Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Saving energy in the kitchen

From roasts browning in the oven to sauces bubbling on the stovetop, homemade dishes feature proudly during the holidays. As the weather grows colder and families gather, you might find yourself spending more time – and using more energy – in the kitchen. These cooking tips will help you enjoy holiday feasts without compromising on energy efficiency.

Be prepared

Slice your vegetables and meats, measure out your spices and mix your ingredients before you turn on the oven or range. If everything is ready to go, you will avoid long gaps between cooking steps and make good use of your heat.

Thawing frozen foods is important. If you cover that Thanksgiving turkey and leave it in the refrigerator for a few days (approximately 24 hours for every 4 pounds), you’ll reduce the work your oven needs to do, and the cold turkey will make the fridge more efficient.

Wasted space means wasted energy

When you fill your refrigerator and freezer, you actually improve efficiency – to an extent. Empty fridges and freezers lose cold air more quickly when opened. If you cram items in without leaving room for circulation, however, their cooling systems will have to work harder.

This tip also applies to the cooking process. When you sear a small portion in a large pan, you’re heating empty surface area. Try to scale your cookware to fit your recipes. On an electric range, match the sizes of your burners and pans to ensure even and efficient heating. A 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner can waste more than 40 percent of the expended energy. Consider alternatives to full oven use if you only need it to prepare a single dish – toaster ovens, slow cookers and microwaves require less energy and can work well for many types of food.

Make best use of your oven

Dinners often call for the full oven. In those cases, familiarity with its features can save you money. If convection heating is available, use it, as circulating hot air is more efficient than radiating heat. Check your dishes with the oven window and light when possible instead of opening the door, which can cause temperatures to drop as much as 25 degrees.

An oven thermometer is a great tool to improve both your cooking and your energy savings. Many ovens operate at temperatures other than their settings, and this knowledge will help you adjust cooking times to match. Accurate timing will let you turn off the oven several minutes before the food is done, so the remaining heat can finish the job.

Enjoy leftovers

Preparing enough food for future meals is one of the best ways to improve kitchen efficiency. Just make sure to cover the leftovers and let them cool before you put them in the refrigerator.

More ways to save energy and money around the home

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