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Saving Electricity In The Kitchen

By Bruce of Stone Marmot

Feb. 4, 2013

Here is a list of simple things that can be done in the kitchen to reduce electricity use. Many of these things may seem a bit inconvenient at first. But after you get used to doing them, they often become second nature, things you do without even thinking much about them, sort of like brushing your teeth or shifting a manual transmission vehicle. Many of these things also require no special skills or tools or remodeling, just some changes in habits.

Many of these suggestions help reduce the heat and/or humidity in the house. This will reduce the need for air conditioning, which is important here in Florida where I live. In old Florida, this was one of the reasons the kitchen was often in a building separate from the main house, though the more important reason was because kitchens caught on fire far more often than other parts of the house. If you live in a colder climate or during cold weather, you may want to keep as much heat in you house as possible. So modify these suggestions accordingly.

  • If you have an electric stove with the typical spiral-type removable ceramic resistance heaters, make sure the reflectors under stove heaters are clean and shiny. You want to reflect as much of the heat from the heaters back to the pot sitting on the heater.

  • Often, small specialized appliances, such as slow cookers (crock pots), toaster ovens, breadmaking machines, and microwave ovens, use less electricity than the regular stove or oven. So use these small specialized appliances instead of your regular electric stove or oven.

  • If possible, move heat generating appliances outside of the air conditioned house during warm weather. For example, I use my breadmaker in the kitchen in cold weather but run it in the garage during warm weather.

  • Use the minimum amount of water necessary for boiling or steaming items. But make sure you have enough water in the pot to account for evaporation and steam so that your pot doesn't boil dry, a condition that can lead to a fire.

  • If possible, cook items in the same pot at the same time instead of using multiple pots and burners. For example, heat noodles and beans in the same pot of water at the same time. Also, make stews or soups instead of separate dishes.

  • If possible, use only one heater and cook items sequentially instead of all at once on multiple heaters. It takes time to get a heater warmed up. Cooking all the items sequentially on a single stove heater saves the electricity needed to bring multiple heaters up to temperature.

  • Once your stove burner and liquids get to temperature, they will stay at temperature for a long time. Consequently, you can “coast cook” by turning the electricity off before the food is totally cooked and let this stored heat finish the cooking. For example, when I cook pasta, I bring the water to a boil, put the pasta into the pot, and then turn the electricity for that heater completely off. The pasta still cooks thoroughly in the same amount of time as if I had left the burner turned on. But be careful and research your food first as some items, such as beans and some tropical spinaches, need to be cooked a minimum time at a rolling boil to deactivate toxins.

  • When draining hot water from pots, drain it into a bucket in the house during cold weather, outside of the house during hot weather. Let it cool before disposing.

  • Always use lids on your pots and keep the lid completely over the pot. Items will often cook faster and on lower heat levels when the pots are covered. This takes a little practice in getting the heat settings right to make sure the covered pot doesn't boil over. If boiling something with milk in it, it will almost always boil over the pot if not watched carefully.

  • Smaller pieces and thinner items cook faster and need less energy to cook than bigger and thicker pieces.

  • Don't use an electric dishwasher.

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