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Energy Saving, Home and Garden

Save Energy With One Simple Step #9

save energy defrost fridge

It’s Thursday and that means it’s energy saving o’clock!

If you’re a new reader – let me explain – for the last few Thursdays I’ve been writing on saving energy in one simple step, without the need to buy any fancy equipment or spend any money.  They’re all really easy to do, and once you get into the habit of doing them they’ll become so second nature that you won’t notice doing them.  While each tip won’t save that much money or energy, cumulatively they will add up to substantial savings.

This week’s tip is:

plan ahead kitchen energy

Plan, plan, plan!

I’m a huge advocate of freezing leftovers or making larger quanities of what you’re cooking for dinner and freezing portions for later.  Nothing can beat that organised (re: smug!) feeling when you’ve got a freezer stocked full of meals ready for when you need them (and it’s energy efficient!).

The downside to this is that some nights I get lazy, and just can’t be bothered cooking.  Knowing that I’ve got a stack of pre-prepared meals, I grab something out of the freezer and defrost it in the microwave prior to heating it.  Sound familiar to you too?

While this is certainly convenient, it adds around 30% to 50% of energy required to cook the meal.   If only I’d been a bit more organised and taken the food out of the freezer and placed it in the fridge the night before to defrost.  That would have saved all of that energy, and has the added bonus of reducing the amount of work your fridge has to do as it acts as an icepack, helping to cool the fridge down.  Failing to defrost the night before, I could have at least taken the meal out as soon as I got home and left it sitting at room temperature for a couple of hours before cooking.

So the lesson here is definitely to be more organised.  Some might say write a meal plan for the week to help, but that’s just a step too organised for me!  Instead I’m going to make small steps and plan one night ahead.  Who’s with me on this?

By the way, here is some handy advice on defrosting food safely – no-one likes a side helping of food posioning with their dinner!

I’m thinking about reducing the frequency of these energy saving posts.  Rather than weekly, perhaps run them monthly instead.  What do you think?  I need some help deciding so do let me know in the comments below whether you’d prefer to see them monthly or weekly!


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Energy Saving, Home and Garden

Save Energy With One Simple Step #8

We’re up to tip number 8 of my Save Energy With One Simple Step series.  That’s a whole lot of potential energy savings to be made without doing an awful lot!

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

So, tip number 8:

microwaves more energy efficient

Microwave it.

I don’t know how you feel about microwaves.  Growing up we never had one as my parents worried about “rays”, and I never had one myself until my mid-twenties.  Then, when I worked in my first proper job I treated myself to one, and I’ve never been without one since.  I still don’t know about the “rays” (high-frequency radio waves) but what I do know is that modern microwaves can use around 50 to 65% less energy than an oven to cook your food, depending on what you’re cooking (according to the Consumer Energy Centre).

You see, microwaves work by using those 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 degrees C) so for every portion of food I cook in the microwave, I’m saving at least 25 minutes of oven electricity.

For large quantities of food, then 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, if you can.

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 potatos 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!

See you next Thursday for the next tip, in the meantime keep your eye out for my next post, coming up shortly!

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