This week, for the B&Q Great Energy Race, I am looking at food and how we can save energy in the kitchen.
Energy usage from cooking accounts for around 4% of the energy usage in the average house. I was surprised this was so little, but as they say, every little helps, and there are lots of measures we can take to save energy in the kitchen, and it all adds up.
So are we destined to spend a month eating raw food, or are there lots of clever ways we can reduce our energy usage in the kitchen??
I think about food and cooking A LOT, and I love cooking, so I am really keen to explore the ins and outs of every usage in the kitchen-in terms of storing food, cooking it, and then clearing up all the resultant mess!
I have been giving this some thought over the last few days, and have mostly come up with more questions than answers-questions like these:
- A-listed appliances are obviously the Holy Grail in terms of energy usage, but if you have old, less energy efficient ones that still work perfectly well, does the carbon footprint of replacing them outweigh the energy saving benefits of doing so?
- Is it better to just boil the water you need for a cup of tea, or to boil three times as much, as then fill a thermos with water to make tea with later?
- I am told that a slow cooker uses about the same amount of energy as a standard lightbulb, which sounds pretty energy saving to me, BUT if you have it on for 8-10hours, does this equate to the same amount of energy used as a conventional cooker for an hour?
- Which uses less energy and water-washing up by hand, or using a dishwasher?
I haven’t exactly been losing sleep over these questions, but as with most things, I am quickly discovering that things are never quite as simple as they first appear!
Anyway, to start us off, here are some of the things I already do in the kitchen to save energy, and some things I am planning to implement.
- When you have finished cooking in the oven, leave the door open, so that the heat can disperse into the kitchen and warm it up
- As long as you are not cooking a cake (and it might therefore sink) I reckon you can turn the oven off 10 minutes or so before the end of the cooking time, and the heat will stay pretty constant until you open the door to take your meal out (don’t quote me on this, I have not scientifically assessed it, and the Food Safety types may very well be spitting out mouthfuls of tea in rage and indignation at such a suggestion)
- If you want a casserole or are cooking cheaper cuts of meat, that need slow cooking, use a slow cooker (although I will be doing some in-depth investigative journalism into this during the week-excited? I am!)
- If you have a dishwasher, make sure it is full before you turn it on, and use the Eco-setting if it has one
- If you are washing up, use a bowl and don’t keep the tap running all the time
- When cooking pasta and rice, I am reliably informed that you can just bring the water up to the boil, pop on a lid, turn off the heat and leave it to cook like this. Apparently it adds an extra 10 minutes or so to the cooking time
- If you have the oven on, try to use it as efficiently as possible, and plan ahead, so that if possible you can have things cooking on both shelves-one meal for now, and one for later (now that really is moving into the realms of uber-efficiency and domestic god/goddess-liness)
- Use the toaster, not the grill
- Only boil the water you need in the kettle (although as I already said above, this has raised one of the ‘burning questions’, and that in itself raises yet another “Is life to short to be anally storing hot water in a thermos?”)
- This may be slightly controversial, especially, again, for the Food Safety police, but don’t pre-heat (ignore this for cakes though). Put your food in the cold oven, and allow it to heat up as the oven heats up
- Put lids on saucepans (and then don’t forget to turn the heat down!)
- Don’t throw the hot cooking water down the drain, leave it in the pans to cool down, thereby releasing it’s residual heat into the kitchen, rather than heating up your drain!
So come on then chaps-your turn! I want:
- answers to my ‘burning questions’
- your hints, tips, ideas and gadgets for energy saving in the kitchen
- any burning questions of your own, and areas you want my hard-hitting investigative journalism skills (?!) to look into over the next week
- any useful websites/books etc
We’ve got a Great Energy Race to win, and a planet to save, so lets do it 🙂
(Cheesy motivational speech bit)