How can I reduce the amount of energy I use while cooking?

stove-frontAlice’s last “Reduce This” question is:

How to reduce the energy I use in cooking.

I’ve started putting any extra water I boil in the kettle into a thermos flask ready for the next cup of tea, but there must be loads of other ways to cut this down too.

We talked about ways to make the most out of boiled water back during our water week for World Water Day in March but I like this new focus on energy.

The biggest thing I think is using pan lids where possible – it amazes me how much less gas is needed to keep something at a rolling boil when there is a lid on the pan. I’d also recommend getting a range of pan sizes and using the most appropriate one for the task in hand particularly when boiling things in water – boiling eggs (which required a certain depth of water no matter what the diameter of the pan) being a prime example.

What have you tried? What works? What doesn’t?

Has anyone tried alternative cooking methods to cut down on fossil fuel use such as solar ovens?

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13 Responses to “How can I reduce the amount of energy I use while cooking?”

  1. use pans small in diameter,but high

  2. Bobbie says:

    I try to use the same heat where possible for another dish.

    I don’t use my oven in summer as it heats the whole house up causing the a/c to work harder.

    Yes! I have made and used a box solar oven. It gets good and hot, even in winter. Works great but requires moving around to catch the sun’s rays. Here are plains similar to mine.

    Here is a sample of different ones that can be made:

  3. Nicole says:

    I try to use our toaster oven instead of the oven whenever I can. Also, according to my Dad, using an electric kettle is more energy efficient.

  4. Kara says:

    I have to admit that I’m not sure if it’s that much more energy efficient, but I do a lot of cooking and heating water in the microwave. It definitely takes less time! An electric kettle is more efficient than an open stovetop but we have counters the size of postage stamps so no room for appliances. We’ve also put pizza stones in our oven; the residual heat they store allows us to turn off the oven up to 15 minutes before cooking time is up. I do some hybrid cooking, too, like doing the bulk of the cooking in the microwave and then finishing on the stove to brown and get crispy.

  5. Alice says:

    I don’t have any pizza stones, but I do have bricks, which would serve the same purpose if I put them in the bottom of the oven. They’d also make the cooker more efficient in the same way a fridge or freezer is more efficient when it’s full – basically less heat is lost in the air leaving the appliance when you open the door.

    Cutting food up into smaller pieces saves energy because smaller bits cook quicker.

    It always amazes me how many people DON’T put lids on pans, including environmental activists who should know better!

    Oooh, and put tin foil in the tray of your grill pan. Not only does it make it much easier to clean, but it also reflects a lot of heat back up again to whatever you’re cooking.

  6. 1. Serve more salads as appetisers and cut fruits as opposed to baked desserts. Not only are these options healthier, they are more time and energy-saving.

    2. Steaming (fish, chicken, vegetables, mushrooms, gourds and melons) is an uncomplicated energy-saving food preparation method, especially if you have a tiered pot where you can make soup or stew in the lower pot and steam food in a steaming tray above the pot.

    3. Make a solar oven for use in the summer months — I use mine for tortilla chips, toast, English muffin pizzas and S’mores.

    2. Use a pot with good heat-retaining properties (e.g. claypots, crockpots and stoneware) for soups, stews and curries. There are thermal pots in the market that retain so much heat that food is evenly cooked long after the pot has been taken off the flame. How it works is that the food is brought to boil, then the flame is switched off and the pot is put into the thermal outer pot. The food it kept at the temperature of the pot when taken off the stove, so it remains very hot, not just warm, for hours.

    5. Use a microwave oven whenever possible, as it heats only the food or water, and not the surrounding air, and does not have to be preheated.

  7. Clare says:

    I turn off the oven before the end of cooking and let the residual heat do its thing.

    I rarely cook just one thing in the oven — last night I used it to bake a cheesecake and some chicken at the same time. I’ll stick a crumble in with the roast, or a dish of fruit that I would otherwise have stewed on the stovetop. I’ve even found a way of baking greens (put it in a lidded ovenproof pot with a little water and whatever spices you like for 15-20 mins at the end of cooking time). And I’ll always put a skewer of potatoes in when I’m cooking a stew.

    I use a folding steamer for my veggies, and drop it in on top of the potatoes or pasta.

    We have electric hotplates, and it’s very difficult to cook with a lid because things tend to overboil and spit. The plates seem to have two settings: too hot and too cool. I miss having a gas stove so much.

  8. Bobbie says:

    Yay!!! I had an Eureka while reading these posts and think I’ll try my pizza stone in my solar oven and see how it works….

  9. Myrtle May says:

    I’m stunned that nobody has mentioned a haybox cooker, they are fabulous for cooking soups and stews, though I don’t think I’d use them for meaty things. Mine is a polystyrene lidded box cadged from a greengrocer stuffed with screwed up newspaper, works a treat. There are loads of designs for them.
    Also using a pressure cooker, mine was £3 from a charity shop. I cook most beans and pulses, by fetching it up to steam, leaving it to boil for a couple of minutes then turning off the heat and allowing the residual heat to do the work. I generally check the thing when its cooled down, if they are not quite cooked I repeat the procedure. A bit long winded, but it sure beats boiling beans for 90 minutes.

  10. Lizzy says:

    Just a little thing – if you’re boiling more than one saucepan , consider doing them one after another on the same hob , so that no extra energy is used to get the hob up to cooking temperature. Keep the first thing warm by putting it in a steamer pan on top of the second thing.

    Oh, and that’s another thing – steamer pans for doing two things for the same amount of energy. :)

  11. Shorty says:

    My grandma always used to save all boiled water in a big thermos. It’s the glass kind that keeps it hot for days. After a day or two when she thought it wasn’t good anymore, she’d pour it on our sponges to sterilize them. This also extends the life of the sponge. You can also microwave it too.

  12. Melinda Goodick says:

    My mom puts a nail in a potato to help it cook faster, from the inside out. She has nails that she only uses for this. I use my shish kebab skewers the same way and get several potatoes on it, 1/2″ between each one to maintain the heat. Fot that matter, anything that can be cooked on a shish skewer would cook faster by the same principal.

  13. Cipollina says:

    My aunt used to put an old 2 kg weight on the lid when she boiled potatoes and turned off the stove after only a few minutes. She left the pot like that for about twenty minutes or so, during which the trapped heat cooked the potatoes through.

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