Talking Turkey: Find Ways to Cut Back on Energy Use in the Kitchen This Thanksgiving

It doesn’t just zap a lot of your energy to make a massive Thanksgiving feast for your tribe. Between pots boiling on the burners, turkey baking in the oven, last-minute warm-ups in the microwave and your electric mixer mixing away, your kitchen could easily be the biggest energy hog in the neighborhood.

 Kitchens, outfitted with their many appliances, usually demand more energy than any other part of your home anyway. But big cooking expeditions, like the one you’re likely to embark upon for Thanksgiving, can create major energy spikes on your bill. We have a few tips that will help you keep your energy bill at a level that will still allow you to be thankful for big Thanksgiving feasts.

 Check your appliances

You’re probably not going to run out and buy new Energy Star appliances between now and turkey day. However, you should make sure your oven and refrigerator are clean inside and outside. Gunk on the elements or an overstuffed and gummy refrigerator can make those important appliances less efficient. Of course, if your appliances are old and you have the dough, investing in new energy-efficient ones could save you significantly on your energy bill in the long run.

 Boil with care

Boiling water seems like such a simple thing, but there are actually several tricks to boiling water in an energy-efficient way. If you add them all up, they could save you a pretty penny — more if you apply these principles all the time.

Use only what you need – Don’t overfill your pot because it will take longer and require more energy to bring the water to a boil.
Turn it off – When your dish is nearly ready, turn the burner off. The water will remain hot and continue cooking your food even though you’re not using any more energy.
 • Cover it up – Always cover your pots. It traps the heat inside so the water boils sooner and the energy doesn’t escape out the top as you’re cooking.
Size it up – Don’t put small pots on big burners. The energy required to heat a bigger burner is wasted when the pot doesn’t cover the full surface area.

Oven smart

Your oven is another appliance that gobbles up the energy. Use these tricks to keep your oven from overheating your utility bill.         

• Turn it off – Just like the burners, you can turn your oven off before you’re ready to take items out. The inside of the oven will stay warm long after the heating element stops using energy.
Use glass or ceramic dishes – The way those materials conduct heat will allow you to turn the oven down by up to 25 degrees.
• Nuke it instead – If you’re just reheating something, don’t fire up your oven. Microwave leftovers or pop them into a toaster oven.

Other kitchen pointers

While the oven and stove can be the biggest energy bandits in the kitchen, they’re not the only ones.

• Defrost in the refrigerator or cold water – Instead of defrosting frozen items in the microwave or oven, put them in the refrigerator the day before you will need them or a bowl of cold water an hour or so before it’s time to get cooking.
• If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen – When the weather cooperates, try taking your cooking outdoors to a grill.
Light it up – Of course, you don’t want to go around flipping the lights off in the kitchen. Cooking in the dark is inadvisable. But swapping out incandescent bulbs for energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs can save you big in one of the rooms of your house where lights tend to get the most use.

Having a nice, warm kitchen where you can prepare a great meal is something to be thankful for. Making it as energy efficient as possible and changing your habits will give you something to be grateful about when the utility bill comes in December.

Contact the Energy Resource Center if you want any help making your Colorado home more energy efficient this winter. We provide free home energy audits and weatherization improvements for income-qualified families in El Paso, Teller, Fremont, Elbert, Douglas, Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Saguache and Rio Grande counties.