How to become an energy-efficient kitchen hero

Cooking at home doesn’t have to use a lot of energy if you follow a few simple tips 

With more people cooking at home we're turning into a nation of Masterchefs. From preparation, cooking and cleaning up, we're spending more time in the kitchen. As a result, it's not just more time we're spending in the kitchen, but also energy. Here's a quick guide to some small changes you can make to help reduce your energy usage and bills... 

The oven 

The oven is one of the most expensive appliances in the home to run – using an electric oven can cost around 2kWhs (approx. €0.40) per hour of cooking. A fan-assisted oven is more efficient than a conventional oven as it uses a fan to circulate heat around food as it cooks.  

There are some simple measures you can take to reduce energy costs: 

  • You can lose about 20% of heat when you open the oven door so don’t do it unless you have to. The oven will have to reheat itself and that will require more energy. Keep the oven door clean so you can look in.  

  • Keep your oven clean to reduce cooking time (Clean once a month if the oven is used regularly). 

  • Replace door seals if they are worn or damaged as this can decrease the efficiency of your oven.  

  • Get the best use out of your energy – cook as much as possible in one go by using the shelves. 

  • Alternatively, you can consider using a slow cooker. Modern slow cookers consume as little as 150 watts per hour at a low setting. That’s less than €0.07 per hour of cooking.  

The hob  

You can also reduce costs when using your hob: 

  • Use the right size pot for what you are cooking. There is no need to use the big pot for a small amount of food, it will just take longer to heat up.  

  • Use lids on pots as they contain the heat and speed up the cooking process.  

  • Use only as much water as needed to cover the food you’re cooking. Even better – boil the water in your kettle before using it for cooking. This will speed up cooking time.  

  • Use pots and pans that cover the whole of the size of the ring – using a ring that’s too big for the pot wastes energy, while a pot that is too big for a small ring will take longer to heat.  

  • Turn off the rings when the food is almost cooked and use the residual heat to finish cooking. 

  • Appliances such as double steamers allow you to layer up on vegetables, saving money and time. 

Microwaves  

Microwave ovens are energy-efficient cooking appliances. It is better to use a microwave for smaller meals instead of your oven or stove. Microwave ovens may be efficient for defrosting, but it is far better let frozen food defrost in the fridge – which might take longer but requires no extra energy at all.   

Kettles and Toasters 

When using the kettle, only boil as much water as you need, so if you’re making a quick cuppa, you don’t have to fill the kettle to the top. And if you’re making toast, use the toaster rather than toasting under the grill. 

Fridges and Freezers 

Remember to defrost your fridge and freezer at least once every six months to ensure it runs efficiently. There should be less than 5mm of frost build up. When putting food into or taking it out of the fridge, don’t leave the door open for long periods as the fridge has to work harder to return to its cool temperature.  

Cleaning up  

The part that nobody likes! But if you’re using a dishwasher, make sure it’s full before turning it on. On average, a dishwasher uses 1.2kWh per hour (approx €0.24c) regardless of what is in it so make sure it is full before you switch it on and reduce the number of times it is used.