Folks have come a long way in their efforts to save energy around the home. We’ve installed energy efficient appliances and lighting, and we’ve even started parking electric vehicles in our garages. We’re even finding greener ways to build our homes from the foundation up. However, there’s one area of day-to-day life that often gets overlooked when it comes to energy saving opportunities:
Many people don’t realize just how much energy is used for the production of food. Recent studies show that 16 percent of the United States’ total energy consumption goes toward the food industry. This includes growing it, shipping and storing. Add to that the tremendous energy usage involved with actually cooking the food and handling waste disposal and you can see how quickly it all adds up. The good news is that cooking also provides for a lot of energy saving opportunities.
Here are a few ways you can save on energy in your own kitchen:
Try dicing instead of chopping.
The smaller you cut vegetables and meat, the faster they’ll cook. This will ultimately reduce the amount of time you need to have your stove on and reduce your energy usage.
When possible, make your food in bulk.
This is an excellent way to save money, too. If you can make twice or three times as much food as your family needs, you can freeze the leftovers and eat them throughout the week, potentially only using your stove or oven once or twice a week.
Use energy efficient cookware.
Heavy duty pots and pans will retain heat and keep food warmer, longer. Heavier cookware will also allow you to cook food at lower temperatures, saving energy.
Give yourself plenty of time to defrost your food.
Many feel that defrosting food in the microwave robs flavor. While that’s debatable, it’s a certainty that it uses energy. Instead, try getting your frozen foods out in the morning and letting them thaw all day. They’ll be ready to cook by the evening.
Soak your ingredients.
Starchy foods like lentils, oats and beans will cook quicker if you soak them in water overnight.
Use the smallest pots and pans you can.
Using smaller pots on smaller burners will tend to cook food faster and save energy in the process.
Oh, and don’t forget to use a lid.
Water will boil and food will cook faster if you use a lid on your pots and pans. You can also cook food at lower temperatures, which will save energy.
Better yet, use crockpots and pressure cookers.
A pressure cooker will use about half of the energy as conventional cooking measures, and crockpot uses a very small amount of energy when you start your meal in the morning and let it cook all day.
Fill up the oven.
If your menu calls for multiple baked items, try to get as many of them as you can inside your oven and cook at a common temperature.
Make sure your food is completely cool before you put it in the fridge.
If you put hot food in the fridge it will bring down the interior temperature and cause your fridge to work overtime, resulting in a pretty substantial use of energy.