As temperatures increase this summer, cooking adds heat to the kitchen and, as a result, the entire house. Don’t worry — you won’t have to forgo using your oven or eat only sandwiches and other cold foods. Read on for practical and creative tips on how to save energy — and money — in the kitchen this summer.
No one wants to walk in from a 100-degree day to a kitchen oven warming a day-long roast; save comfort foods for the cold winter months. While ovens are designed to only heat food, not distribute heat to a room, they can cause you to feel hotter, especially when you open the oven door to check on your food. During the summer, make your cooking more energy efficient with these tips from the Department of Energy:
- Limit oven preheating or long cooking times: Make sure you aren’t leaving your oven on longer than necessary. Not all foods require full pre-heating; just keep an eye on the food for under- or over-cooking. Bake dishes that need less time.
- Not opening the oven repeatedly to check progress: Use oven lights, a meat thermometer, and a timer. Opening the door reduces the oven’s efficiency and releases heat into the kitchen.
- Check your oven seal: Keeping the seal clean is one way to ensure the heat stays inside the oven instead of seeping out into your house. Use a degreaser to gently clean on and around the oven door seal.
- Use other cooking methods: Utilize an instant pot, crockpot, microwave, or air fryer, which use less energy and heat than an oven. Get outside and grill, heat on a cooking grate, or roast meats and vegetables over your fire pit.
- Get creative: Challenge yourself to eat “cold-food dinners” with these 33 Easy Summer Dinners from Southern Living or these 50 Cold Foods for Hot Weather Days from Taste of Home. (FYI: some require cooking prep work.) You’ll be happy you planned ahead when you pull a quick dinner out of the refrigerator. Of course, you can always get takeout and picnic at a local park!
Refrigerators can be sneaky energy-users; remember these tips as you’re cooking and storing foods during the summer months.
- Let leftovers cool before you put them in the fridge: Hot foods make your refrigerator work harder to cool.
- Cover leftovers: If you leave food uncovered, it releases moisture into the air, which in turn makes your refrigerator’s air compressor work harder.
- Don’t overcrowd: While a full fridge is more efficient than an empty one (as warm air circulates more when it’s empty), overstuffing it can block vents and inhibit air flow. Experts say ¾ full is ideal, to allow unhindered air circulation and food to properly absorb the cold.
- Don’t constantly open the fridge door: It’s almost summer, so that means your teenagers will be milling around the kitchen looking for snacks and drinks. Standing with the refrigerator door open causes it to lose heat and work less efficiently. Remind them — and yourself — to get what you need all at once without lingering with the refrigerator door open.
- Keep your refrigerator in good shape: For efficiency’s sake, ensure your fridge coils are dust-free by vacuuming every three months, and make sure it’s moved a few inches from the wall to allow air to circulate. Check the door seals to make sure they are intact to keep cool air in. Read more of Payless Power’s Kitchen Electricity Tips.
More Summer Kitchen Tips
As you’re prepping delicious summer fruits and vegetables, you can help yourself and your energy bill by utilizing these additional smart summer kitchen ideas:
- Use a fan: A ceiling fan or plug-in fan will help cool your skin; there’s no need to run the fan while you’re out of the room, however. On days you aren’t relying solely on the A/C and the air outside is more comfortable, whole-house fans help pull in air from the outside and exhaust it out the roof and attic.
- Lighting use: Either cook with the lights off or make sure you have energy-efficient lightbulbs that don’t emanate extra heat.
- Plan ahead: If you’re defrosting meat, set it in the fridge the night before or in the sink the day you plan to use it. Don’t defrost in the microwave. If you’re grilling or cooking outside, make sure you have all supplies necessary (propane, charcoal, firewood) to keep from using energy running to and from the store.
Saving energy in the kitchen this summer is easy with these small, deliberate actions. To save even more, consider a prepaid, no-deposit electricity plan from Payless Power with low rates and great customer service for residents across Texas.