How to save energy while cooking this winter

December 15, 2020   By Jackie Whetzel

How to save energy while cooking this winter

Residents across Texas are feverishly preparing for the holidays. Folks are adorning their homes in colorful light displays, shopping for loved ones, and cooking recipes to serve at the Christmas dinner table.

We’re not denying that any of these festivities are important. But we’re shuddering thinking about all the extra energy that Texans will consume in the average household over the holiday break.

The lights around the Christmas tree and plug-in decor will add to most Texan’s winter energy bill. However, many homes will also experience an energy surge in the kitchen.

We’ve compiled a list of simple energy-saving tips to help keep this surge in electricity to a minimum while cooking this holiday season.

Cook everything together

Think smart any time you turn on the oven. For instance, when it comes to baking holiday cookies, invest in several cookie sheets so you can bake all your grandma’s sugar, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie recipes at once.

In fact, you should cook as much of the holiday meal as possible at the same time to save energy. Do not turn on the oven until all of your chopping and mixing is done and you’re ready to turn on the heat. Another tip to remember is that you can typically turn off the oven the last few minutes of cooking as the generated heat should be enough to finish the job.

Go unplugged while cooking

When you’re considering going unplugged over the holidays – staying off the electronic devices and spending more quality time with family – remember that it’s also smart to keep kitchen electronics unplugged when you’re not using them. Items such as a toaster oven, air fryer and instant pot should always be unplugged so you don’t waste phantom energy. Many people don’t realize these items eat up standby energy when they’re plugged in but not in use.

Keep the doors closed

Keep the refrigerator and oven door closed as much as possible. Be strategic when you open the fridge and try to get out all the items you need at once to avoid wasting energy. When it comes to the stove, do not open the door when the meal is cooking, as the oven temperature will drop approximately 25 degrees with every peek. Use the oven light and glass door insert for any peeks while the ham or butterball is roasting instead to save energy.

Big meals can be made in small appliances

Using smaller appliances can save energy (and money via your energy bill) this holiday season. You don’t have to cook the entire Christmas dinner in a crockpot, but you can easily save energy by preparing part of the meal in smaller appliances such as a toaster oven, crockpot, instant pot, griddle, air fryer, or microwave. All of these appliances can be more energy efficient than the traditional oven or stove. For instance, a toaster oven uses about one third to one half the energy as the traditional oven, according to the Department of Energy. Smaller appliances are also a great option for heating Christmas leftovers. You can save 80 percent on energy when reheating food in a microwave versus a standard oven.

Add a few no-bake items to the holiday menu

Christmas is a busy morning for everyone, especially if you’re responsible for cooking and entertaining family. Consider adding as many no-bake items to your holiday menu as you can to save both time and energy. When it comes to appetizers, a cheese ball and crackers, vegetable and ranch tray or charcuterie board are all great options that will cost you no energy in the kitchen. There are lots of great no-bake dessert recipes out there that are simple and will impress your holiday guests.

Say “yes” to the dishwasher

Let the dishwasher clean all the holiday dishes for you this year – and have no guilt about it. An Energy Star dishwasher uses less than half as much energy as hand washing, saving approximately 5,000 gallons of water a year. An Energy Star certified dishwasher can save the average household more than $40 a year, as they are outfitted with powerful jets that clean and sanitize dishes using less heated water than hand washing.

Always operate the dishwasher efficiently. Only run it when there is a full load and let the dishes air dry by leaving the door open (or hand drying) for an extra boost in energy savings when possible.


Jackie Whetzel is a freelance writer who has been featured in newspapers and publications across the country. She has written on the topics of energy, education, government, and business. You can find her on Instagram.