Oh so hot. If only we could live on gazpacho and fruit salad alone we could keep the kitchen cool. However, we’re going to have to actually cook at some point this summer. So we’ve collected some good tricks for energy-efficient cooking. And although a hot kitchen is one thing, dwindling energy resources are even more of a motivation to follow these cool tips.
A recent article in the New York Times reports on a major new study that details the planet’s energy scenario. “Because the world’s population is growing and living standards are rising, energy consumption globally is
expected to rise by over 50 percent over the next 25 years,” it notes, and goes on to explain that finding supplies to match that growth is going to be increasingly difficult. It seems prudent to start trimming our energy needs wherever we can. Household appliances account for about 20 percent of a household’s energy consumption, so why not start reducing energy use in the kitchen–and get cool while you’re at it?
1. Use the proper size pot for the burner or element. A 6″ pan on an 8″ burner will waste over 40 percent of the heat produced by the burner.
2. When using an electric range, turn off the burner before the cooking is finished. The burner will retain enough heat to continue cooking for a short while.
3. Keep stovetop burners and reflectors clean. They will reflect the heat better and save a surprising amount of energy.
4. Cover pots when cooking. Food cooks faster and less heat escapes.
5. When boiling something, turn down the heat once it reaches a boil–it takes less heat to maintain a boil than reaching it.
6. Donít boil more water than you will be using.
7. If you use boiled water frequently, invest in an electric kettle.
8. Minimize preheating–unless you’re baking breads or pastries you may not need to preheat the oven at all. A good rule of thumb is that any food that takes more than 60 minutes to bake can be started in a cold oven.
9. Glass or ceramic pans in the oven retain heat well enough that you can turn down the temperature about 25 degrees F.
10. In a conventional oven, food cooks quicker on the top rack.
11. Check the seal on your oven door to make sure it is working properly.
12. Full-size ovens are not very efficient when cooking small quantities of food. When cooking small- to medium-sized meals, it generally pays to use smaller toaster ovens.
13. Rearrange oven shelves before you turn the oven on. Doing it after the oven is hot not only wastes heat, but is an easy way to burn yourself.
14. Don’t lay foil on oven racks to prevent messes. The oven works more quickly and efficiently when air can circulate freely.
15. Try not to open the oven and peek when baking.
16. Pressure cookers reduce cooking time.
17. Thaw foods completely before cooking (thawing in the refrigerator is best because it helps the efficiency of the refrigerator).
18. Cut food into smaller pieces for quicker cooking.
19. Try a solar cooker!
20. Slow cooking in a Crock Pot uses much less energy than simmering on a stove, and emits much less heat.