A guide to energy savings – Kitchen edition
Everyone wants to spend less on their utility bills, but where to begin? The most fool-proof way to achieve energy savings in the kitchen is by cutting down on your energy consumption. There are two methods to doing this – use less electricity and make sure your home is energy efficient.
SaveOnEnergy is here to help with a new series on energy savings. Each week, we’ll give a walkthrough of a different type of room and help you find ways to save energy quickly and easily. And with any luck, your energy savings will translate to your electric bill, too!
Refrigerator & Freezer
Perhaps the most important appliance in your kitchen is your refrigerator. And amidst the pandemic, many Texas residents are trying to buy in bulk to lower their trips to the store. This means freezers have been doing a little extra heavy lifting, too.
Here are a few ways you can ensure your refrigerator and freezer are in tip-top shape for the upcoming winter weather:
- If your refrigerator is more than 15 years old, it might be time for a replacement. Look for an Energy-Star model, which will use anywhere between 15 and 40 percent less energy than older models.
- To save energy, you should make sure your refrigerator and freezer are set to an ideal temperature. Recommended temperatures for refrigerators are between 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit, and for freezers the ideal temperature is zero degrees Fahrenheit, according to the FDA.
- Let your leftovers cool before storing them in the fridge. Hot food will raise the temperature in the fridge, making it work extra hard to maintain its cool temperature.
- Your freezer will work more efficiently when it’s full. The frozen items bunched together make it easier for your freezer to maintain its icy temperature efficiently.
- Ensure your kitchen refrigerator and freezer doors are airtight. There is a plastic liner in the doors that keeps the cold air inside and the warmer air out. This liner – sometimes called a gasket – will need to be replaced every couple of years due to normal wear and tear, so don’t forget to check it every now and then.
You might be surprised by how much energy your dishwasher can consume – and most of that energy is used to heat the water. On average, kitchen dishwashers use about 1.5 kWh per cycle, which can equal about $0.17 for every time you run it.
That might not seem like a scary amount to pay, but it can really add up. Especially in the times of COVID-19, people have relied heavily on their dishwashers while they stay at home. Here are a few important tips to cut down on how much energy your kitchen dishwasher uses:
- Make sure your dishwasher is full before you run it – but don’t overload it. If your dishwasher is too full, your dishes might need a second cleaning. And, of course, the less your run your dishwasher, the more energy you’ll save, so don’t run it if you only need to clean that one glass inside.
- Look for an Energy Star-certified dishwasher. These are required to use 4.25 gallons of water per cycle or less. For context, older dishwashers can consume more than 10 gallons of water per cycle. An energy efficient model could save you big time in the long run.
- Use an air-dry cycle that dries your dishes using unheated air. Estimates are you can save between 15 and 50 percent of your dishwasher’s energy consumption through this tip alone!
- When in doubt, see if your dishwasher has an energy-saving mode. Certain models come with energy-saving features that can save up to half of your dishwasher’s water usage.
Many aspiring home chefs avoid using their kitchen oven during the warmer months because the heat forces the air conditioner to work harder. But as the summer heat leaves us this year, many are looking forward to cooking comfort food in their ovens again.
Here are some ways you can make sure your oven is working as energy-efficiently as possible:
- Try to cook multiple dishes at once. This can require some planning and multitasking, but when you are strategic with your oven racks, you can save energy – and time – by only using your oven once to make several dishes.
- Use ceramic or glass casserole dishes or pans. These will heat better and more evenly than metal pans, meaning you can use a lower oven setting to cook your food and your oven won’t have to work as hard to maintain a higher temperature.
- Keep the oven door closed. We know it’s tempting to sneak a peek at your dinner while it cooks, but every time you open the oven door you let hot air out and the oven has to use more energy to heat up again.
- Thaw your food before you cook it. This may seem like an obvious tip, but thawing frozen food before you throw it in the oven means your oven will be on for a much shorter time – saving a good chunk of energy it would otherwise consume.
- Consider using a solar oven if you want to cook while living off the grid.
There isn’t a more iconic duo than the oven and the stovetop. But while many consider these two kitchen appliances as one and the same, they work in very different ways and consume energy differently.
Read on to see a few of our top tips for an energy efficient stove:
- Use smaller burners for smaller pans and vice versa. When you use the largest burner to heat one of your small pans, you’re wasting about 40 percent of the heat it produces.
- Keep your burners clean. Burners with a layer of burnt or blackened residue have to work harder to heat your pans and won’t work as efficiently.
- Use high heat first, lower heat second. When you begin cooking on the stove, use higher heat to begin and then lower the temperature. The residual heat will continue cooking your food without consuming as much energy.
Caitlin Cosper is a writer within the energy and power industry. Born in Georgia, she attended the University of Georgia before earning her master’s in English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.