Whether you’re a seasoned veteran in the kitchen or a first-time cook for family and friends, the holidays are always a great time to whip up family favorites or try new out recipes. While people tend to share their favorite recipes during the holidays, they rarely stop to consider how much energy is being used to make those delicious, home-cooked meals. That’s where we have your backs, chefs. Virginia Energy Sense is committed to helping Virginians understand their energy use and what they can do to save energy easily and cost-effectively. Below are some ideas and tips you can use to reduce your energy consumption when cooking during the holidays:
- Use your crockpot: You can cook virtually any dish in a slow cooker, even the Thanksgiving turkey! Not only are they easier to use, but crockpots also use one-tenth the energy of your oven’s kilowatt hours.
- No peeking: Patience is key in the kitchen, so remember to keep the oven closed when cooking. A slight opening can reduce the heat by up to 25 degrees and lead to a longer cook time.
- Keep the lids on: When using the stove, keep the lids on your pots so your food will cook in less time and in turn use less energy.
- Maintain your burners: Always clean the burners on your stove after every use, as they’ll use heat more efficiently and consume less energy.
- Use glass or ceramic dishes: In contrast to metal pans, ceramic and glass dishes retain more heat and lead to a lower temperature than listed to prepare a meal.
- Match the pan to the burner: Remember to match the size of the burner to the size of the pan. Using a smaller pan on a large burner will waste more energy.
- Preheat exactly: Preheat your oven to the exact temperature as listed in the recipe, and consider not preheating the oven if a dish requires several hours to cook.
- Use microwaves: Consider using your microwave instead of your oven to cook smaller dishes, as it uses less electric energy than an oven.
- Multitask: Cooking multiple dishes in your oven, side by side or on different racks, may slightly increase the cooking time, but can also reduce energy used by cooking them separately.
- Run a full dishwasher: Waiting to run your dishwasher until it is completely full means less loads and the potential to cut your energy bill by a bit.
You can find more energy saving resources on the Virginia Energy Sense website to help keep additional costs low as you prepare holiday meals for families and friends. Following these suggestions could help you save energy that would have otherwise gone unnoticed while you’re trying to cook for your guests. Taking these important steps will also help Virginia reach its goal of reducing electric energy consumption 10 percent below 2006 levels by 2022, which is a win for all Virginians. Happy cooking!