Before you open the refrigerator and freezer, determine what you need. Searching around while the door is open wastes energy, especially in the summer when more energy is needed to keep the refrigerator or freezer cool. In the winter, you are simply letting cold air into your home.
If you are only cooking one small piece of chicken for yourself or cooking a small frozen dinner, use a toaster oven or microwave instead of your regular size conventional oven. To save energy on larger portions, consider a slow cooker.
If you are cooking a small amount of pasta or a small piece of fish, use an appropriate-sized pot or pan. It takes much more energy to heat up a larger pot of water and a large pan.
To cook your food a little more rapidly and reduce energy usage, place the lid on pots and pans while cooking or heating up, especially if they are on the stovetop.
Instead of sticking every pot on the largest burner, place smaller pots on small burners and larger pots on large burners.
Even though just about every recipe calls for preheating the oven, there really is no need to do it, except for baking. Meats and vegetables don't need to be put into a hot oven and a lot of the heat gets lost when opening the door anyway. If you are baking, you should still preheat the oven, but for the shortest time possible.
Most food items should be brought to room temperature before cooking because it reduces cooking time as well as saves energy. Leave meats, fish or vegetables (covered to prevent bacteria) on the countertop for about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking.
This is not only an energy saving rule, but a cooking and baking rule as well. Opening the door lets out a lot of heat and the oven will have to heat up again, making your food cook unevenly. If you need to check for doneness by sight, use the oven light instead.
Slow cookers aren't just for winter roasts and stews. They can cook just about anything. Even better, there is a growing selection of slow cooker cookbooks that give instructions and recipes for every meal of the day, including desserts. The slow cooker can be used all year round, saving you energy, money and time.
Before you store your leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer, let them cool down. This will prevent the refrigerator or freezer from expending more energy to stay cool as well as prevent condensation in your food containers (condensation can make food soggy in the fridge and contribute to freezer burn in the freezer).
Never run a half-full dishwasher. This handy appliance uses a lot of water and energy so make sure it is always full when turning it on.
Simply scraping food off your dinner plates will suffice; there is no need to rinse each dish with hot water. If you hand wash your dishes, fill a basin with soap and warm water instead of keeping the faucet running.
The refrigerator should be between 36 and 38 degrees F and the freezer between 0 and 5 degrees F. Keep a thermometer in each to make sure your appliances are running efficiently.
If your refrigerator is currently near the oven or a heater, move it to someplace where less heat is given off. The more heat near the refrigerator, the harder it has to work and the more energy it uses.
Cooking food in heat-proof glass dishes instead of metal pans will reduce cooking time. Glass heats better and will also cook your food more evenly than metal. When cooking with glass, you may be able to remove food from the oven about 10 minutes sooner and even reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees F. Experiment to find what works for you.
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