You can lower your monthly energy bill and contribute to a cleaner environment without making major changes or buying expensive energy-saving gadgets. Simple changes, and thought given to energy reduction, will make a significant difference.
How to Save Energy in the Kitchen
- If washing dishes by hand, fill one basin with warm soapy water and the other with cold rinse water. This saves much more water than leaving the cold water running for rinsing.
- If you’re using the dishwasher, there is no need to pre-rinse dishes (unless your dishwasher is an old model). Be sure machine is full, but not overloaded.
- Turn off automatic air-dry switch, and let dishes dry by air. If your machine doesn’t have an air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a bit so the dishes will dry faster.
- If a small load, avoid using “Rinse-Hold”. This uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time it’s used.
- Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer’s recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (115 degrees).
- Microwaves use between one-fifth and one-half as much energy as conventional stoves.
- Microwaves are most efficient at cooking small portions and for defrosting.
- Food cooks faster when placed on the outer edges of a rotating tray rather than in the center, allowing more microwaves to interact with the food.
- Food cooks faster in a microwave as the surface-to-volume ratio increases. When cooking potatoes, for example, thinner slices will cook faster than cubed or quartered sections.
- During warm weather, microwave use minimizes radiant heat buildup from the kitchen.
This table from the Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings compares the cost of cooking a casserole in several ways. It assumes the cost of gas is $.60 a therm, and electricity is $.08 a kWh.
|$.16||Electric Oven||350||1 hour||2.0 kWh|
|$.11||Electric Convection Oven||325||45 minutes||1.39 kWh|
|$.07||Gas Oven||350||1 hour||.112 therm|
|$.07||Electric Frying Pan||420||1 hour||9 kWh|
|$.08||Toaster Oven||425||50 minutes||95 kWh|
|$.06||Electric Crockpot||200||7 hours||7 kWh|
|$.03||Microwave Oven||“High”||15 minutes||36 kWh|
Gas Stoves, Electric Ranges
- Gas stoves with an electric ignition (piezo) will use 40% less gas than one with a continuous pilot light. Burner flames on gas stoves should be blue. If flame is yellow, the ports need to be unclogged or adjusted. Ports can often be cleaned with a pipe cleaner.
- When using the oven, try to reduce the number of times you open the door while cooking. Each time the door is opened, the stove loses about 1/4th of its heat.
- Burner size: Match pot size to burner size on your stove top. Heat is lost and energy is wasted if burner size is larger than pot size. Also, clean range-top burners and reflectors to better reflect the heat, and save energy.
- Use pressure cookers. They use 50-75 percent less energy than ordinary cookware.
- On electric stovetops, use flat-bottomed pans that make full contact with the elements.
- If you cook on an electric range, you can turn off the burners or the oven before the cooking is finished, because it will take several minutes for the burners to lose their heat.
Induction cooking uses 90% of the energy produced compared to only 55% for a gas burner and 65% for traditional electric ranges.
Induction cooking is based on magnetic fields: each ‘element’ (an induction coil) generates a magnetic field that induces heat in steel cookware placed on top of it. In essence, the pot becomes the element that cooks the food, so the cooktop surface doesn’t get as hot as other cooktops. Induction cooktops have the same instant control as gas and are the fastest of all cooktop types to heat and cook food.
Sun ovens are the most energy-efficient cooking appliance.These solar powered ovens require no fuel yet can cook anything you can cook in a conventional stove. Of course they must be used outdoors in the sun. For summer cooking they also save energy by keeping your kitchen from heating up. More information about sun ovens and solar cooking.
Hybrid solar ovens are also available which have an electric backup which allows the oven to be used when sunlight is not available. Even when using the electric backup, these units use 75% less electricity than conventional electric range ovens. More information.
If your sink has a disposal unit, use cold water when operating. This saves energy used to heat the water, and is more effective at removing grease. Grease will solidify under cold water and become more easily ground up and washed away. You can give it a quick final rinse with hot water.
Installing a $5 faucet aerator is the most effective water conservation measure you can do in your kitchen. The lower flow is barely perceptible, though it will take longer to fill large pots. Water consumption and the cost of heating the water can be reduced by as much as 50%. Learn more about low-flow faucet aerators and shower heads.
- Vacuum the coils on the back of your refrigerator twice a year to maximize efficiency. Leave enough space between your refrigerator and the wall behind, as well as space to either side, so air can circulate around the condenser coils. Trapped heat increases energy consumption.
- Check the door gasket occasionally to be sure the seal isn’t broken by debris or caked on food. Test by closing the door over a dollar bill so that it’s half in and half outside of the refrigerator. If you can pull the bill out easily, the latch may need adjusting or the seal may need replacing.
- Avoid frost build-up in the freezer compartment. Frost build-up should be less than 1/4 inch in thickness. Excess frost build-up reduces the energy efficiency of the unit.
- Be sure the refrigerator isn’t located next to heat sources such as heat vents, stove or dishwasher. Even direct sun will lower efficiency – block it if possible.
- Check temperature settings. Recommended temperatures are 37 – 40 degrees for the fresh food compartment and 5 degrees for the freezer compartment. Stand-alone freezers for long-term storage should be kept at 0 degrees.
- To check the refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator and check the reading after 24 hours. To test the freezer temperature, place thermometer between frozen packages and check the reading after 24 hours.
- A new, more efficient refrigerator can typically save you $7080 per year and will pay for itself in about nine years. Older models commonly use an annual average of over 1,700 kWh, while equivalent models now use fewer than 700 kWh. This can reduce your carbon-dioxide emissions by over 1,000 pounds a year.
The refrigerator is the single biggest power consumer in most households. See our page on Energy-Efficient Appliances, which has more information on refrigerator care.
Find out what your local recycling center accepts, and get in the habit of recycling these materials. You can reduce your household waste stream between 20 – 40%, as well as reducing the energy and pollution costs associated with manufacturing more materials.
The energy you save by recycling 1 glass bottle can light a 100-watt light bulb for 4 hours.
Five 2-liter recycled plastic (PET) soda bottles can provide enough fiberfill for a ski jacket.
Recycling 1 aluminum can can save enough energy to operate a TV or computer for 3 hours. Aluminum can be recycled using less than 5 percent of the energy used to make the original product. In other words, you can make 20 cans out of recycled material with the same amount of energy it takes to make one new one. In the US alone, the amount of aluminum thrown away is enough to rebuild the entire commercial air fleet every three months!
Your suggestions are always welcome.