Aside from heating, most of my energy use occurs in the kitchen. And there are lots of little things that can help reduce this. Here are some top tips that I’ve been testing out with happy success.
- Vacuum the dust off the coils behind the fridge to improve efficiency. I make this an annual spring cleaning activity.
- Make sure there is a bit of space behind your fridge for air to flow. It will let the heat of the motor dissipate more easily, saving energy.
- Keep the fridge door open for as little as possible when getting food out. I can still hear my mother telling me “Robin, close that refrigerator door until you decide what you want to get out of it! You’re letting all of the cold air out!” Mothers always know best!
- Don’t put piping hot leftovers in the fridge. I have a cold flat stairwell that I put my cooking pots out on to cool before containerising and freezing or refrigerating.
- Use the temperature adjuster in your fridge. If you buy a thermometer, you can make sure that your fridge stays cold enough (at or below 40° F or 4° C) without wasting energy. You can increase this temperature a bit when you are on vacation to save energy.
Stove Top and Oven
- The phrase a watched pot never boils ought to be changed to an uncovered pot never boils. Cover, cover, cover! Food will cook faster, it will spread less water vapour into your home, and you will save a boatload of energy.
- Chop food into smaller pieces to cook faster. This is especially easy and fun for me and my children to do with our new Pampered Chef chopper gadget! LOVE it!
- Boil water in your kettle instead of pans to save time and energy.
- Use cooking pans that just fit the food you are cooking. If they are too big, you are wasting heating/cooking energy.
- If you are using heavy bottomed pans or an electric hob (that’s a stove for you Americans), then turn off the heat a minute or two before your food is fully cooked. If you keep the lid on, the latent heat in the pan and hob will continue cooking your food.
- Try not to run the dishwasher unless it’s fully loaded. Again, I can recall my mother telling me this as a teenager, after she reloaded it to fit more plates than I had initially put in. You were right mom!!!!
- All dishwashers work a bit differently, but if you look up your model’s specifications from your manufacturer, you can find out which run mode uses the least energy. My slimline Boch’s “quick” mode actually uses a bit less energy than the “eco” mode, and cleans just as well, so that’s all I ever use. But most models “should” use less energy on eco modes.
- When the washing is done, make sure you turn off your dishwasher so it is not left on standby.
- It seems counter-intuitive, but apparently dishwashers usually use less energy and water than hand-washing. Lots of caveats on how you wash and which model washer you have. But the take home message is that if you have a dishwasher, then make sure it’s an efficient one.
- It took a lot of energy to get that broccoli, lettuce, banana and bread from a farmer’s field to your kitchen, so try not to waste it. Reduce your food waste by making of list of what you need from the grocery store before you shop, composting kitchen scraps and freezing leftovers.
- Does your kitchen sink have a leaking tap? Fix it! Water is treated before it is piped into your house, so wasting water is wasting municipal energy. That all drives up consumer costs in the long-run and if you have metered water you’ll notice the drop in your bills immediately.
It goes without saying that if you have the top of the line efficient and small appliances, then you’ll be saving energy faster than most. So next time you are in the market for a new appliances or electronics, make sure to note the energy efficiency rating and compare it to a few of your favourite models. Even if it’s not your driving factor in appliance choice, try to make it a consideration just as you would price. Because your operational costs throughout the appliance lifetime may very well exceed the actual purchase price.