How to save money and energy in your kitchen
Cooking isn’t something we can easily split, but there are some tasty tricks you can deploy to cut the fat off your electric and gas bill. The first thing is simple awareness.
For a tolerable and expected power demand rather than a nasty surprise, develop an understanding of the running costs inherent in every appliance you plug in or turn on in the kitchen, and how it’s best used to deliver economical results and delicious.
Where there are power saving modes, they’re likely to be described in the instruction manual – or perhaps a PDF.
Heating a large cavity with electrical elements to high temperatures – often over long periods of time – ovens are expensive to operate.
I’m going to use the running costs of a typical fan oven, at 2.5kWh or 2.5kW per hour (this oven would be rated at 2500W).
So if you’re doing a long slow roast for, say, an hour and a half, you can expect to use around 3.75kWh before you turn on the cooker to use the rings etc.
It would be easy to reach for 6kWh electricity units to cook a meal.
A slow cooker can deliver a large family meal for 1.3 kWh or even less in some cases.
The benefits of long, slow cooking don’t end there, as slow cooking preserves many of the nutrients in foods lost by scorching temperatures.
We use about 3-5% of our energy for cooking. However, since many non-fan-assisted overs come in at 3000W-5000W, power isn’t something you should skimp on when considering liters and looks.
Still, let’s dare a reduced peak power cost of 35 cents per kWh of electricity – that’s €2.10 for this 2,500W fan-assisted meal.
Now we all have to live our lives, and no one is suggesting that you end the succulent dinner of lamb that everyone has been looking forward to, but there are ways to make using your stove every other day a little more efficient and thoughtful.
First, when buying an oven, buy a cavity size and wattage that suits your needs that carries the highest energy efficiency price you can afford.
A is the best with the new device ratings applied by the EU since April last year. An A-plus model will be from last year (early last year). It won’t be better or worse than today’s A, it’s just on the old note.
A good energy rating means that the electricity used by the device is well isolated to stay within the case and is likely balanced throughout the volume of the cavity (to use each shelf efficiently). As a general rule, an A-rated oven is fitted with triple glazing as standard.
A high power rating does not automatically mean that a cooker is very cheap to run. This is a measure of its effectiveness for its size class only.
Yet kilowatts aren’t the only measurement of a range or cooktop.
Fan ovens are not bad equipment and, by circulating the heat in the cavity, they actually reduce cooking times; larger ovens, with a fan, cost more to run per hour.
Your habits and handling of the oven and any cooker will determine how efficient it can be, and many of us have limited knowledge of the instructions for operating this and many of our other key appliances.
Before investing in a super oil stove, you might want to consider the less than appetizing truth.
According to fuel consumption figures published by Aga, a traditional four-oven oil-fired Aga consumes approximately 2,650 liters of oil each year for cooking alone; that’s €4,000 if we value kerosene at a modest €1.50 per litre.
Investigate Aga’s fast and responsive natural gas and electric models, much more believable and equally beautiful, which run at half that running cost.
Any oven creating a lot of background heat should be investigated to ensure that it is properly sealed and insulated.
- Consider recipes that reduce or eliminate the use of your oven for long cooking times at high temperatures. Reserve your oven for the big days, holidays and weekends to celebrate this baking and roasting;
- Use the entire cavity and cook as many foods as possible at once. Batch cooking and finding recipes that use the whole oven rather than splitting portions between the trays and the oven is a real money saver;
- When the oven is already warm, it’s worth reusing it for something quick to freeze or use tomorrow;
- Keep the oven door closed while cooking – peeking just makes the process more difficult as the oven has to make incremental fractional kWh additions to work; built-in oven cameras are featured on expensive ovens from manufacturers such as Miele;
- Each time you lift the lid of a slow cooker, you add about 15 minutes to the cooking time;
- Pyrolytic cleaning cycles take the oven up to 500°C – expensive if you’re a dirty pup who cleans once a week. Instead, try to clean it regularly and manually.
- If possible, thaw food before cooking. Not all processed foods allow this, but a block of ice in the oven consumes much more energy.
- If the recipe does not call for a preheated oven, do not preheat and, when it does, be prepared to immediately insert the food into the cavity. Set an audible alarm if possible;
- Fan assist can dramatically reduce cooking times – don’t unsubscribe when cooking a longer recipe;
- Parboil vegetables to shorten roasting time;
- When preparing meals that take hours, turn the oven off for the last 10 minutes. A well-insulated oven will take some time to cool down. If your kitchen heats up significantly when your oven is on, it’s likely to be very inefficient.
- If you cook on an oil stove, try branching out into electric slow cooking and smart countertop appliances that don’t require you to fire up the kerosene-swallowing monster every day, especially during the summer.
The cooker is an everyday servant, but you can help it deliver the same performance while consuming fewer watts per meal.
Match the size and material of your pan to the size of the ring – this reduces air wastage and, if possible, seal ingredients or water under a lid to speed up heating.
Some pans work best on conductive electric rings, while others sing with the responsive, fast nature of gas with its precision control.
In hobs, electric hobs are more efficient at the point of use than a gas flame – but open flame gas produces more ambient heat in the kitchen than electricity.
Connecting directly to a dedicated pan by electromagnetism, induction hobs are the most efficient for heating volumes of liquid and food in the pan.
Induction surpasses both conventional electric hobs and gas hobs. Consumer group that reports that to boil the same large pot of water, a gas hob took 9.69 minutes, an electric ceramic hob took 7.47 minutes, while the induction hob accelerated to 4.81 minutes (which.co.uk).
The less tasty news is that you will probably have to go for not only an expensive induction hob, but also a set of conductive pans to match.
Keep the rings and bottom of pans clean to ensure your food goes straight into the container unhindered.
Toasting, including using toaster bags for toasted sandwiches, beats toasting costs.
Consider a slow cooker or one of the new lines of countertop pressure cookers on top of a traditional full oven or stovetop for curries, soups and stews.
Slow cookers offer delicious meals ready when you get home, for as little as 200w.
Don’t mix them with microwaves or multicookers, as they didn’t change the bar much, in some cases allowing you to brown the meat before lowering the watts for a four to six hour run.
Newer products like the NINJA Foodi line of multi cookers look a lot like a stovetop pressure cooker but can operate at up to 1000W depending on function which can include steaming, air frying, dehydrating, conventional roasting, vacuum, pressure. slow cooking and settings. Priced at €209.99 for a 6l model.