How to save energy when you cook

There are many ways to save energy in the kitchen without making drastic changes to your regular cooking routine. Here are 15 easy energy saving kitchen tips that are not only healthy for the environment, they will also save you money.

Woman using a pot

15 Energy Saving Cooking Tips

1. Think Before You Open

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.

2. Use low energy appliances

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.

3. Use the Right Size Pots and Pans

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.

4. Use That Lid

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.

5. Use the Right Size Burner

Instead of sticking every pot on the largest burner, place smaller pots on small burners and larger pots on large burners.

6. No Need to Preheat

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.

7. Bring Food to Room Temperature

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.

8. Don’t Peak

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.

9. Use a Slow Cooker all year round

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.

10. Let Food Cool Before Storing

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).

11. Run Full Loads with the Dishwasher

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.

12. No Need to Pre-rinse

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.

13. Check the Refrigerator and Freezer Temperature

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.

14. Relocate your Refrigerator

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.

15. Use heat-proof Glass Cookware

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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