Energy Saving

Energy Saving, Home and Garden

How To Save Energy While Cooking

how to save energy while cooking

Want to know how to save energy while cooking? I’ve got a really simple energy-saving tip on this for you.

Energy saving is important for the environment because on average, electricity and gas use creates about a quarter of all carbon emissions from our homes. Cut our electricity and gas use, and we cut our carbon emissions, helping to tackle climate change.

To help, I thought I’d start a blog series on how to save energy simply. And whilst you can save energy by making improvements to your home, for this series I want to focus on the tips anyone can do. Whether you own your home or not. So I’ll be focusing on the tips that don’t need any fancy equipment, nor do they require you to spend any money whatsoever. This is especially relevant as energy bills are expected to rise steeply in 2021.

Today’s tip is about saving energy in the kitchen whilst you are cooking.  Which, whatever form of energy you’re talking about, then I am all for!

How To Save Energy Cooking

how to save energy while cooking

Whether you pronounce it microwave or meek-ro wah-vé a la Nigella Lawson, did you know that using your microwave is a great way to save energy when you are cooking?

Yup, according to Energy Star, a US programme that rates the energy efficiency of household appliances, cooking or re-heating small portions of food in the microwave can save as much as 80% of the energy used to cook or warm the food up in the oven.

You see, microwaves work by using high-frequency radio waves to heat water molecules inside the food.  This makes them ideal for cooking small quantities of food, very quickly.  With small quantities of food, not only do they cook in minutes (or less) but you’re also saving energy through the fact that you don’t need to preheat your oven.  My electric oven takes an age to heat up (15 minutes or so to 200°C) so for every portion of food I cook in the microwave, I’m saving at least 25 minutes of oven electricity.

Should I Microwave Larger Quantities Of Food?

For large quantities of food, then you won’t save energy cooking food in your microwave. Here, it’s always more efficient to use your hob or oven, due to the larger content of water molecules and the differing way that hobs and ovens cook food.  In terms of energy efficiency – microwaves are the most energy-efficient, followed by hobs, followed by ovens.  So look to cook your food on the hob first, before the oven, where possible.

So there you have it: for large portions of food – use your oven or hob.  For small portions of food – microwave it.  Apart from a baked potato – I hate microwaved baked potatoes so I’ll give you that one exception!

And today, as I’m in a good mood, I’ll give you two tips for the price of one: remember to switch your microwave off at the wall when you’re done so you’re not wasting energy powering the microwave’s clock!

AND as I feel like spoiling you even more, here’s a link to some surprising uses for microwaves, including sterilising sponges without the use of bleach, and sterilising garden soil to make it fit for planting seedlings in. Don’t say I’m not good to you!

And do check out my other tips on saving energy in the kitchen:

Energy Saving, Home and Garden

Why Filling Your Freezer Can Save You Money & Energy

why you should fill your freezer to save energy

It sounds wild, but here’s why filling your freezer can save you both money and energy.

For the last little while, I’ve been sharing easy energy-saving tips that anyone can do, regardless of whether you own your home or not.

Many energy-saving tips focus on the big stuff. Things like insulating your walls, or switching to double or even triple glazing. These are very valid energy-saving tips. However, as someone who rented for many years, I remember the frustration at having ambivalent landlords who didn’t care that my energy bills were sky-high. I also remember the frustration of lacking the autonomy to be able to make these improvements. Hence my focus on more accessible energy-saving tips.

The other week I spoke about the importance of dusting your fridge to help save energy. So, today, let’s get right back to your fridge freezer with today’s tip.

Fill Your Freezer to Save Energy

why you should fill your freezer to save energy

Is your freezer looking a little bit on the empty side?  Perhaps it’s a few days before you do a food shop and all you’ve got in there is a bag of frozen peas and an unlabelled tub of indiscriminate contents? We’ve all been there.  Or maybe you never really have much food in your freezer, to begin with.  Well, you could be pouring energy down the drain.

You see, freezers work best when they are full.  This is because freezers expend most energy when they have to cool down the warm air that gets in when you open the door to take food out.  A packed to the brim freezer means there is less room for warm air to get in. What’s more, the frozen goods in the freezer cool down any warm air that does make its way in, meaning your freezer doesn’t have to work quite so hard. So go wild and fill your freezer to the brim!

What If I Can’t Afford to Fill My Freezer?

The good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune on food to fill your freezer. Empty plastic bottles filled with water will do the trick, as will freezer bags filled with ice cubes.  Styrofoam packing blocks will also do just the job – and it’s a good way to recycle this otherwise unrecyclable material.

My top tip is to keep your frozen food near the front of your freezer, so it’s easy to hand. Having to rummage through your freezer, past styrofoam, and water bottles to find your food, will quickly negate any energy-saving benefits. The key to maximum energy-efficiency with your freezer is to get in and out as quickly as possible.

A handy bonus is that if your freezer is filled with frozen water bottles, then if you have a power-cut it will take much longer for your food to defrost.

I’d also recommend defrosting your freezer on a regular basis, for maximum efficiency. You might be able to save up to £200 a year!

A Word On Fridges

Fridges are slightly different beasts.  If you pack your fridge too tightly then you’ll over-work your fridge, using much more energy that you need to.  Your food will cool too much, and perhaps even freeze. Trust me, nobody wants frozen lettuce.  Other food might not cool enough, and nobody wants a tummy bug either.  Especially not frozen lettuce and a tummy bug at the same time!  So make so you don’t overpack your fridge and that air can circulate easily.

You won’t save hundreds of pounds following this tip. But if you change your habits and implement little energy-saving steps here and there, like the ones that I’ve mentioned throughout this series (tips that don’t take too much effort), then these savings will soon add up. Things like not charging your smartphone overnight, setting your boiler at the right temperature, and using a lid whilst you are cooking all help. Which is no bad thing in the face of impending energy bill increases in 2021.