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Energy efficient ways to cook

Cooking in the kitchen may only use a small percentage of your household's energy usage. However, when it comes time to pay your bill, small energy savings may add up.

With some minor changes to your energy usage habits, you could save more time, money and effort in the kitchen.

Saving energy in the kitchen comes down to the food you’re cooking and how you’re cooking it. You don’t necessarily need to invest in state-of-the-art technology to improve the energy efficiency of your kitchen. Being more mindful of your cooking processes can help reduce the energy you use.

Understanding your appliances

Which appliances you choose and how you use them may greatly impact your energy consumption.

Under pressure

Smaller appliances generally use less power than larger ones. Craving a warm, toasted cheese sandwich on a cold day? Consider using a toaster or sandwich press instead of an oven or grill to perfectly cook the cheese. According to sources, toasting in a toaster or sandwich maker instead of the grill may reduce energy use by up to 75%.

Bake off

As the nights get colder, the need for warm, gooey, chocolate brownies grows stronger. If you plan to cook in the oven, consider baking other snacks at the same time. This will help you save time as you won’t have to pre-heat the oven twice, reducing the energy used in the kitchen.

Check and replace damaged, oven door seals regularly. Look for fan-forced, double or triple-glazed doors and well-insulated ovens, which may be the most energy efficient.

A woman turning on her gas cooktop to boil water in a kettle

A slower pace

Want to impress your guests? Looking to cook up a storm for your next dinner party? Slow cookers are an energy-efficient cooking appliances that you can leave on throughout the day while you’re at work or need to prepare other things.

Several factors determine how much energy your slow cooker consumes. An important factor is buying a slow cooker with multiple settings. This way you have the option to cook at a low heat over many hours, using less energy and gently cooking in the flavours.

Burn baby burn

Stove cooktops come in different types and sizes and vary slightly in energy usage. The two most common types of stovetops are gas and electricity. Gas is typically cheaper and maybe a more efficient option. Induction stovetops are also becoming popular as they are faster and more efficient than gas cooking. They use electromagnetic technology, transferring the heat directly to the pot rather than heating up the surfaces.

Choosing the right size saucepan and type, and using lids on pots and pans can help keep your energy consumption from boiling over. Simmering food or water rather than boiling it vigorously may also help you save more energy.

Young woman on gas stove in kitchen

Cleaning up

Did you know that dishwashers don’t just save you time, but they may be more water-efficient than hand washing dishes every day? Wait until your dishwasher is full before running it and try out your eco mode; you may find your dishes wash just as well while using less energy. Don’t run your dishwasher in peak times; instead, pop it on just before you go to bed to run in off-peak times.

It’s getting hot in here

A microwave can be more energy efficient than using a stove or oven when preparing smaller quantities of food. They require no pre-heat period like an oven and use little energy when not in use.

When your microwave is not in use, it’s just an expensive clock. To avoid any cumulative standby costs, if possible only switch it on when you need it.

Full steam ahead

Boiling the kettle will cost about the same amount, regardless of your chosen model. The more water you have in the kettle, the more energy is required to bring it to boiling point. However, you can save more by only boiling what you need. If you only need one cup of water, measure it out and add just a little extra for evaporation or spills.

In thin air

An air fryer may be your best option the next time you’re looking to whip up a batch of hot chips. An air fryer has a much shorter cooking time than a traditional oven. They can also be smaller in size and therefore use less energy when cooking.

Preparation is key

To save more energy in the kitchen, prepare your meals in advance. Pick the meals you would like to have for the week and defrost the ingredients the day before. Cooking food from frozen will take longer and may also use more energy.

Chop your vegetables into smaller pieces to cook faster and reduce your cooking time. Simple but effective, especially when you have a hungry family waiting.

If possible, prepare double meal portions and cook them together in batches. You can freeze the extra or have them for leftovers during the week. It takes less energy and effort to reheat food than to cook twice.

Don’t peek

Patience is a virtue. It can be tempting to take a sneak peek of your pineapple carrot cake rising or open the oven door and breathe in your mum’s Sunday roast. However, opening the oven door or pot lid too often will cause unnecessary heat loss and increase cooking times.

Closeup of a pineapple carrot cake


Timing is everything

Typically, the less time you spend cooking, the less energy you use. Set timers to stay on top of your cooking times. We’ve all forgotten about our delicious cake that was overdue 15 minutes ago – whoops.

Only use your appliances for the time you need and make sure to switch them off at the wall to reduce standby costs. Turn the oven off 15 minutes before the cooking time is complete. Food will continue cooking at the set temperature for a little while longer, as long as the door remains closed.

Cooking alternatives

Another way to save more energy while cooking is to rely less on power. Consider swapping out a cooked meal for a nutritious vegetable sandwich, salad or raw snack, such as these raw, peanut butter protein balls – yum!

Save more energy

Energy efficiency goes beyond knowing what your appliances use. Check out our tips for using less energy in every room of your home.

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