Karen Wiggins on February 1, 2018 1 Comment Almost everyone wants to save on their monthly energy bills. From turning off your lights to using a portable air conditioner, conserving energy and cutting down on your monthly utility bills is easier than you might think. One way you might not have considered, is to conserve energy while cooking and preparing meals at home. Not only will this make a big difference over time, it’ll save you quite a bit of money. It is highly important to understand your cooking habits and recognize that energy efficient kitchen appliances might not help much if you do not know how to use them properly. Additionally, it might not be realistic to go out and buy a whole bunch of new cooking appliances, even if you do not currently have a convection oven, which is on average about 20 percent more efficient than a traditional oven. You might be surprised at how easy going green actually is, especially in the kitchen. You also might be surprised to learn that saving energy while cooking can actually save time and make your life easier. Below are 10 quick and easy ways can save energy, cut your utility bills and still make delicious meals while cooking. 1) Use the Correct Sized Pots & Pans When you’re using your stove to cook, ensure that your are using the right size pots and pans. It would make sense that if you’re preparing a smaller meal, then you should use a smaller pan. In fact, it has been estimated that a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner typically wastes approximately 40 percent of the heat produced by the burner on electric cooktops. Additionally, keeping a lid on your pots and pans helps keep the heat in, allowing you to use less energy to cook your meal. While these choices may seem small, they can actually make a pretty big difference in the long run. 2) Choose the Right Appliance It is also important to find the right balance when choosing between an oven, a toaster oven, and a microwave. Often, smaller appliances are the best choice. For example, opting to use a toaster oven instead of a full oven means you will ultimately use less energy to cook the same meal. Depending on what you’re cooking, you may also find it’s optimal to choose a countertop appliance, such as a rice cooker or pressure cooker, to help you prepare your meal without using one of your larger, energy-sucking appliances. 3) Clean Your Stovetop Often Burner efficiency can be reduced dramatically when burner pans are blackened due to heavy use. The best way to ensure that you do not waste energy with a grimy stovetop is to keep in shiny. Clean it often to prevent build-up. Or if you know you’re about to cook a big meal, try to make time to clean your stove before you start preparing your meal. 4) Reduce Overall Cook Time Logically, the less time you spend cooking, the less energy you typically use. Stick to energy efficient cooking methods, and reduce cook time by planning ahead. Try defrosting all frozen items in the refrigerator instead of the microwave or oven before use. Also, do not cover your oven racks with foil. Improve airflow and reduce cook time by staggering multiple pans, and wait until the last minute to preheat the oven. Avoid opening the oven door to check too often. It is not only a waste of energy; it is also poor cooking practice in general. 5) Invest in High-Quality Cookware A warped pan could waste approximately 50 percent of the heat used on a stovetop. However, a flat pan will utilize almost all energy. Similarly, if you use high-quality cookware that is made from highly conductive materials typically allows you to get the same results while using approximately 25% less heat. Glass or ceramic pans are better in the oven, and pans with a copper bottom are better on stovetops. 6) Prepare for Future Meals Make your life easier by cooking extra portions that you can easily reheat later. By doing this, you will not only save time the next day, you will also not have to worry about using any additional energy except what is required to reheat your food. Frozen home-cooked meals are also a great alternative to fast food since they are often healthier and less expensive. 7) Cooking Tips Anyone Can Use A few simple cooking tips help save a small amount of energy here and there, but they all add up in the end. Try to cover pans when possible to prevent heat loss, and use less fat and liquid for faster cooking times. Turn off the pan a little early, and let the residual heat finish the dish for you. 8) Try Using Countertop Appliances Some of the most energy efficient cooking methods are also some of the easiest. Invest in a pressure cooker or slow cooker so you can safely prepare meals while you are not home. You can also try a solar box cooker or a variety of other appliances that save energy and make your life easier. Rice makers are also a great alternative to cooking rice and other grains on the stove. Not only are they designed to cook rice perfectly, but they use far less energy than your stovetop would. 9) Embrace Leftovers Leftovers do not only have to be old food from the night before. Cook in bulk, and freeze items like pasta sauce in single serving portions. Reheat leftovers in the toaster oven or microwave instead of the stovetop. The microwave uses more energy, but cook times are generally significantly faster. When saving pasta in the refrigerator, coat it with olive oil so you do not have to boil a new pot of water every time you want to make it. Additionally, soups and stews save well in the freezer and are easy to reheat. 10) Think Simple for Everyday Meals Find several great recipes for one-pot meals. Save energy, and make weeknight cooking easier. Practically, all you have to do is select the right pan for an easy, energy-efficient meal. Not only will this cut down on the energy you use, but also the amount of clean-up that is involved when your meal is complete. The Long-Term Benefits of Simple Energy Savings You might find that there are more benefits to energy-saving cooking than cost alone. Who hasn’t felt defeated when dinner is not planned 90 minutes before bedtime? Having a plan and finding ways to efficiently cook meals can save your sanity on weeknights, as well as give you more time away from the kitchen while still providing healthy, nourishing meals for the entire family. Plus, fast food is neither healthy or cheap, not to mention that idling in the drive thru lane is not particularly eco-friendly, either. Taking simple steps to save energy when cooking probably will not save hundreds in energy bills every month. However, with these small changes, your savings will quickly add up over time. Combine them with energy-saving tips for other rooms and you’ll be living a greener life in no time. It might not be practical to invest in a full set of new copper cookware tomorrow, but it might be a good idea to invest in one quality pan that is not warped. Start slow, and use your savings to invest in different energy-efficient appliances over time. Energy efficient cooking does not have to be difficult or expensive. After all, the point is to save money and other resources.