Energy Saving Cooking and Entertaining Tips
By: Elizabeth Eckhart
Hosting a party or cooking for family and friends can add to your already high utility bills and increase your carbon footprint as well. Here are some simple tips to reduce your energy consumption when cooking and entertaining.
Energy Saving Cooking Tips
To save energy in the kitchen, use a pot or pan that’s the same size as the burner to reduce the amount of heat loss.
Using a pot or pan that’s smaller than the burner will cause more heat (and energy dollars) to be lost to the surrounding air. In addition an exposed heating element or gas flame can pose a safety hazard. Using a pot or pan that’s larger than the burner will cause the food to take longer to heat.
When selecting a pot or pan for cooking, choose the smallest size that can handle the job at hand. Also, pots with a flat bottom transfer heat much better on electric burners than rounded or warped ones.
Cooking more than one dish in your oven at the same time—either side by side, or on different racks—can save energy, though it may increase the cooking time needed by 10% to 20%.
Put dishes that have to cook longer in the oven first, so they’ll all be ready at the same time. If a dish must be cooked alone, avoid letting the oven cool before heating the next course.
Convection ovens, which use a fan to circulate heat, are about 20% more energy efficient than conventional ovens. When using a convection oven, you may need to reduce the cooking time and/or temperature since the food cooks faster.
Opening the oven door while it’s on reduces the oven temperature and increases the cooking time. Instead, turn the oven light on and check the food through the glass door, and keep the oven door closed until the dish is ready.
A microwave uses much less energy than a conventional oven, so use it for warming and cooking when possible.
Refrigerator Energy Saving Tips
Keeping your fridge too cold wastes electricity and runs up your energy bills. The temperature in a refrigerator should be set at 35° to 38° F (2° to °3 C) with the freezer set to 0° F (-18° C). Use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature setting.
Open refrigerator doors as little as possible and keep them open for as short a time as possible. Allow leftover food to cool down before storing it in the fridge to keep the appliance from having to work harder than needed.
Dishwasher Energy Saving Tips
Using a dishwasher requires less water than washing dishes by hand. Newer models have energy-saving cycles and air-drying functions that make them even more eco-friendly.
If you have leftover food on the plate, scrape it off instead of rinsing to save water. If you do rinse dishes, use cold water to cut down on water heating costs.
Run the dishwasher only when full, and turn off the heated drying cycle. Instead, open the door after the cycle has ended, and then allow the dishes to air dry to save energy.
Lower the Thermostat
You can also reduce your energy bill by turning down the thermostat in your house when cooking and before hosting parties or dinners.
The average person gives off about the same amount of heat as a 100-watt incandescent light bulb. The more people you have in your home, the more body heat that will be produced.
Lowering the thermostat from 72° to 67° F (22° to 19° C) before your guests arrive will save energy and keep your house from feeling stuffy.
Better yet, before the festivities and cold months really take off, consider contacting your energy provider and opting for natural gas or researching renewable energy plans.
By cooking and entertaining responsibly, your home can remain green and environmentally friendly when you cook and entertain.
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