We use energy every day to prepare food for our families. But a little planning can help reduce this ongoing expense.
One of the best ways to reduce the cost of using your oven is to avoid cooking just a few things at once. Whether you’re baking potatoes, a casserole, or any other dish, consider whether you can add more items to bake at the same time. These could be for dinner the next night, or maybe just for after-school snacks. The cost of fuel will be nearly the same, whether the oven is empty or completely full. The same principle is true, by the way, when loading your dishwasher or clothes washer. Full loads save energy in the long run.
You don’t usually need to pre-heat your oven for very long, either. Most foods will cook the same no matter what temperature they start at. The one exception may be some delicate baked goods, but otherwise the rule is the same: limit pre-heat times.
Use a microwave oven whenever possible. It is the most efficient cooking appliance in modern kitchens, owing in part to its small size and lack of pre-heat time. Typical microwaves use as little as one-fourth the energy of conventional ovens.
Many professional cooks prefer cooking with gas rather than electricity. But remember that gas ranges use an open flame that releases combustion by-products such as moisture, aldehydes, and carbon monoxide into the home. The amount of pollutants will vary depending upon how clean the burners are, how well the pan being used fits the burner, and the fuel-air adjustment.
The best way to combat this indoor pollution from baking is to run an effective kitchen fan while the oven is on. The fan must be vented to the outdoors to remove the pollutants. Range hoods that recirculate the air can’t remove moisture or combustion by-products. Be sure to keep your gas burners clean and unobstructed by dirt or aluminum foil so the flame can burn without interference.
The Homeowners Handbook to Energy Efficiency has more information about saving energy with good habits