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How to save energy when cooking

Pouring Rice Into Saucepan Of Bubbling Water

Cooking and meal preparation is an essential part of our day-to-day routine. While during the summer months, we might tend to cook less and prefer refreshing cold meals, autumn brings different eating habits, as we welcome slow-cooked stews, hearty roasts, and warming soups.

However, as we enjoy the cosiness around the dining table, it’s important to remain mindful of how much energy we use while preparing our daily meals, making sure to keep our utility bills at their minimum.

In this blog, we’ll delve into energy-efficient cooking methods and explore some practical tips on how to save energy in the kitchen.

1. Use the right cookware to save energy

Whether you’re a passionate cook, or only follow the basics, using the right cookware is essential when it comes to energy-efficient cooking. These are some of the tips to follow when choosing the correct cookware:

Match cookware to burner size

When cooking on hobs, it’s important to use pots and pans that match the size of a burner, or other heating element. Using cookware that's too large for the burner wastes energy because heat escapes around the sides of the cookware. On the contrary, using small pots and pans on large burners is also inefficient as a significant portion of the burner's heat is lost. Using large burners on small pieces of hardware also poses a risk of heating areas of the pots/pans that should not be heated e.g., handles.

Saucepan With Lid Sitting On Gas Hob

Consider cookware material

The material of your cookware can affect its energy efficiency and in the long term, impact your monthly energy bills. So, whether you prefer to cook on aluminium, stainless steel or cast iron surface, make sure you check the material’s ability to preserve the heat throughout the entire cooking time.

Food Cooking In A Frying Pan

2. Cover pots and pans with lids

Using lids on your pots and pans is an important energy-saving practice. Essentially, when you cover the pot while cooking, you trap the heat, speed up the cooking process and reduce the energy consumption.

By using the lids, you can lower the heat setting on your hob or reduce the oven temperature while still achieving the same cooking results. Alongside the energy savings, this simple practice can also help you achieve better taste results, keeping all the ingredients in the pot moist and flavourful. If you need to thicken sauces or reduce the moisture in your meal, taking the lid off just for the last few minutes of cooking can help you get the best of both worlds.

3. Opt for energy-efficient cooking methods

Choosing energy-efficient cooking methods is crucial when trying to reduce your costs and monthly utility bills.

When looking to reduce energy consumption in the kitchen, it’s important to remember that longer cooking time doesn’t necessarily mean higher energy costs. In many cases, using slower, energy-efficient cooking methods or appliances can actually result in lower overall energy usage and equally delicious meals.

However, it’s also important to consider that the efficiency of different cooking methods can vary, depending on the type of ingredients you’re using or the size of the portion you’re cooking.

Some of the methods with lower energy requirements include:

  • Pressure cooking
  • Slow cooking
  • Steaming
  • Air-frying
  • Microwave cooking

4. Optimise oven use

Whether you’re a passionate cook, or only follow the basics, using the right cookware is essential when it comes to energy-efficient cooking. These are some of the tips to follow when choosing the correct cookware:

Using Cooker Dials

Ovens are versatile appliances, handling a range of cooking methods including roasting, slow-cooking or grilling. However, with high temperatures and longer cooking times, the oven can be one of the most energy-intensive machines used in the household.

These are some of the most common strategies to keep the energy consumption of your oven at its lowest:

  • Don’t preheat the oven longer than necessary
  • Avoid frequent peeking by opening the oven door, as you let out a significant amount of heat each time, which will mean you’ll need to cook for longer
  • Use convection settings to allow the air circulation if your oven has that feature
  • Track the cooking time to minimise the risk of burning and energy waste
  • Use oven proof ceramic or glass dishes to retain the heat
  • Cook multiple dishes at the same time to increase efficiency.

5. Use a microwave for reheating

Using a microwave is not only convenient but also more energy efficient than using the main oven, especially when it comes to reheating smaller portions of food. By producing electromagnetic radiation, microwaves can heat a portion of food quickly and evenly, keeping it moist and preventing the food from drying out.

While using a microwave might seem like an easy kitchen task, it’s important to follow a set of simple instructions to stay safe and improve efficiency.

  • Make sure you heat the food in microwave-safe containers or tableware
  • When heating larger or denser dishes, give them a good stir halfway through the reheating process to ensure consistent results
  • Sprinkle the food with a small amount of water before placing it in the microwave, especially when heating bread, rolls, or pizza
  • Adjust the power levels on your microwave to use the appropriate time and amount of heat.

6. Boil water efficiently

Boiling water is one of the simplest tasks in the kitchen, however, using an efficient cooking method can save you a lot of time, energy, and money.

  • Whether you put on the kettle to make a cup of tea, or boil water for pasta, remember to only use the minimum amount of water you need, as long as it’s above the minimum level that the kettle needs
  • Always use the lid to trap the heat and accelerate the process
  • Reuse the boiled water once cooled down, for example for watering plants around the house
  • Regularly descale your kettle to remove mineral build-up and prolong the appliance’s lifespan.

7. Plan and batch cook to save time and energy

Writing A Meal Plan

In today’s fast-paced world, meal planning and efficient cooking have become more than necessary, serving not only as time and energy savers but also as key tools to maintain healthy and well-balanced eating habits.

There’s a range of benefits to batch cooking and meal planning, including:

Savings on energy bill

One of the biggest benefits of batch cooking lies in its energy efficiency, allowing you to make optimal use of your kitchen appliances. For instance, when roasting vegetables, it makes sense to roast a substantial batch all at once, and then refrigerating or freezing what you don’t need straight away to save it for another day, rather than cooking separately for each meal.

Better time management

Meal planning saves time in the long run. When you've planned your meals in advance, you can shop efficiently and minimise daily decision-making about what to cook.

Reducing food waste and grocery bills

By planning your meals, you can use up the ingredients that are close to their expiration date or vegetables that might otherwise go unused. As you know what you need to buy for every meal when you go shopping, you’re less likely to buy things that you won’t use, which can also help you to save money.

Variety and convenience

Batch cooking doesn't mean eating the same thing every day. You can prepare a variety of dishes in larger quantities and then mix and match them to create diverse meals throughout the week. Freezing portions after they have cooked and cooled means you can prepare meals that you’ll have days or even weeks into the future too, which just need defrosting and reheating when you want them. 

8. Use energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen

And finally, using the right appliances in our kitchen will help you take another step closer to a more energy-efficient, more sustainable household.

From fridges and cookware to kettles and dishwashers, investing in more energy-efficient appliances not only reduces your energy consumption but also contributes to a greener environment.

When purchasing new white goods for your kitchen or replacing appliances and cookware that have seen better days, make sure to look for appliances with higher Energy Star ratings or other energy-efficient certifications. These products usually come with advanced features to optimise your energy use while still allowing you to enjoy the pleasures of delicious home-cooked meals.