Use your microwave to save money and energy

Why slave over a hot stove to provide healthy meals to your family when you could be saving time and money by using a microwave oven instead? In many cases, the microwave will use less energy than your range or oven and still create a delicious meal.

Radio Wave Technology

Using a microwave can save you anywhere between 30 to 80 percent in energy compared to your stove, according to the California Energy Commission. The devices work by using radio waves to excite water molecules in food, heating it from within. For many food items, that's a lot faster and more cost-effective than applying heat directly via a range or oven.

For example, the Energy Center provides a comparison of the average cost of cooking a casserole using various methods. The microwave is by far the quickest and cheapest, finishing the job in 15 minutes for a cost of 3 cents in energy. Meanwhile, the standard oven is actually the least efficient cooking method, taking an hour and burning up 16 cents in energy costs. A few cents might not sound like a big difference, but over a year the savings add up.

Great for Small Meals, Defrosting

The microwave won't save you energy in every situation, but they're perfect for small portions like side dishes and leftovers. If you try to make a large meal in the microwave, however, you can end up cooking it unevenly or not getting the desired texture, and the more food you heat at once, the less efficient microwaves are compared to the stovetop. For specific tasks like defrosting a piece of meat, on the other hand, a microwave is a great solution.

There’s another bonus with using a microwave in the summertime: it won't heat up the kitchen, so you don't put extra stress on your air conditioner to offset the rise in temperature.

For safety's sake, make sure you only use microwave-safe containers, and never put metal in the microwave.

Choosing a Microwave

Unfortunately, the federal Energy Star program does not certify microwaves at this time so you have to do a little more research to discover the most efficient models. Energy usage is fairly consistent across different brands. However, you can cut down on consumption by purchasing the smallest model that will meet your needs. Look at the wattage label, which will tell you exactly how much electricity it draws, and try to find one at 800 watts or fewer.

New microwaves are also far more efficient than older models. Look for devices that have variable power settings, temperature probes and sensors that can tell when the food is done cooking.

Microwaves aren't a perfect solution for every meal, but they are an important tool in the arsenal of any energy-conscious homeowner.

Call local Mister Sparky® for more energy-saving tips.

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