What’s the Right Temperature for Your Freezer? (2023 Guide)
Most of us are only concerned if our freezer is working properly. We want to open the door and find that all our food is frozen inside. Few people know the ideal temperature of the freezer, even though setting it to the correct temperature can save energy costs, keep your food fresh longer, and increase the lifespan of your unit. If you want to know the right temperature for your freezer, keep reading as we discuss what the experts suggest and go over how to make adjustments.
Normal Freezer Temperature
Many people feel that since water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, any temperature lower than that is what the freezer should be set to. However, that is not necessarily the case. Food freezes at different temperatures based on its ingredients. Also, a large pot will take longer to freeze than a small bowl, and it can change the food’s flavor if it takes too long to freeze completely. Storing food too close to the freezing temperature also puts it at greater risk of thawing whenever the door is opened or closed, which can also change the flavor of your food and might even cause it to be inedible.
Therefore, the temperature that most experts recommend that you set your freezer to is 0 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature will ensure that your food freezes quickly and completely. It will also help ensure that the food stays frozen during a power outage or another problem. Setting it any lower will increase your energy demands beyond what you need. It can also raise your electric bill and put additional strain on the environment. It can even make the freezer run harder, causing more frequent breakdowns and shortening its lifespan.
What Causes Freezer Burn?
Some people might worry that setting the freezer to a colder temperature will result in freezer burn. However, freezer burn actually doesn’t have anything to do with the temperature setting of the freezer. Exposure to air is the cause of freezer burn, so the best way to prevent it is to pack your food as tightly as possible before placing it in the freezer so there are no air pockets. Proper packaging can greatly reduce the amount of freezer burn that you find, but it’s still safe to eat food with a bit of freezer burn on it, and if you freeze food regularly, you might find that it’s fairly common.
How Do I Set the Temperature of My Freezer?
Setting the temperature of your freezer is not difficult and only requires you to take a few steps.
- We recommend pulling everything out of the freezer and letting the unit defrost, so there is no build-up of ice that might prevent the unit from operating properly. It will also help you get the most accurate readout.
- With the food removed and the freezer defrosted, clean it thoroughly so you can start with a nice clean box.
- Place a low-cost but accurate freezer thermometer inside the freezer, then close the door and let it sit for a few hours.
- Check the temperature of the thermometer, and make adjustments accordingly by adjusting the thermostat. The thermostat is a dial that you will usually find inside the freezer or in the refrigerator part of most units. If it’s inside the refrigerator, there should be two dials, so adjust the freezer control.
- Let the thermometer sit in the freezer for another hour or two, and check it again to see if your adjustments are correct. Repeat the process until the temperature in your freezer is 0 degrees.
Chest Freezers vs. Upright Freezers
While there are many different types of freezers, the most common varieties are the upright and the chest. Upright freezers are in many homes, and a single unit often contains a freezer and a refrigerator. They come in many sizes. Some models will have the two parts in a side-by-side configuration, while others will have the freezer over the fridge or below it. You can even purchase a standalone upright freezer. The advantage of these units is that they are easy to use, and you can store items at eye level for quick retrieval. However, they usually have limited space and aren’t ideal for storing large items, like a Thanksgiving turkey, especially if you have other foods that you need to keep frozen.
Another popular freezer in the United States is the chest freezer. As the name suggests, it has the shape of a large chest, making it perfect for storing large amounts of food and keeping it frozen. The Thanksgiving turkey will not be a problem with this unit, and you can even easily store several. If you are a hunter or fisher, have a large family, or live in a rural area that requires you to make large purchases at the supermarket, you likely need a chest freezer. The downside of this type of unit is that it is essentially a large box on the floor filled with frozen food, and it can be difficult to sort through to find what you need, especially if you are not tall or are storing many items.
Tips and Tricks for Storing Frozen Food
- Let the foods cool before placing them in a freezer to reduce strain on the unit. Hotter foods might also freeze unevenly, which can change the flavor.
- Use bins and freezer bags to organize your food so it fits better and is easier to retrieve.
- Lay your items flat to minimize air pockets and maximize space.
- Wrap your foods properly to minimize air contact, which causes freezer burn.
- If you use containers, wipe them off before placing them in the freezer to reduce frost build-up.
- Labeling your items will help you retrieve them from the freezer faster, reducing the amount of warm air that can get in.
- Many foods come in bulky packaging, so repackaging them in containers can help you fit more food.
- Don’t use any liners in your freezer, as these can reduce air circulation, making the unit less efficient.
The proper temperature to set your freezer at is 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything colder will increase your environmental footprint and electric bill, while anything warmer will put you at risk of thawing your food. It might also cause your food to freeze too slowly, changing the flavor or even spoiling it. Setting the temperature is easy and only requires you to turn a knob inside your freezer or the fridge after using a freezer thermometer to check the temperature. Proper storage will help you maximize space and retrieve items faster, so the freezer doesn’t need to work as hard, helping it last longer and need fewer repairs.
Featured Image Credit: Ahanov Michael, Shutterstock