Flash in the pan: Nine ways to save energy in the kitchen

family in the kitchen

If you’re in the habit of cooking regularly, then a big portion of your household energy bill is likely to come from your kitchen. But did you know that small changes in how you prepare and cook food can lead to big savings on your bill? 

From using more efficient appliances to simply making a few minor changes to your cooking habits, here are some tips to help you save energy in the kitchen.

1. Use the right-sized cookware for the right burner

When cooking on the stovetop, make sure you’re using the correct size pan to the correct size burner. A small pot on a large burner means all that extra heat is wasted, which is not an efficient way to cook. (So don’t go whipping out your largest fry pan just to cook an egg).

This applies to both electric and gas stovetops. If you can, choose an induction stovetop which uses electromagnetic technology to heat up the pot itself, rather than the stovetop surface. 

If the recipe allows, also keep a lid on your pots and pans while cooking. This will not only speed up the cooking process, but will save more energy by using less heat. 

2. Choose your appliance wisely

Generally speaking, smaller appliances use less energy. It’s simple – a toaster uses less than the grill, and a microwave uses less than an oven. 

Got a craving for a toasted sandwich? Go on, take out that sandwich press from the back of the cupboard instead of turning on the oven or grill. 

Reheating a dish or only preparing a small meal? Try microwaving it instead – it’s simply more energy efficient. 

If you haven’t already, get yourself an air fryer. They have a much shorter cooking time than a traditional oven, and use less energy when cooking. 

Even better, when it comes time to replace appliances, go for the energy-efficient option. The more stars there are in an appliance’s Energy Rating, the more energy you’ll save, which will ultimately help you save money in the long run – even if the sticker price is higher to start with. 

3. Cook multiple dishes at once

Reducing the number of times you need to use the oven can work wonders on your power bill. If you have more than one rack, try to cook multiple dishes at the same time.  

In the mood for chocolate brownies for dessert, or want to get ahead of lunchbox snacks for tomorrow? Try baking them at the same time as tonight’s casserole. This way, you won’t have to preheat the oven twice. 

If it’s just dinner you’re preparing, double your recipe and freeze the extra for leftovers during the week. Reheating a meal takes a lot less energy and effort – it just requires a bit more planning.

4. Only boil what you need

Whether you’re making pasta or putting the kettle on for a cuppa, you can save energy by only boiling the amount of water that you need. Filling the kettle with enough water for one or two cups is much more energy efficient than filling it all the way up – and it takes less time! 

Tip: Even if you are using the stove top, you can still use the kettle to boil it first, then simply transfer the water to your pot or pan for cooking. 

5. Slow cook your meals during the day

Slow cooking is an ideal way to conserve energy in the kitchen, because you can get a head start on dinner at times when energy costs less.

Slow cookers are an energy-efficient appliance that can be switched on during the day and left to cook at a low heat for a long period of time. Not only will you impress your guests with a delicious meal that builds flavour throughout the day, but you’re using less energy to do so. It’s a win-win, especially for those who work from home

6. Keep those doors closed!

Patience is a virtue. It can be tempting to take a sneak peek of your chocolate cake or breathe in mum’s Sunday roast, but opening the oven door (or taking the lid off a pot) too often will cause unnecessary heat loss and increase cooking times. 

The same goes for the fridge – don’t let all that cold air escape while you stare into the fridge trying to remember why you opened it in the first place. 

Of course, kids are naturally curious and love opening doors, so try to teach them energy saving habits like closing refrigerator and oven doors early on.  

7. Thaw your food in the refrigerator

The most energy efficient way to defrost frozen food is by leaving it overnight in the refrigerator. An added benefit to this method is that frozen foods will help cool the refrigerator down, meaning it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain its temperature.

Other methods like leaving foods to soak in water might be faster, but are generally considered not as safe due to the risk of bacteria. Any food thawed in water or by using the defrost setting in your microwave should always be cooked immediately. 

This tip requires a little more planning when it comes to meal preparation, but it’s worth it. 

8. Clean your burners and oven regularly

By regularly cleaning and removing any build up of grime in your oven or stovetop, you’ll improve their overall efficiency. Check and replace any damaged oven door seals regularly, and ensure your oven is well-insulated. A dirty oven is an inefficient oven! 

9. Switch your appliances off at the wall

Finally, this one might sound obvious, but it’s always best to switch off your appliances at the wall when they’re no longer in use. Appliances still consume energy when left on, so switch them off and unplug them at the wall to reduce standby costs. 

Of course, this doesn’t apply to ‘always on’ appliances like your refrigerator, but it’s certainly true for the microwave, kettle, coffee machine and other smaller appliances. 

By making a few small changes in the kitchen, you and your family can reduce your energy consumption and save yourself money and time – without sacrificing a delicious meal!

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