From cooking to entertaining, the kitchen is one of the most active rooms in the home—and one of the biggest energy consumers. With major appliance energy usage from products like the refrigerator and oven, as well as cooking habits that contribute to energy consumption, the kitchen can make your monthly electric bill add up.
Fortunately, big energy usage means plenty of opportunities for big energy savings. You don’t have to invest in a full kitchen remodel or home automation to reduce electricity costs. Try following these energy-saving tips to create a more energy-efficient kitchen and help make your cooking routine a little easier.
Upgrade Your Appliances
When it’s time to buy a new refrigerator or other large appliance, choose an ENERGY STAR®-certified model. Energy-efficient products with this designation meet stricter standards than models without the little blue label. Not only can an ENERGY STAR® appliance help you reduce your electricity usage, but it can also save you money on your monthly utility bills.
Here are a few energy-saving features to look for in new energy-efficient kitchen appliances:
- Energy-efficient refrigerators that use LED light bulbs instead of halogen bulbs
- Fridges with a bottom or top freezer use less energy than side-by-side models
- Dishwashers with advanced washing and drying features for extra efficiency, such as soil sensors that detect how dirty the dishes are and adjust water use accordingly
- Induction ranges, which are the most efficient type of stove currently available
Beyond upgrading to the best energy-efficient kitchen appliances, small habits can change in your cooking and cleaning routines. If you’re trying to figure out how to save energy in the kitchen, this is a great place to start.
Put a Lid on It
When you boil water, place a lid on the pot to speed the process and use less energy. Keep warm dishes covered when you place them in the refrigerator. An uncovered dish of warm food creates moisture and makes the fridge’s compressor work harder, consuming more energy.
Optimize Oven Cleaning
A clean oven cooks food more evenly, but the self-cleaning feature on your oven requires heat, which means more energy consumption. To avoid using extra energy and shift to a higher efficiency kitchen, run the oven’s cleaning cycle just after you’ve finished cooking, when the oven is still warm.
Don’t Be Frosty
Like your oven, the freezer needs regular cleaning. If frost has built up more than one-quarter of an inch, manually defrost the unit to improve the freezer’s efficiency, avoid unnecessary energy waste, and save on your electricity bill.
Each time you open the oven door, the temperature inside drops by as much as 25 degrees. Instead of opening the door to check on the progress of your dish, switch on the oven light or eliminate any unnecessary peeking and trust your baking skills!
Skip the Oven When You Can
Microwaves, toaster ovens, and other small kitchen appliances consume less electricity than ovens or stovetops. This makes them great alternatives for cooking in an energy-efficient kitchen. In hotter months, ovens can add unwanted heat to your kitchen, so use the outdoor grill to avoid heating up the house.
Try a Slow Cooker Recipe
Slow cookers use significantly less energy than your oven and allow for easier cleanup. Bonus perk: They can provide enough food for plenty of leftovers. You may be surprised by how you can prepare many of your favorite dishes in a slow cooker and taste just as delicious as when made in an oven.
Use Your Dishwasher Efficiently
It’s a waste of energy to wash partial loads, so if you’re wondering how to save energy in the kitchen, wait until you have a full load of dirty dishes to run the dishwasher. You can also conserve energy by allowing your dishes to air dry in the dishwasher instead of running the drying cycle. If you prop the door open and allow air to circulate, your dishes will dry even faster.
Use the Right Pan
When cooking, match the size of the pan to the size of the heating element on your stovetop. If a pan is too large or too small for the burner, it will take longer to heat up, wasting energy, regardless of whether you use energy-efficient products.
Test Your Fridge Seals
Place a dollar bill or small piece of paper halfway into your fridge and close the door. If the dollar bill drops or is easy to pull out, the seals on the fridge are too loose and energy is escaping. The seals may need to be replaced, or it may be time to start looking at energy-efficient refrigerators.
Keep Pans Clean
The shiny metal on your cookware helps to reflect heat, which cooks food quicker and more evenly. If pots and pans are blackened or dirty, they won’t work as efficiently, so take time to thoroughly clean your pans after every use.
If you’ve ever turned a stove burner or oven on only to realize you forgot to chop an ingredient, you’ve wasted energy. Be sure to do all your prep work before turning on your appliances so you can fully optimize your cooking time and save energy.
These simple habit changes, along with larger upgrades, can help you create an energy-efficient kitchen and reduce your monthly electric bills. By limiting your energy usage, you can decrease your household’s carbon footprint and help keep the environment healthy and clean.