Slaving over a hot stove may sound like an appealing chore in the dead of winter, but who wants to do that in the middle of summer? Not only is it uncomfortable, it can be a huge drag on your household energy use. A conventional oven and stove uses far more energy than most small cooking appliances, and it produces lots of heat, forcing your air conditioner to work overtime.
If you challenge yourself to use your oven and range less during the warmest months, you could find significant energy savings and keep your home more comfortable. You might even learn some new recipes and cooking techniques you wouldn’t otherwise have tried! Read on for a few ideas of how you can do the job of a major appliance with a much smaller alternative.
You probably already know that microwaves make food hot by using radio waves to stimulate molecules, but did you know that they can use up to 80 percent less energy than your stovetop when it’s time to make dinner? As an added benefit, your meals are finished in a fraction of the time. But microwaves can’t do it all -- they can’t brown meat, for instance -- so you should use them whenever possible for the jobs microwaves do best. It’s one of the most effective ways to keep your kitchen cool and your utility bill under control.
When there’s no substitute for a real oven, but you’re only cooking for one or two, the toaster oven is the way to go. These miniature versions operate just like your conventional oven, but because of their size, they need little or no preheating and use far less energy per minute of baking. According to ENERGY STAR, your energy savings per meal could top 50 percent -- and with preheating eliminated, you’ll have food on the table faster.
Slow cookers, or crock pots, can also help you save energy and money in a variety of ways. Their low wattage offers an energy advantage over stovetops, but because slow cooker recipes often involve several hours of cooking time, the overall energy advantage can vary. They don’t put off much heat, however, so you may save on HVAC costs. And because they can tenderize meat well over several hours, you can buy cheaper, tougher cuts at the grocery store and still end up with delectable dinners.
Save Energy All Summer
Making a few changes to your cooking habits is a great way to start saving energy this summer. But if you’re looking for ways to do more, consider scheduling a whole-home energy audit to get an accurate accounting of how much energy you’re using, where it’s going and what you could do to save even more. Call upon your local licensed electricians for help with this or any other electrical projects.