold air that the unit must maintain, air that is lost every time you open the door.   Fill that space and your appliances will run more efficiently.

You can use the saved money on popsicles.  Or Eskimo Pies.  Or Rocky Road ice cream.  Or frozen drink mix.  Or grapes.

Frozen grapes.  Mmmmmmmmm…