The holiday season is upon us, and that means planning the Thanksgiving feast. For many, preparing a turkey and the trimmings is just as enjoyable as eating the meal.
However, the time-consuming process of cooking this special meal can gobble up energy, especially when you consider all the appliances in use — refrigerators, mixers, food processors, the oven, stove, and, of course, the dishwasher. In fact, according to the Department of Energy, your kitchen can account for 15 percent of your total energy use — on a regular day.
But don’t let the specter of high energy bills dampen your Thanksgiving cheer. Here are a few tips from Eco Three to help reduce energy usage while cooking during the holidays.
Heat escapes every time you open the door to peek at your turkey. Use the oven light instead.
Use pots and pans wisely.
Always cover pots and pans. Trapping the heat inside the pot or pan with a lid will reduce cooking times. And make sure the size of the pot you are using matches the size of the burner. Using the right-sized pots on the stove can save about $36 annually for an electric range or $18 for gas, according to the Department of Energy..
Grill your turkey.
If you have a gas grill, you might consider cooking your turkey or ham outside. Gas grills are clean-burning and one of the most efficient options.
Use your refrigerator wisely.
Make sure to cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered items release moisture and make the compressor work harder, according to the Department of Energy. Also, keep the refrigerator door closed and remind children to do the same. Try to think about what you need from the fridge before opening the door so you won’t have to open it repeatedly. You can also set up drinks in coolers outside the fridge so your guests won’t have to open the door each time and let the cold out.
Also leave leftovers out until they have cooled before putting them in the refrigerator. Hot foods make your refrigerator work harder to cool them down.
Use your microwave.
The microwave is the most efficient (and fastest) means of cooking. It’s also a great way to prep food for recipes. (Bacon crumbles for potatoes, anyone?)
Use your dishwasher wisely.
Run full loads of dishes, but don’t overload it. Use the energy-saving “air dry” feature if it’s available on your dishwasher. Avoid using the rinse hold setting for just a few dishes because it uses three to seven gallons of water each cycle.
Find the right turkey.
Make sure you get the right size bird for your party. A smaller turkey takes less time to cook and uses less energy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking a thawed stuffed turkey of regular size for 4-4.5 hours. Electric ovens use 2 kWh when used at 350° for an hour. That means cooking a holiday turkey could use about 8 kWh of energy. That’s the equivalent of washing two loads of laundry.
Also, thaw your turkey in cold water, not in your refrigerator, and cook your dressing separate from your turkey to reduce oven usage.
With a little planning and discipline, you can create a feast and be energy smart. Follow these guidelines, and your energy bill may be just as pleasing as your dinner!
Interested in other ways to make your home more energy efficient? Contact Eco Three, a trusted, leading-edge home energy authority dedicated to helping homeowners in Alabama through our comprehensive home energy audits and energy-efficient upgrades. Our nationally accredited team of hometown experts uses the latest technology to provide actionable solutions to outrageous energy bills and home comfort issues. We’re not a franchise – we’re an experienced group of people with a unique plan and a sincere interest in making a difference in people’s lives and the environment. We service existing homes as well as new construction.