Saving Energy While Cooking

With the high temperatures, it’s tempting to run from a hot kitchen during the summer months, but with a little preparation you can cook meals without overheating yourself or house — plus, they’re easy on the energy bills!

An obvious option for summer cooking is outdoor grilling, whether gas or charcoal. Grilling doesn’t heat your home’s interior and fuel is long lasting and relatively inexpensive. Also, the direct heat makes for quick-cooking meals so there’s less cooking time and more enjoying time. For easy grilling tips and recipes, check out the website Fired Up by Kingsford.

If you don’t have access to an outdoor grill, there are simple techniques for reducing heat and energy use while cooking in your home. First, make sure all your cooking appliances are clean and operating properly. Ovens, microwaves and range tops are the most efficient at conducting heat when they are clear of debris and build-up. Also, if you’re using gas appliances, double-check the flame color for efficient burning. Remember, blue flames mean maximum combustion while yellow flames may mean that service is needed, according to ENERGY STAR.

Beyond appliance function, using the right-size pots on stove burners can make a difference in cooking time and energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR explains that using a 6-inch pot on an 8-inch burner wastes more than 40 percent of the burner’s heat. Also keeping a lid on pots and pans helps to speed up the cooking process, which, in turn, uses less energy.

Other cooking methods that reduce energy usage and heat in the kitchen, are pressure cookers, crock pots and microwaves. Pressure cookers quickly build up steam and pressure to cook foods, while crock pots use steady low heat to simmer and cook food over the course of several hours. And, of course, microwaves offer quick, concentrated heat with speedy cooking times and reduced kitchen heat.

Quick links, tips and recipes:

  • Presto, a pressure cooker manufacturer, offers an easy-to-follow pressure cooker tutorial and recipes on its website. Additionally, most online recipe websites feature pressure cooker recipes, which can be sorted by ingredients and cooking method — Allrecipes and Food.com both offer a variety.
  • Crock-Pot, one of the original makers of crock pots, has recipes, hints and tips for successful crock pot cooking on its website. Also, most recipes that require slow cooking a protein, whether in a Dutch oven on the range or in the oven, can be adapted to crock pot.
  • Microwave cooking is probably the most convenient cooking method for anyone on the go, and you can still make healthy meals, not just the pre-packaged freezer meals. MicrowaveRecipe.net and MealsForYou.com both offer a variety of microwave meals, sides and desserts, including microwave basics like baked potatoes, corn on the cob and asparagus.

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