Preparing food is one of the most important functions in a family home – after all, everyone needs to eat every day. For busy families wondering how to save energy while in the kitchen, there are ample opportunities to cut down on your gas and electricity consumption while still cooking healthy, tasty meals. Read on for tips on cooking energy conservation and how to develop the most energy-efficient cooking methods so you can save time, fuel and money while preparing delicious meals.
Use Your Microwave and Toaster Oven
For some meals, only a conventional oven will do. However, many smaller servings of food can be cooked perfectly well, if not better, in the microwave or a toaster oven, at a fraction of the energy cost. A toaster oven uses only one third to one half as much energy as your standard oven, while a microwave cuts down on energy consumption by as much as 80 percent. Furthermore, the microwave and toaster oven won’t heat up your house as much as the oven does.
Use Your Oven Wisely
Just because you need to turn on your oven doesn’t mean you have to give up on energy efficiency. There are a number of tricks you can bring into play to keep your oven use as low impact as possible:
- Don’t open the oven door until the food is done cooking, or you need to check the temperature. You can lose 25 degrees F of heat every time you open the door, forcing the appliance to burn more energy to heat up again.
- Turn off the oven 15 minutes before your food is done. It will retain its heat and continue to cook the meal without consuming any additional energy.
- Cook multiple dishes at a time. If you have to fire up a big oven, take advantage of the space and throw in more than one item to minimize the amount of time you need to have the heat on while maximizing the amount of ready-to-go food.
Conserve Energy Cooking with Your Stovetop
Careful attention to how you use the range on the stove can also bring you efficiency benefits:
- Put lids on your pots and pans when you can to help them heat up faster and retain the heat better.
- Use a kettle to boil water instead of a saucepan, or better yet, get a dedicated electric water boiler.
- Match the size of your pots to the burners so you aren’t wasting energy on heat that will only dissipate into the air around the cookware.
- Keep the pans under your burners clean and shiny so they reflect heat more efficiently up onto your pots and pans.
Purchase More Efficient Appliances
If you invest in energy-saving appliances or have the ability to choose them for your rental home, you’ll realize the benefits of conservation every time you turn them on. While the federal Energy Star program does not issue ratings for residential commercial ovens, toasters or microwave ovens, you can still find more efficient appliances with a little research of your own:
- Use a gas oven and range if possible, as these are significantly more efficient than electric stoves
- Consider a convection oven, with uses internal fans to heat up foods faster, meaning you spend less on electricity or gas to cook your meal.
- Look for an oven with a self-cleaning setting. The big takeaway isn’t the cleaning function (although that can be useful), it’s the insulation built into these ovens that allow them to contain extremely high heat, which means more warmth will stay inside even when baking at standard cooking temperatures.
Once the meal is done, you can also save electricity by storing the leftovers in a modern, Energy Star compliant refrigerator as opposed to an older power-guzzling model.
Unlock the Benefits of Meal Prepping
One way to save both time and energy is to take care of an entire week’s worth of cooking in one fell swoop. Rather than run the blender, oven and whatever other kitchen appliances you need multiple times over the course of the week, try preparing the bulk of the food you need in one session and storing it until you’re ready to eat it. That way, it’s ready to go when you are, without necessitating more time-consuming preparation. What’s more, it means you only need to heat up the kitchen by running the oven once per week, which will help you cut down on the cooling load on your air conditioner.
Another benefit of meal prepping is that it’s more energy-efficient to keep your fridge and freezer full, so all that food will help reduce your refrigerator’s share of your electricity bill as well.
Take Advantage of Electricity Deals
Truly savvy chefs can find even more ways to improve their meal planning efficiency. Cooking in bulk reduces the amount of energy you use to begin with, and if you shop around for the right electricity deals, you can increase your savings even more. First Choice Power offers free weekend electricity, which means you can prep an entire week’s worth of meals on Saturday or Sunday without adding a penny to your electric bill.