With gas and electricity prices continuing to increase and the effects of climate change becoming more visible by the day, many Irish households are exploring new ways to lower their bills and carbon footprint.
That is why we have compiled a list of simple and easy-to-implement practices that you can adopt that will reduce your energy consumption in the kitchen.
From choosing energy-efficient appliances to keeping your oven door closed when you cook, this guide will walk you through how to make your kitchen habits eco-friendly, one appliance at a time.
Purchase energy-efficient appliances
Although you might want to hang on to the oven you’ve had for the last 15 years, it is likely costing you a lot of money in comparison to a new eco-friendly model, as the older it gets the more energy it has to consume to keep it running.
Investing in energy-efficient appliances will help you save money in the long run as they are designed to use less energy, last longer and be more durable.
You can discover the energy efficiency of an appliance by looking at the energy label displayed on the product in the store.
To learn more about the energy label grading system check out this guide.
The fridge and freezer
Don’t overpack your fridge or freezer
Overloading your fridge with goods will cause it to heat up. As a result, your fridge will have to use up more energy to keep it at the correct temperature so your produce doesn’t go off.
To stop this from happening, you should aim to keep 20% of the shortage space in your fridge free.
Don’t leave your fridge door open
Did you know that it takes 45 minutes for your fridge to reset to its original temperature for every 10-20 seconds its door is left open?
To avoid this, you can:
plan what you are going to take out of the fridge before you open it
make sure the door is closed fully when you are not using it
Let your food cool before putting it into the fridge or freezer
Whether it is leftovers from dinner or your pre-cooked lunch for work the next day, you should always allow your food to cool down before you place it into the fridge or freezer.
If you put it in hot, your fridge will have to work extra hard to cool down the food and keep the fridge at the correct temperature. Therefore, it will need to draw more energy and will cost you more to run.
Don’t put your fridge beside the dishwasher or oven
The placement of other appliances in relation to your fridge may not be something that automatically springs to mind when thinking about lowering your energy usage in the kitchen.
However, appliances like dishwashers and ovens expel heat when they are running, and as a result, your fridge will have to work harder to keep itself cool if it is beside it.
For instance, if your fridge and oven doors are open at the same time, the temperature in the fridge will increase.
Set your fridge and freezer to the right temperature
Make sure that your fridge and freezer are set at the correct temperature. If it is too hot or too cold, your food will be spoiled and you’ll be using unnecessary electricity to keep it up and running.
To ensure that you aren’t wasting energy and food, set your fridge between 2-3°C and your freezer at -15°C.
Defrost your freezer every 6 months
This will ensure that your freezer is running efficiently. If too much frost builds up, you will lose storage space and may be unable to close the freezer door, meaning your freezer will have to work harder to keep your food cold.
If your freezer is prone to frost build-up or if the frost becomes ¼ inch thick, then you should unplug your freezer and allow the frost to thaw and melt.
Lower the amount of energy you use while cooking
Use residual heat
Turn your oven and hobs off 5 minutes before you are finished cooking to allow the residual heat from the appliance to cook your food to completion.
You can even leave your oven door open once you’ve finished using it, so the residual heat can warm up your kitchen.
However, if your oven is beside your fridge you should avoid doing this when the fridge door is open.
Cook using smaller appliances
To cook your meals more efficiently, use an air fryer, slow cooker, or microwave rather than your oven.
This is because the heat within them is only being used to warm up/cook the food, not the space around it.
Bulk make your food
Making a meal plan for the upcoming week will allow you to prepare three or four dishes in one go.
Not only will this save you time, but you will use up less energy, as you can have several dishes cooking in your oven at once for example.
Once your meals have cooled, you can place them in the fridge or freezer to eat at a later date.
Cut up your food into bite-size portions
Chopping your vegetables and meat into smaller pieces can help lower your energy usage and electricity bills in the kitchen.
This is because the smaller these pieces are, the faster they cook, meaning less energy is used.
Use the right size pot on the right size ring
Choose a pot or pan that covers the whole size of the ring, if you use a pot or pan that is too small for the ring, then excess energy is released and wasted.
Similarly, if a pot or pan is too big for a ring, energy will also be wasted as it will take longer to heat up.
Put a lid on your pots and pans
Popping a lid on your pots and pans will trap the heat from the hob. As a result, your food will cook faster, and you will save energy as your cooking time is reduced.
Don’t overfill your pots with water
Boiling water takes a long time, so only use enough water to cover your food. Using more than this will increase your energy consumption.
To lower your energy usage, you can boil your water in the kettle before using it to cook, as a kettle is faster and uses up less energy.
Use a three-tier steamer
Steaming your food is one of the healthiest ways to prepare it, but did you know it is one of the most energy-efficient ways too?
With a three-tier steamer, you can cook different types of food at the same time all on one hob. For instance, you can boil your rice at the bottom, and then cook your fish and vegetables in the two steaming pans above it.
As this can all be done on one hob at the same time, your cooking time and the amount of time needed to cook an entire meal is reduced.
Avoid preheating your oven
Unless the recipe specifically requires you to have a preheated oven for example baking a cake, then don’t do it. Preheating your oven is a waste of energy.
Keep the oven door closed and clean
Did you know you can lose 20% of your oven heat if you open the door while cooking? Your oven is then forced to reheat itself, using up more energy than is necessary and causing your energy bills to increase.
Keep your oven door clean so you can see when your food is fully cooked and won’t need to open it to check.
Defrost your food naturally
Instead of using the defrost setting on your microwave, allow your food to defrost in the fridge or on the countertop overnight as no extra energy is required to do this.
Only use your dishwasher when it's full
Don’t put on a cycle if your dishwasher is only half full as it is a waste of energy and water.
You should also avoid overfilling your dishwasher as your dishes won’t be cleaned properly, which will force you to re-do the waste.
Air dry your dishes
Instead of using a heat drying cycle on your dishwasher, select the specific air-dry cycle on your machine. If this option isn’t available then open your dishwasher door to let the dishes dry naturally before the heat drying cycle begins.
Wash your clothes on a cooler setting
Similar to a dishwasher, most of the energy used by a washing machine is to heat water. By choosing to run your cycles at a lower temperature such as 30°C, you will be able to save energy and money.
Air dry your clothes
Instead of using a drying setting on your machine or a tumble dryer (which is one of the biggest energy-using appliances in the home), dry your clothes on a washing line or clothes horse.
Run your cycles during off-peak times
Take advantage of providers’ nighttime energy rates by waiting to put on your washing machine and/ or dishwasher until after 11pm, instead of during the day.
Providers want to discourage you from using your appliances during peak energy usage times i.e. 7-9am and 5-7pm because the electricity grid is under a lot of pressure during these times, therefore they charge less money for electricity used during the night as a reward.
Become energy-conscious with bonkers.ie
If you've found this guide helpful, why not check out some of our other energy-saving tips articles?
- Discover 15 ways to use electricity in your home.
- Here are 10 ways to heat your home for less.
- Are you working from home? Read our 12 ways to save money while doing that.
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