Saving Energy in the Kitchen

Kitchen Energy Saving Tips

Because of the rising cost of energy and concerns for the environment, we are all trying to to figure out ways to save on our energy consumption everywhere we can think of. Although there are many ways to reduce home energy use, we seldom think of saving energy in the kitchen. When it comes to food preparation, storage and everyday kitchen tasks, conserving energy isn't typically the place we go to first to begin cutting back. Actually, the kitchen accounts for at least 15% of the energy usage in the home, which makes it a great place to save energy and money. Here I have listed many ways for you to begin cutting energy costs in your kitchen.

Use CFL or LED Light Bulbs

We often think about replacing light bulbs throughout the house, yet seldom remember the bulbs in the kitchen. Replacing the bulbs in the kitchen may be the most important bulbs to replace since we spend so much time in the kitchen preparing meals for our families.

By making the decision to use either CFL or LED light bulbs instead of incandescent light bulbs, you will be able to save more than 60% of the cost of lighting compared with usage . These energy saving  lamps are a little more expensive but the cost is easily recovered because of its longer life and because of the energy saving features of the bulb.

Operating a Dishwasher Efficiently


It takes the same amount of water and electricity to wash a small load of dishes in the dishwasher as it does to wash a full load, so make sure the dishwasher is loaded to full capacity before running it.

Better yet....

Don't use the dishwasher at all. My monthly electric bill dropped by $50 a month when I quit using the dishwasher and started washing the dishes the old school way - by hand. Multiply that by 12 and you are saving $600 a year, just by hand washing dishes. The only thing I use the dishwasher for now is to hold the just washed dishes as a dish drainer where the dishes air dry. I save on electricity and I don't need to have an unsightly dish drainer sitting on the counter taking up space.

Prior to washing dishes either by machine or by hand, scrape leftover bits first rather than wasting hot water to rinse them off of the dishes first. If you chose to continue using the dishwasher don't use the pre-rinse cycle. It is not necessary on modern dishwashers and is just an energy consumer. Don't use the drying cycle either if you are able to preset the machine. They will dry just fine by air and you'll save a ton on the electric bill.

Clean Appliances Save Energy

Clean appliances on a regular basis to keep them working efficiently. Dirt, dust, and especially kitchen grease, interferes with the efficiency of appliances and makes them have to work harder, which in turn uses more electricity. That goes for the inside of the oven too. If burnt , spilled food isn't cleaned up it leads to inefficiency heating which of course uses more energy.

Choose the Appliance to Fit the Job

There isn't any logical sense in using a big stand up mixer to beat a few eggs that could easily be done with a hand mixer, or better yet, by hand with a wire whisk.

When shopping for small appliances look for appliances that are energy savers. Even if they cost a little more to purchase, they will save you in the long run. For small appliances, they are usually only a few dollars more in cost.

Saving Energy at the Stove

Unless there is a really big meal to be prepared give the oven and burners a rest. Electric ovens use a lot of electricity. Keep in mind, the smaller the oven, generally the less energy the appliance will use.

As an energy saving alternative, use the microwave or a toaster oven. It is a waste of energy to heat a big oven up to reheat one slice of pizza, when a toaster oven will work just fine.
If you have a pressure cooker or a crock pot, these can also be used as energy, money, and time savers. Even though a crock pot can be left on all day they still consume less energy than using the stove.

Simple meals can be made using the microwave rather than heating the oven or stove top. For example, frozen vegetables are much better microwaved in a dish covered with plastic wrap for 3 minutes, rather than cooked on top of the stove for 20 to 30 minutes, and homemade beans take much less time in the microwave than in the oven. There is no longer any reason to cook beans on the stove for hours when you have a microwave to use instead. Cooking time is also cut in half by using the microwave. .

When forced to use the stove top, the closer the bottom of the pan that is being used for cooking matches the heating element ring of the stove, the more energy is saved. Too much flame for the pan and you are paying for heating the air around it. If using an electric stove, setting the stove top burner at the Med-High setting instead of the High setting will also save as not as many of the hob coils will heat up. On the Med-High setting, the inner coils
heat up, not the outer coils, which supplies more than enough heat to bring anything to a boil. If using a gas stove, the flame should not be coming up around the sides of the pan to heat the air. Be sure to adjust the flame to burn under the pan.

Don't take the lid off a pot while the food is cooking. Leaving the lid securely on the pot will make food cook quicker, and water will come to a boil faster, because the heat is being contained in the pot.

Using Your Oven Effectively

Preheating the oven, prior to roasting or baking a casserole is also an unnecessary waste of energy. Preheating is only necessary for some cake and cookie recipes, but not for anything else.  With an electric stove, the oven and the top burners can be turned off prior to the end of the cooking time and the food will continue to cook in the contained heat. Don't open the oven door of the oven while it is in use as this will lower the temperature by 25% because of allowing the heat to escape.

If at all possible buy a gas oven instead of an electric oven. Gas is a much cheaper and more efficient way of cooking. Gas stoves are also less polluting than electric.

Solar Cooking as an Alternative

Solar Cooker
During the summer months, you can save on electricity by cooking outdoors.using a solar oven and grilling your food instead of heating up the kitchen with a hot stove. Keeping the heat outside reduces the need for turning on the air conditioning to cool off a hot kitchen. You will save a bunch of energy and money by cooking this way and it's  lot more fun too.

Solar ovens are nothing new, they are now just better designed than the homemade ones that we used back in our hippy-dippy

days that we made out of cardboard boxes and aluminum foil . People all across the globe have been using solar ovens for centuries. People such as the Bedouins in the Middle East deserts all the way to the Tibetan Sherpas of the Himalayan Mountains.

With today's advancing technology, solar ovens are being produced that are comparable to conventional ovens and the companies that are manufacturing them are ready to move into the mainstream as the trend continues to grow.

Solar ovens have become quite trendy as more and more people are figuring out ways to get off the grid. or because of their interest in being carbon-neutral and "going green".

Others have bought solar ovens as a way of preparation in the event of disaster such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorist attack or just loss of power from an over taxed electric grid. When disaster strikes and  wipes out power for days, or weeks, solar cookers will come in handy as a way to cook without having to rely on electricity.

In this day and age it just makes sense to invest in one. Because of their portability they can easily be taken along on a camping trip to enhance the food experience in the great outdoors.

Let the Refrigerator Cool the Food Not the Kitchen

Leave the refrigerator door closed. Make a decision on what you need to take out to eat before opening the door and letting all of the cool air escape. Each time the door is open, 25% of the cool air escapes and the refrigerator has to get back to work burning electricity to bring the temperature back to it's setting.

Don’t overload the refrigerator or the freezer. The cold air needs to be able to circulate around the food to work effectively. When it is not over packed the food stays fresh longer and it maximizes the refrigerators efficiency.  The freezer does need to stay full; however, not so much that the air vents are blocked, preventing circulation of the cold air.

Avoid using disposable plastic containers for storing food in the refrigerator. Plastic is not biodegradable and will only end out polluting a land fill. The chemicals used in the production of plastic will also leach out into your food and beverages. You may not be able to taste it, but it is still there being ingested right along with your food. Using glass containers to store food is much greener and healthier way to go.