Save energy in the kitchen
By: Alexandra Dunsford-White
07 Apr 2020
There are many ways to save energy in your home that can be incorporated into your daily life without much hassle.
One way you may not have considered yet, is to conserve energy while cooking and preparing meals at home. Keeping energy efficiency in mind in the kitchen is not only good for the environment, but it’ll also help you save money on your energy bills.
The kitchen is an integral part of any home - it’s where you start your day by making your morning cuppa and end it off by preparing your evening meal (or, for those of us with a sweet tooth, that post-dinner treat). And now that we’re at home more than usual and eating out is temporarily not an option due to the coronavirus pandemic, our kitchens are getting more foot traffic than ever before.
Here are our 8 quick and easy ways to help you avoid a spike in energy use, lower your bills and still enjoy delicious food when cooking in your kitchen.
Cut down cooking time
The less time you spend cooking, the less energy you will typically use. Planning meals ahead of time can help you with this - put your frozen food in the fridge to defrost ahead of time, instead of using the microwave or oven to do it. Wait until the last minute to preheat your oven - yes, we’re all guilty of letting it preheat for longer than necessary - and try to avoid curiosity getting the better of you and opening the oven door to check on your food too often. You can also turn off your stove or oven a couple of minutes early, as the heat will continue to cook your food as you dish up.
How to use your hob
When using your hob to cook, opt for a suitably sized pot or pan for the amount of food you’re preparing. For a small portion, use a smaller pot, as a larger one will take longer to heat up and use more energy. The same goes for the hob plate you use - if it’s too big for your pan, you’ll end up wasting a lot of energy.
Energy efficiency can also be greatly reduced when your hob is grimy or blackened due to heavy use. Clean it regularly to prevent build up and make sure to wipe it down thoroughly before you start cooking.
Stock up the fridge
According to Energy Saving Trust, cooking typically accounts for 13.8% of electricity demand in homes in the UK, with freezing or cooling food requiring a further 16.8% of electricity used on average.
Your refrigerator is right at the top of the list of appliances that use the most energy in your home - it’s always running in order to perform its primary function of keeping your food cold. As a general rule, the newer your model of fridge, the more energy efficient and cost effective it is to run. Checking the energy rating sticker will give you a more accurate understanding of your fridge’s efficiency.
While we certainly don’t encourage stockpiling during this period (seriously, please don’t do it), keeping your fridge well stocked with necessary food and beverages means it will actually be using less energy to keep them cool. Take time to think if you really do need that big double door fridge/freezer combo, as all that extra space you aren’t utilising is costing you in the long run.
Guilty of spending long periods of time staring into the fridge looking for the answers to life’s questions, or the snack you swear you didn’t eat last night? Try to minimise the time you keep the door open to conserve energy.
Make the most of leftovers
Typically, cooking larger portions can help you save money. It can also help make your life easier, reduce food waste and save you time as you can freeze your leftovers and keep them for another day. Frozen home-cooked meals are also a great alternative to fast food since they are often healthier and less expensive.
By doing this, you’ll also save energy as the only output required for your next meal is only what’s needed to reheat your food. When you do, use your convection oven (if you have one) or the microwave, rather than heating it up on the stove. Depending on the model, your microwave can sometimes use more energy, but the cooking time is generally far less.
Preparing veggies for your meal? Chop them up into smaller pieces before bringing them to the boil. It’s a simple and effective way to reduce the time it takes for them to cook through.
Use water wisely
The more water you use when cooking, the more energy is required to boil it. Try to be mindful of how much you’re using by only filling your saucepan or kettle with the exact amount you need. If the recipe says one cup of water, use just that - plus a little extra to account for evaporation or spillage.
Unplug silent energy guzzlers
It takes a lot of appliances to keep an operation like your kitchen running smoothly, but you won’t be using them all at once. Many appliances will be drawing energy even when turned off (known as ‘phantom loads’) without you even realising it. Go through your kitchen and identify these silent energy guzzlers and make sure to switch them off at the wall - think your coffee machine, toaster, kettle and even your microwave. The best way to spot if they’ve still using energy even when switched off is to look to see if there are any blinking lights or digital clocks or displays.
Connecting these appliances to a powerstrip and turning it off at the source is one way to kill two (or more) birds with one stone. Using smart plugs is another alternative that will allow you to control them at the source from your smartphone.
Make the most of your dishwasher
Doing the dishes is everyone’s least favourite activity after a hearty meal, but it has to be done. Enter the dishwasher. It’s important to only run the dishwasher when full to reduce your energy usage - but not to the point where you can’t close the door! Take care when stacking the dishes inside as overfilling it can result in your crockery not being cleaned sufficiently and needing a second run.
Tempted to select the dry cycle? Resist the urge. Opening the dishwasher door to let your clean plates air-dry is far more energy efficient. Just make sure to keep the kids and your pets out of reach while doing so as your freshly cleaned dishes will be hot to touch.
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