As the seasons change from summer to fall, many cooks turn from the grill back to the kitchen and bakers start whipping up pumpkin or apple everything. It's easy to save energy in the kitchen this time of year, just follow these few simple tips from the California Energy Commission.
- Use the smallest appliance for the job. Microwave ovens use less than half the energy required by a conventional oven.
- Use the smallest pan and burner needed for the job. Match the size of the pan to the heating element. More heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air. Believe it or not, a six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner will waste more than 40 percent of the energy!
- Cook with lids on your pans. Cooking pasta without a lid on the pot can use three times as much energy.
- With glass or ceramic pans, you can turn your oven temperature down 25 degrees, and foods will cook just as quickly.
- Don't open the oven door to take a peek at what's cooking inside. Instead, turn on the oven light and check the cooking status through the oven window. Opening the oven door lowers the temperature inside by as much as 25 degrees - which increases cooking time and wastes energy.
- As long as your oven is on, cook several items at the same time. Just make sure you leave enough room for the heat to circulate around each casserole and pie plate.
- Self-cleaning ovens use less energy for normal cooking because of the higher insulation levels built into them. However, if you use the self-cleaning feature more than once a month, you'll end up using more energy than you will save. Consider using the self-cleaning feature immediately after using your oven, to take advantage of the residual heat.