How To Save Energy & Money In Your Kitchen.


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I get email requests all the time for how to save money on energy use, but I got one the other day specifically aimed at energy use in the kitchen. So after doing some thinking and wandering around my own kitchen looking for ideas, here are a few of the ways you can save energy (and money!) in your kitchen.

Maintain The Refrigerator – Keep the coils on the back clean and the door seals tight. You can vacuum the dust off the coils, and if the seals are loose and/or are not fitting correctly, you can pick up new ones at the hardware store and install them yourself. This way, the cold stays inside and the fridge doesn’t have to work as hard to stay that way. Also, keeping your freezer and fridge “full” helps keep the temperature stable inside. We keep plastic jugs full of water in our freezer just to fill up the space, as we rarely have much of anything in there. And when it’s time to buy a new fridge, be sure to buy an Energy Star rated one – the energy usage is listed right on the tag of each unit. Look for the one that uses the least amount of energy but yet has the features you are looking for.

Cover Your Pans – Sounds simple, right? But by using a lid on a pan, you are reducing the amount of time needed to warm up whatever you are cooking. Boiling water, for example, takes way less time if you put a lid on the pan – which then saves you that much more energy.

Check Out Toaster Ovens – Why heat up the whole oven if all you are making is a frozen dinner? Toaster ovens heat up quickly, cool down quickly, and will give you back your up front cost in energy savings in no time.

Cooktop & Oven Maintenance – Keep these clean! On a gas cook top, be sure those reflecting disks are not dirty – they are not there for only aesthetic reasons, they reflect the heat and help to cook things faster. On the oven, make sure the door seals and sits correctly so you do not have any heat loss. Keeping an oven at hundreds of degrees uses a lot of energy; even more if the heat is escaping. And if you need to purchase a new gas oven, look for one with an automatic electric ignition system. This way the burners are not on 24-7 waiting for you to cook something.

Air Dry Your Dishes – Turn off the drying feature on your dishwasher, and just prop open the door when the washing cycle has finished. You are not running a restaurant; you don’t need to heat up your dishes! Let them air dry and save some money instead.

Unplug Appliances Not In Use – The microwave, toaster oven, and assorted other appliances continue to draw power even when they are turned off. So if you are not using them, unplug them from the wall.

Repair Any Drips – It may not be energy use, but it sure is a waste of money. Don’t let a dripping faucet go on dripping, even if you have to call a plumber to fix it. Dripping water might not seem like that big of a problem, but a single faucet dripping at 1 drip a minute can waste 2,082 gallons of water a year.

Stop Peeking – Stop opening the oven door to see if your food is done. Every time you do that, the temperature drops in the oven and has to work harder to get back to the set temp. Turn on the light and look through the window; that’s what they are there for!

What am I missing? What tips could you offer my readers who have emailed me questions about energy usage in the kitchen? If you have any advice, please leave it in the comment section!

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  1. Oven…
    A lot of the cost of using an oven is in the initial heat-up phase, so I try to reuse the oven when it’s warm. When cooking a roast, I put the potatoes in the oven as well, instead of separately in a pan on the stove. After the pizza is done, I might pop in a loaf of bread of a pie to make use of the oven that is already pre-heated.
    Many ovens have a vent underneath one of the stove elements. If I do use the stove, I try to favour that element. You’ll be surprised how hot the oven can get a pot of water on that element without the element being turned on.

    Kitchen cabinets…
    Our house is well insulated, but on those frigid days I’m surprised how cold the kitchen cabinets on our exterior wall can still get. Keeping the cabinets closed serves as another layer of insulation.

    Plug your kitchen sink…
    Saving water when rinsing/soaking dishes is probably obvious.
    If I use hot water in the winter I often put the plug in the sink and let the water stand for a while. As it cools it gives heat back into the house and in this dry winter air the extra evaporation comes in real handy. Why run a humidifier when you can just leave the water in the sink/tub until it cooled down to room temperature.

    Decide what you want to eat before opening the fridge. 😉
    We also store water jugs in our fridge to safe power as David already indicated: each time you open the fridge less cold air can escape.

    Use a low-flow aerator on your tap.

    Hand wash…
    I don’t run the dishwasher if I only have a couple dishes. Also, I prefer to hand wash the larger items and free up dishwasher space for other stuff. That way I can run the thing half as often.

    Paper towels?
    The advertisers make me believe everyone uses paper towels to clean their counters. What about the good old dish rag?

  2. During winter we drink a lot of hot tea in the evening. Insted of heating water in a teakettle on the stove, we switched to using an electric tea kettle. We unplug it after each use.

  3. I have a toaster oven, but a friend told me they use more energy than an oven because they don’t use 220 wiring. Was he wrong?

  4. I recall when going around the house with an energy meter that the coffee maker draws a lot of juice. I always turn it off now right after making it instead of letting extra coffee warm on the burner.

    1. Yea, that’s one of the biggest power draws for sure! I switched to a french press, but I still have to heat up the water first, which still uses energy 🙂

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