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Five Ways to Save Energy in the Kitchen

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 27 Feb 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Energy Saving Cooking Kitchen Boil

According to some estimates, the kitchen accounts for some 20 per cent or more of the energy used in our homes – making it a great place to start cutting those bills and lessening that carbon footprint.

You certainly don’t have to change all your appliances to get started and even if you already have bought all the latest energy-efficient products you can find, these low-cost and less well known tips could still help you make a few savings while you cook.

Boil Less

No, this isn’t yet another re-hash of that old tip about only putting enough water in the kettle to make as many cups of tea as you need – although it is still a good one. Instead, what we’re suggesting here is to approach cooking – particularly vegetables – in a more energy efficient way and it’s something which is really most use for people using electric hobs.

Try turning the ring off a little while before your vegetables are fully cooked; the residual heat will keep the water hot for a surprisingly long time, especially if you leave the pan covered, allowing you to finish them off for free. With a bit of experience, you’ll get judging when to switch off down to a fine art – but do make sure everything’s properly cooked before you serve it!

Steam Food

Taking this idea one step further, try steaming your food. There are some great designs of stacking steamers available which will let you cook two or three different kinds of vegetables on a single ring – which is a useful tip whatever type of cooker you use.

As well as saving energy – and money – steaming tends to be quicker, uses less water, doesn’t fill your kitchen with steam and is widely said to be a healthier method of cooking as it is supposed to leave more of the natural vitamins in the food.

Plan Oven Use

Go back a generation or two and nobody would have thought to heat an oven up to cook just one thing if they could possibly avoid it – and it’s a useful tip for us to re-adopt today.

A lot depends on what you’re making, but if you can cook several items for the same meal in the oven – rather than having the grill and the hob blazing away as well – it makes pretty obvious sense to do so. Equally, if you can use the warm oven to cook something else after you’ve finished what you’re currently making, your energy bills will soon see the benefit.

Read The Recipe

Planning your meals ahead of time and making sure you have all the ingredients to hand can also offer another way of saving a bit of energy. For one thing, it means no more forgotten items which need a separate trip to be collected, but perhaps most importantly it should stop you having to open and close the fridge and freezer on five different occasions – and the associated waste of energy that happens, every time you do.

It’s the sort of tip you can use as much or as little as your own nature and approach to cooking allows. If you’re the highly organised sort, you can use it to save power and pennies while planning menus for a week or even a month in advance; for more impulsive types, getting everything sorted for this evening will help you cut your bills. It’s a wonderfully flexible technique and one that can help you avoid any last minute panics over any crucial ingredients that seem to be missing!

Not So Cold

While we’re on the subject of kitchen fridges and freezers, it’s worth remembering that their job is to chill and preserve, not encase everything in a layer of ice to rival a woolly mammoth carcass frozen deep in the Siberian permafrost!

Assuming you’re really not providing an impromptu holiday home for passing penguins, you probably don’t need to be using the maximum setting, so turn the thermostat up a bit – however bizarre an idea that may sound. Of course, you need to make sure that the food you’re storing stays safe to eat, but that doesn’t mean you have to waste energy to achieve it.

None of these tips is going to make a huge difference to your carbon footprint or your bills on its own, but they can be useful additions to your wider energy saving strategy and as that well-known supermarket slogan goes, “every little helps”.

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