You don't necessarily need to invest in a new oven to improve the energy efficiency of your kitchen — here are more than a dozen simple tips to be a more conscious cook.
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Being more mindful of the way you cook, what you use to cook, and investing in a few inexpensive appliances can reduce the amount of energy you use and cut your energy bills in the process. Here are 20 tips to get you started.
Top tips for energy efficient cooking
- The microwave is the most efficient way to heat up and cook food. Opt for this appliance whenever possible.
- Use the kettle to boil water quickly (only what you need), and transfer to a pan on the hob for steaming and boiling your veg of choice.
- Slow cookers can also be an energy-efficient option - they use just a little more energy than a traditional light bulb, and you can leave your food to cook slowly while you get on with other things.
- Cook in batches. Cook as much as possible in the oven in one go to make sure all the space and heat is being used. You can always freeze portions of food to warm up at a later date.
- Keep the oven closed while you're cooking. Each time you open the door the oven loses heat and requires more energy to get back up to temperature. Also, try to keep the oven door clean so you can look in, rather than having to open it to see how your food is doing.
- Defrost frozen food in the fridge overnight. Defrosting food in advance typically halves the cooking time.
- Get to know your oven by learning how long it takes to pre-heat, so you're ready to start cooking as soon as it's up to temperature.
- Pre-boil potatoes before roasting to reduce the amount of time they take to cook in the oven.
- Use glass or ceramic dishes in the oven. They're the most efficient to use in the oven and can reduce the temperature required for cooking.
- Insert stainless steel skewers into baked potatoes and joints of meat to speed up the cooking process (or just cook those potatoes in the microwave).
- Cut food into smaller pieces so it will cook more quickly. Using this method on meat also means you'll avoid overcooking it.
- Use the fan assist cooking option and set the oven at a lower temperature.
- Turn your electric oven off 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time. It will still keep to the same temperature for this time period.
- Always use the right size of pan for the amount of food you are cooking. Save stew pots for larger meals.
- Put just enough waterin the pan to cover vegetables.
- Choose the right size of burner or ring for the size pan you have. A bigger burner will waste energy and a too-big pan will take longer to get to temperature.
- Unless the instructions call for it, always put lids on pans to keep the heat in.
- Turn down the ring or burner once the cooking temperature or state is reached; most dishes need to simmer, not boil.
- Use a double steamer to cook vegetables so you can layer a number of vegetables on top of each other and still use one ring.
- Use a pressure cooker for beans, meats, whole meals or stews. It speeds up the cooking process.
- If you're using an electric hob, choose flat-bottomed pans so the pan is in full contact with the ring.
- Certain pan types are better at conducting and retaining heat: copper-bottomed pans heat up more quickly than stainless steel and cast-iron pans retain heat more efficiently, so you won't need the heat to be turned up so high.
- Keep rings clean, as burnt foodstuff absorbs heat making an electric ring less efficient.
Do I need a new oven or hob for energy efficient cooking?
Having a cooker that's in good working order is essential for energy-efficient cooking; it will help lower your fuel consumption and keep your gas and electricity bills down.
While it's true that it's worth waiting to buy a new appliance until the old one has stopped working - due to the energy used in the manufacture of the new appliance - it's worth considering a replacement if the existing appliance is over ten years old.It's definitely worth replacing if the appliance is faulty, for example, if your oven thermostat or fan has failed.
It's also worth checking that the door of your oven is properly sealed, because the amount of heat that leaks out during cooking has a big impact on the energy efficiency and energy consumption of an oven.
If you decide that you need a new oven and opt for an electric model, then it's important to choose an oven that is energy-efficient, as well as having triple glazing on the oven door and good insulation.
The energy label will tell you how energy-efficient an appliance is. One that's A-rated is the most energy-efficient and can reduce long-term running costs. The most efficient appliances will also carry the Energy Saving Recommended badge, which is awarded by the Energy Saving Trust.
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