For many of us, energy consumption ramps up during the holiday season due to seasonal festivities that require increased kitchen use
SALEM — The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that cooking alone accounts for 4.5% of total home energy use – and when you include the energy costs associated with refrigeration, hot water, and dish washing, that means as much as 15% of residential energy consumed in America is used in the kitchen.
Wondering what you can do to keep your energy use from spiking while things heat up in the kitchen this holiday season? Try adding this list of simple energy saving tips to your recipes this year:
1. Use ENERGY STAR appliances – In the market for a new appliance? Look for the ENERGY STAR label. Energy Star appliances exceed the minimum federal standards for energy efficiency, and will have a bright yellow energy guide label with the estimated annual energy use and cost. Compare labels to find the most energy efficient and cost-effective options.
2. Use smaller electric appliances – Pressure cookers, crock pots, rice cookers, microwaves, toaster ovens, and other counter top appliances use less energy than larger appliances like full sized ovens and stove tops.
3. Put a lid on it – While cooking on the stove, cover pots and pans with lids to reduce heat waste, save energy, and help food cook faster.
4. No peeking – Want to keep an eye on that delicious pie? Use the oven light. A substantial amount of heat escapes every time you open the oven door while something is cooking. Keep the door shut to save energy and cut back on cooking time.
5. Preheat wisely – Some dishes, like casseroles and certain frozen foods, don’t actually require the oven to get to a specific temperature before popping them in. Shave off some time and use less energy by skipping the preheat step if you can. If you do need to preheat, be sure to time it right – ovens preheat quickly!
6. Use glass or ceramic baking dishes – Glass and ceramic dishes retain heat better than their metal counterparts, which makes them the most energy efficient options when it comes to baking.
7. Keep your eyes on the size – When it comes to cooking, size matters. Be sure to use appropriately sized pots, pans, and burners for maximum efficiency.
8. Sharing is caring – If you have multiple dishes that need to go in the oven, put them in together when possible.
9. Don’t waste food – When you waste food, you waste all the energy and other resources that went into producing and preparing it. Get creative with leftovers, and have plenty of reusable to-go containers so you can send food home with your guests.
10. Turn your thermostat down – As things heat up in the kitchen, the rest of the house will naturally get warmer. Having a festive gathering? Turn it down even further – the extra body heat from your guests should help keep everyone comfortable.
Bonus tip: Decorating? Here’s a bright idea – make the switch to LED lights! According to Energy.gov, LEDs use up to 70 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, and they last about 10 times longer. For added savings, remember to turn your holiday lights off during the day, when you’re away, and while you’re sleeping.