The average American household spends close to $2,000 a year on energy bills, and a fair amount of that total comes from energy used in the kitchen. Here are ten zero-effort ways to reduce the amount of energy you use in food preparation, storage, and cleanup.
1. Use smaller pots and pans whenever possible (the smaller the diameter of the pot, the less energy it takes to heat).
2. Use a lid to conserve energy – uncovered pots lose heat rapidly and make your stove work harder.
3. Reset your refrigerator and freezer temperatures. According to the US Department of Energy, a refrigerator temperature of 36 degrees is cold enough – a lower temperature is overkill and uses extra power that can run up the monthly bill. Freezer sections should be set at about 5 degrees, while standalone freezer units need be no colder than 0 degrees.
4. Let hot items cool to room temperature before putting them in the refrigerator. Don’t make your refrigerator work harder than it has to.
5. No “refrigerator browsing” – keep the refrigerator door closed.
6. Set your dishwasher to air dry rather than using the drying cycle.
7. Make sure foods stored in the refrigerator are covered or wrapped. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
8. Use a closed container like a kettle or covered pan to boil water. The water will come to a boil more quickly, using less energy.
9. Always make the smallest appliance the first choice; for instance, use the toaster oven rather than the conventional oven whenever possible. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
10. Let carryover cooking save you money – turn off the stove a few minutes before the food is completely cooked. The residual heat in the food will finish the job.