16:34 PM

Saving in the Kitchen

In many households, the kitchen is like a living room. It’s not just where meals are prepared; it’s where conversation is shared while cooking and while eating. It’s where mom gets her coffee, where bookbags land when the kids get home from school, and where dad takes off his shoes after a long day at work. For most families, it’s the hub of the home.

So, it shouldn’t surprise you that a portion of the electricity we consume stems from life lived in the kitchen. To be fair, the largest chunk of your energy bill still comes from heating and cooling your home and from your water heater. But, it’s a safe bet that of any room in your home, the kitchen is the one with the most receptacles. At any time, several large appliances are plugged in, either working night and day, like the fridge, or on standby, like the stove.

Try these energy efficiency tips for the kitchen. You’ll conserve energy and save on your monthly energy bill.

  1. Keep the freezer and fridge full. To make the most of your food-cooling energy dollars, keep the freezer and refrigerator at least three-quarters or preferably all the way full. A filled fridge keeps internal temperatures consistent and makes it easier to cool quickly after opening and closing the door.

  2. Check the temperature. Refrigerated items do well when the temp is set at 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit, while freezers set at 0-5 degrees do the job. If temperatures are set higher, you’ll use more energy than you need — and pay more than necessary.

  3. Use the dishwasher. You won’t save energy washing dishes by hand. Typically, a dishwasher uses far less water and energy than handwashing to clean the same number of items.

  4. Run dishwashers only when full. Since they use the same amount of water and energy whether packed full or half empty, be sure to fill the dishwasher before you run it. You’ll save on your monthly energy bill and lengthen the life of your appliance.

  5. Match pot to burner and cover the pot. Match your small pot or pan to the small burner and larger pot and pan to the large burner. Almost half of the energy created is lost when a small pan is used for cooking on a large burner. Cover pots and pans to retain heat; you’ll use less energy and your food will cook faster.

  6. Use small appliances. Keep your oven turned off and use a microwave, toaster oven, tabletop grill, or slow cooker instead. You’ll save on your energy bill and your kitchen won’t feel like a sauna.

  7. Cut frontend and backend heating time. Although many recipes call for preheating the oven, it’s usually not necessary except when baking. Disregard directions at the beginning of recipes to preheat, making the oven work needlessly while you spend a half-hour preparing what to put in it. On the backend, turn off the oven or stovetop burner a few minutes before the dish is done and allow residual heat to finish the cooking.

  8. Keep the oven door shut. It’s tempting to open, peer and poke. Don’t do it. The oven will lose heat immediately and will pull double duty to bring the temperature back up. Use the oven light to peek inside.

  9. Unplug small appliances. There’s no need to keep the toaster, coffee maker or can opener plugged in unless you’re using them. Store them in a cabinet to tidy up your countertops, and you won’t waste energy that’s pulled from plugged-in appliances when they’re not in use.

  10. Unplug the extra refrigerator. After buying a new one, maybe you moved your old fridge to the basement so you wouldn’t have to walk upstairs to fetch drinks and grub when watching football with your friends. It sounded like a great idea, and maybe the fridge stayed semi-full for a few weeks. It’s probably almost empty now. Take out the half-empty condiment bottles and what little else is left inside, unplug that energy guzzler, and you’ll save up to $120 a year.

Jackie Kennedy has worked with Georgia’s electric cooperatives for 24 years, producing newsletters, press releases and articles about the industry or energy-related matters. She is the author of People, Power, Progress: The Story of Jackson EMC, published in 2013. In her blog, she grapples with a variety of energy efficiency topics.