Energy Efficient Cooking Tips

Which piece of cooking equipment you use and how you use it makes a big impact on how much energy you use preparing meals.  Here are some tips that should help you decide where and when savings are possible in the kitchen.

  • Select the right pan or appliance.  Oversized pans waste energy.  The pan you use should match the burner size.  A 6-inch diameter pan on an 8-inch burner wastes almost half of the energy produced by the burner. Using a separate appliance like a Crockpot can save energy when preparing foods requiring long cooking times. Pressure cookers reduce energy use 50 to 75 percent because cooking times are reduced when food is cooked at the higher temperatures created inside a pressure cooker.  And when you bake, use glass and ceramic pans and you can lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees. If you're baking or roasting something for less than a half hour, use a toaster oven. They often use 1/3 to 1/2 the power needed for a conventional oven.
  • With flat-surface electric burners, make sure the bottom of your pans are flat-bottomed and can make good contact with the element.  Uneven pan bottoms don't conduct heat to the food as well.  And with electric burners, you can turn them off toward the end of the cooking time since they'll radiate heat for awhile as they cool.
  • With gas cooktops, a well-shaped blue flame indicates efficient burning.  A yellow flame means the burner is operating inefficiently.
  • Keep lids on pans as you cook; cooking without them can require three times as much energy as cooking with them on.  Look for pans with glass lids if you like to keep an eye on what you are preparing.
  • When boiling foods, keep the amount of water used to a minimum.  Using excess water that must be heated wastes the energy required to raise its temperature.
  • Use microwave ovens when possible since they use less energy and require shorter cooking times than conventional ovens. And in the summer, they have the additional advantage of producing less heat in the kitchen.
  • Defrosting frozen foods in the refrigerator will reduce cooking time. But allow enough time for defrosting to take place.  It can take several days for a frozen turkey to defrost in a refrigerator.
  • Self-cleaning ovens are a great convenience, but they accomplish their tasks by heating to very high temperatures and burn off spilled or accumulated food.  So use them only when the oven really needs the cleaning, once a month or so.  And do it right after use so it's preheated for the cleaning cycle.