Top tips for saving energy in the kitchen
These days, we’re only too aware of the need to go green. The kitchen, with its many appliances, tends to be the most energy-intensive room in any home. Read on to find out how to protect the environment (and your wallet) from the comfort of your kitchen.
1. Be appliance-wise
When fitting out a new kitchen, remember to check the energy ratings on any appliances you consider, and think about buying energy-saving versions of standard appliances too. For example, a convection oven saves up to 20% of the energy used by a standard oven by circulating air during cooking, while an induction hob is far more efficient than traditional electric or gas hobs, using up to 90% of the energy produced compared to just 65% for a traditional hob. An eco-click tap is another great idea – this will restrict water flow for normal use, ensuring you don’t waste too much, and to avoid frustration this can be overridden (when filling a washing-up bowl, for example).
If you don’t have the luxury of a complete kitchen refit, you can still make sure you cut back on your energy consumption by using the appliances you have wisely. For example:
- Defrosting food in the fridge overnight requires less energy than thawing in the microwave just before cooking.
- Keeping the glass on the oven door clean is something we rarely have time for – but by doing so you can see how your food is doing without opening the door, saving precious heat (temperature can reduce by up to 27 degrees each time you open the oven door).
- Use a microwave to reheat food – it uses more energy than the oven but food will heat in a much shorter time, giving you a net energy gain.
- Have a barbecue: it uses less energy than the grill (although in Britain perhaps outdoor cooking is more wishful thinking than a way of saving energy!).
- Defrost your freezer regularly to save energy, and be wary of overfilling both the fridge and freezer.
- If possible, keep your fridge away from hot spots like areas of direct sunlight.
- Wait until you have a full load to run the dishwasher or washing machine.
- A flow limiter can be fitted onto existing taps to prevent wastage.
2. Plot your pots
Wise use of pots and pans during your culinary experiments can make a big difference to the amount of energy you use. Buy lidded pans and always cover during boiling or simmering, and my top tip – consider buying a pressure cooker if you don’t have one already. You’ll be amazed not only at the energy savings but at how quickly you can cook meat and veg, and these devices are also a godsend for vegetarians, who can cook beans and pulses in no time without any need for pre-soaking overnight.
3. Can’t stand the heat?
Well, there’s no need to get out of the kitchen – just use your heat wisely to get the maximum amount of return for the minimum amount of energy. Try out the following heat-saving tips:
- Get a multi-level steamer. This will allow you to cook the maximum amount of food from a single hob ring.
- Turn the oven off ten or fifteen minutes before cooking time is up: the residual heat will finish off your roast.
- Don’t over-preheat – ten to fifteen minutes should be enough for your oven to reach the desired temperature.
- Try one-pot recipes such as stews, curries and chillies – delicious comfort food and only one hob ring needed!
4. Save food, save money, save energy…
Waste not, want not was the mantra of previous generations, and no less true today than it was then. Follow these tips to make the most of your cooking ingredients:
- Only use as much water as you need for boiling, simmering or a brew – why waste energy heating water just to throw it down the sink? And hold on to water used for boiling veg or meat, it will make a tasty stock for richer gravies and sauces.
- Double your recipe: leftovers can be frozen and used for quick meals when you are on the go.
- Chop food smaller: smaller chunks mean less energy needed to cook through.
- Save leftovers: these can be used for soups or stews, or boiled up as the base of a stock.
5. Lightbulb moment
Choose the lighting for your kitchen with future-proofing in mind – LED bulbs are more expensive but longer-lasting than halogen lighting, and will eventually pay for themselves several times over. Under-cabinet lighting looks great and ensures maximum efficiency too.