Save Energy in the Kitchen Without Buying New Appliances

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Typically, I cook three meals a day, only occasionally eating out at bars and restaurants. This saves tons of money, but it also means cooking is a big part of my electricity bill.

If you want to save energy in the kitchen, the most significant step you can take is investing in high-end appliances certified by Energy Star. Unfortunately, that’s an investment not everyone can afford to make. These are some free and simple ways to cut your electricity consumption in the kitchen without buying brand-new appliances.

Refrigerator

Is your refrigerator running? Then you’d better make sure it’s running efficiently! Since they’re on 24/7, fridges use a lot of electricity. There’s no use switching it off for a few hours a day, since it usually takes more energy to start back up than it does to idle (also, it’s pretty precarious in terms of food safety). Instead, try these tips:

  • Set the fridge temperature to between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius and the freezer to -18. Your food isn’t any safer at cooler temperatures, and this will cut the electricity it takes to keep it cool.
  • Don’t put your fridge right up against the wall. You need to leave space around the back to let air circulate. Pressing it too close to the wall will lead to a clogged vent and fan.
  • Turn off the fridge and clean the vent and fan at least two to three times a year. The less dust and debris, the better your fridge will run.
  • Keep the fridge and freezer well-stocked. Things stay colder when they’re close to other cold items. If you don’t keep much food in there, consider adding bags of ice in between food items to help them stay at the right temperature.
  • Don’t put hot food in the fridge. Let it cool a bit before it goes in so it doesn’t warm up the air inside.
  • Defrost your freezer periodically and leave about 5cm of space around the walls to allow for air circulation.

Stove/Oven

Electric ovens can be energy hogs. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce their impact on your energy bill:

  • Cook with a smaller appliance when you can. Microwaves, slow cookers, and convection ovens all use less electricity than a standard oven.
  • Clean the oven at least once a month. This will help it heat up faster and run more efficiently.
  • When cooking on the stove top, select a pan that matches the size of a burner. If you use a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner, you’ll waste over 40% of the heat.
  • Do your cooking prep (washing and cutting vegetables, seasoning meat, etc.) before you turn on the oven.
  • Cook larger portions, or even multiple meals, at once. Store the leftovers for later. It takes less energy to cook a lot of food and reheat the leftovers than it does to cook multiple meals at different times.

Dishwasher

True or false: washing dishes by hand uses less water than running the dishwasher. Turns out it’s false! Most modern, energy-efficient washers can get the job done with less water than most people can by hand. Of course, they do use electricity, but you can reduce that amount:

  • Only wash when the dishwasher is full. Washing large amounts of dishes and cutlery doesn’t use any more water than a small load, and it uses less electricity than multiple uses.
  • Instead of running the dry cycle, remove the dishes once the wash cycle is over and let them air-dry in a drying rack.