Each year, from Thanksgiving to Christmas and through New Year’s, friends and family gather to celebrate and enjoy the spirit of the season. While almost everyone knows they can save electric energy during the holidays by decorating with LED lights, most people do not consider the great energy-saving opportunities they have with another seasonal tradition: eating! There are several ways to avert unnecessary energy use in the kitchen. Consider a few of these tips:
Refrigerators and freezers get a real workout over the holidays. They are some of the larger energy consumers in your house, and they often account for as much as 15% of your home’s total energy usage. Help your refrigerator and freezer to operate efficiently by keeping the doors closed as much as possible. Note, however, that leaving the door open while you take out the items is more efficient than opening and closing the door several times.
Keeping your refrigerator and freezer full during the holidays is easy and energy-efficient. The mass of cold items inside the refrigerator reduces the appliance’s temperature recovery time after the door is closed. Be careful not to cram them so full that cool air cannot properly circulate around the food.
Typically, the holiday turkey, or whatever your favorite meat may be, will roast for hours. Since it is a long, slow cook, there is no need to preheat your oven. As a general rule, unless you are baking bread or pastries, you usually do not need to preheat.
Do not open the oven door to take a peek! Instead, turn on the oven light and check on the cooking through the window. Slightly opening the oven door lowers the temperature inside by as much as 25 degrees. That increases cooking time and wastes energy.
Self-cleaning ovens use less energy for normal cooking because of the higher insulation levels built into them. Consider using the self-cleaning feature right after using your oven, to take advantage of the residual heat.
When cooking on the range top, match the size of the pan to the heating element. More heat will go into the pan and less will be lost in the surrounding air. Clean burners and reflectors provide better heating while saving energy. If you need new reflectors, buy quality ones. The best on the market can save as much as one-third of the energy when compared to dull, non-reflective pans.
Other Ways to Cook
Do not overlook alternative cooking appliances during the holidays. Fast and efficient microwave ovens use around 50% less energy than conventional ovens, and they do not heat up your kitchen. They are especially handy and energy-efficient when heating leftovers.
Slow cookers (crock-pots) are perfect for many dishes. On average, they will cook a whole meal for about a dime’s worth of electricity. Also, electric skillets can efficiently steam, fry, sauté, stew, bake or roast a variety of food items, and some can double as serving dishes. If you are baking or broiling small food items, a toaster oven is ideal because they use, on average, one-third the energy of a bigger oven.