Your kitchen contains the biggest energy and water hogs in your home. By changing a few cooking habits and using your appliances more efficiently, you can reduce your kitchen energy usage and save some cash.
When using the oven, preheat for 5-8 minutes only, and cut cooking time up to 20% by moving the rack closer to the heating unit. Every time you open the oven door, you lose 25-30 degrees, so check food with the oven light instead. Save energy and time by using the self-cleaning feature right after cooking to take advantage of residual heat.
For smaller meals, cut usage in half with an electric pan or toaster oven. Slow cookers are a great alternative and average a dime’s worth of electricity per meal. Cut out electricity altogether by grilling out, and you’ll avoid forcing the refrigerator to work harder in a hot kitchen.
If you have a gas range, confirm you are getting a blue flame. A yellow flame means the fuel is burning inefficiently, and your gas line should be checked by your gas company. When buying new, look for an oven with an automatic electric ignition system instead of having a continuously burning pilot light.
On top, purchase reflective (instead of dull) burner pans to direct more heat to cookware and save one-third of the energy usage. Blackened, dirty burner pans absorb heat and reduce efficiency, so clean them regularly. Reduce heat loss by using pots and pans with flat bottoms and matching them to the correct burner size.
Save energy by not setting your refrigerator and freezer colder than necessary. The Department of Energy recommends setting refrigerators between 36-38°F and freezers between 0-5°F.
You can do simple things to prevent your refrigerator from working overtime. Maintain circulation by not overcrowding the shelves. Make the condenser work more efficiently by waiting for food to cool before storing and covering containers to prevent moisture. Every three months, vacuum the condenser coils underneath and behind the unit. Test for air leakage by closing the door over a piece of paper. If it pulls out easily, look into getting a new latch or seal.
Conventional faucets flow up to five gallons per minute, but you can reduce this to 1.5 gallons simply by installing a low-flow faucet. Remember to choose cold water for rinsing, filling pots or running the garbage disposal. In fact, skip the garbage disposal and create a compost heap instead.
Dishwashers save time, but they raise utility bills, too. Wait until you have a full load and let dishes air dry after cleaning. The “rinse hold” setting uses 3-7 gallons of hot water per use, so ignore this setting when you have few soiled dishes. When purchasing a dishwasher, look for ones with internal booster heaters, so that you can set your water heater thermostat at 120°F (rather than 140°F for dishwashing purposes).
Without making major changes, you can make your kitchen more energy efficient and save considerably on your monthly costs.