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Readers Respond: Tips for Saving Energy in the Kitchen

Responses: 12


Much talk is given on how to save money in the kitchen - shopping wisely, planning meals, making the most of seasonal produce … you know the story. Another way to save even more, however, is to look at the energy you use, and I'm not talking about sitting down whilst cooking. Energy bills in the home have risen to frightening levels in recent years and one room where savings can be made, easily and simply is in the kitchen. Do you have any tips to share?

Fast Cooker That Leaves Less Heat Behind

Our kitchen has an older conventional double oven and a glass cooktop. We like to use them in the winter because they are great room heaters. Whenever we can and especially in the summer, we avoid them in favor of our over-the-cooktop microwave with halogen cooking elements. It does most things an oven does but with microwave speed and it leaves minimal heat lingering in its stainless steel cooking chamber. They are not a budget appliance, but when cooking time and energy savings are considered, they are hard to beat. How about a frozen pizza in 14 minutes with no pre-heating?
—Guest Doug

Remove the Heaters in your 'Fridge

For every penny you spend for the electricity to run those 40 watt bulbs in your refrigerator and freezer when you open the door, your refrigerator spends an additional 1.5 cents to remove that heat from inside the refrigerator/freezer. If you aircondition your house 24/7 like we do during the summer, your AC spends an additional 2.2 cents to remove that same heat from your house. In the end, every cent spent running a light bulb in your refrigerator actually costs you about 4.7 cents (1+1.5+2.2) during the summer when you consider the inefficiencies of moving heat out of a place where you don't want it. Switch from 40 watt bulbs to small 2 watt LED bulbs and make it easier on your refrigerator and your electric bill. They give enough light to do what has to be done.
—Guest Doug

cook in batches, at night

i've found that if i cook several meals, at once, at night when it's cooler, i generate less heat in my kitchen,and give myself more variety in what i serve my family. the chicken i cook can be eaten either warm or cold, and if i cook enough, then we have chicken salad, as well. if i cook a steak, we have a meal of that, plus i'll cook enough so that i can make pepper steak, or steak sandwiches. i'll make enough, in general, to support a few meals worth of food. even something like lentils and rice, (which is a hot weather favorite of ours) can be made in a large enough pot so that all the hard work is done, and dinner is almost ready at any time.
—Guest tuxey

Rice in Bed

When I lived in Germany, my husband would make "Reis im Bett" which means you add rice to boiling water, bring it back to a boil for a few seconds, then wrap it in a couple towels and a big down comforter and when dinner is ready, you go get the rice from the bedroom. Of course, I never got it to work quite right (his was always perfect), but many health food stores sell Styrofoam rice cookers - put the rice/boiling water pot into the tightly fitting Styrofoam and a couple hours later, the rice is done. I also, always wanted to try and make a solar oven. They are trying to integrate them into homes in South Africa , which I find fascinating.
—Guest Jen

energy saving tip for cooking pasta

If you are cooking pasta, read the label and find out what the cooking time is (usually any time between 8 and 12 minutes). Bring the water to the boil, drop in the pasta and let it boil for 3 minutes. At that point, switch off the heat, put a dishcloth/T-towel over the top of the steaming pot, and place a lid on top of that too. Calculate the remainder of the cooking time and strain the perfectly cook, al dente pasta! Try it, it works! I read about it in a book I bought many years ago fromt the Pasta Museum in Rome, which has since closed down unfortunately.
—Guest jojo

Keep the fridge closed.

Instead of running back and forth from the fridge to the stove, I get everything out of the fridge at once, so I don't have to keep opening and closing the door. Just a small tip, but it can really add up!

Unplug the Microwave

Unplug your appliances (microwave, coffeemaker, toaster) when you aren't using them. Those devices are drinking up energy even when they are off if they are plugged in.
—Guest Gigi

Cook in season

I worry less (relatively) about energy consumption in the winter, because the stew I slowly simmer also helps heat the house. In summer I prepare lighter, quicker to cook (assuming they're cooked at all) dishes. During the summer I also cook outside as much as possible, to avoid heating the house.

Double up

I try to plan in two ways to save energy - 1) my own energy and time, and 2) that of electrical appliances. I have a large family, so it really helps to make enough of some dishes to stretch to another meal, or to have enough of something to double as school lunches. My stove top is gas, which is very efficient, even for slow-cooking, but my oven is electric. So, instead of baking just one item, if the oven needs to get turned on to bake sandwich rolls for example, I'll plan to have a cake ready to go in as soon as they're done. Or, I'll bake extra batches of cookies or other sweets to freeze.
—Guest Christine

Strike while the oven is hot

I try to make use of a hot oven by cooking two meals at once.

Pressure Cooker

Rather than simmer soups and stews for hours on the stovetop, we use our pressure cooker. A pressure cooker will cook meat or beans until tender in 30 minutes or less. It saves us time and lots of energy.

Cook in Batches

When I cook soups, stews, casseroles, sauces and gravies I always make a large batch. I use what I need and then freeze the rest in manageable portions. I am more likely to reach for a ready made meal already in the freezer than starting from scratch. Saves my energy as well as the gas and electric.

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