If you are looking to cut back on your energy usage and reduce your monthly utility bills, you should start with your appliances. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the appliances in your home account for 31 percent of your monthly utility bill. Among the many different appliances you use, your refrigerator is responsible for a large portion of that bill.

Although newer models use less energy, they aren't very affordable. Fortunately, you can make the refrigerator you have right now a little more efficient by implementing these four tips:

1.  Adjust the Temperature

The temperature you set your refrigerator at can make a huge difference in your utility bills. If you have it below 35-degrees, you are wasting energy. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, you refrigerator should be set at 40-degrees. However, if you have an older model that doesn't work as well, you might want to set it a few degrees lower.

2. Keep It Full

It might seem counter-intuitive, but keeping your refrigerator full saves energy. The emptier your fridge, the more energy you are wasting since it is cooling nothing. If you find that you do not keep you fridge very full, consider unplugging it and getting a smaller refrigerator. If you do not want to do that, place some old milk jugs filled with water in your refrigerator. It will take up some space, which will reduce the energy your fridge is using.

3. Clean It Regularly

Like any other appliance, your refrigerator needs to be cleaned regularly to maintain its effectiveness. While you probably clean the inside, you might have not cleaned the outside in a while and that's what counts. Periodically, clean the coils on the outside of your unit. Use a damp cloth, a vacuum, or a duster to remove dirt and debris. Clean coils will require less energy to keep the refrigerator cool because they are not being blocked or weighed down by dirt and debris.

4. Location and Position Counts

Most homes have the refrigerator next to the stove, but this is wrong. Having your refrigerator next to a heat source makes it work harder, which increases your utility bills. If you want to save some money, move your refrigerator away from any heat-producing appliances, such as the stovetop, oven, and dishwasher. In addition, make sure there is some space between the wall and the coils. The coils need space to work properly and to vent out air, so make sure your refrigerator isn't sitting right up against the wall or another surface.

These tips, in addition to an energy audit performed by a licensed electrician, like those at Advantage Electric, will have you saving money on your utility bills in no time.