Love it or loathe it, cooking is a pretty necessary part of life, and even the most ardent takeaway fans or lovers of fine dining will find themselves in the kitchen at some point. But the costs involved in whipping up a bite to eat extend further than the ingredients bought from the shop – ovens, microwaves and all those handy gadgets that promise to make life easier consume energy.
In fact, between 4% and a whopping 30% of the average gas and electricity bill is down to cooking alone! The scale of which depends of your cooking practices. Follow these top tips to make sure you’re not needlessly wasting energy (and money!) as you go about your culinary creations.
Microwaves are the most energy-efficient means of cooking, followed by slow cookers, hobs, and lastly ovens, so use your microwave as much as possible – and remember to turn it off at the wall after use to conserve even more energy (nobody uses them as a clock anyway!)
Cooking in a microwave for 10 minutes a day will cost about £3 per year
Cooking in a slower cooker for 8 hours a day will cost about £14 per year
Cooking on an electric hob for 30 minutes a day will cost about £90 per year
Covering pots and pans helps to trap heat, so you can cook things quicker, or achieve the same level of boiling or frying without having the hob turned up so high. This can save about 3% in energy costs, per pan.
There’s no point boiling a small handful of new potatoes in a massive pot – you’ll just be wasting energy trying to heat up all the excess water. Also, make sure the pan you do use is on the correct hob. If you can see any hob area peeking out from underneath you’re just losing energy.
Every time you open the door the oven loses all its heat, so it has to work harder to get back up to the right temperature again. Keep your oven door clean and you should be able to spy on your food without having to open it.
Cook as much food in one go as possible – there’s no point having the oven on for an hour to cook two dishes separately when they could go in together for 30 minutes! This is especially useful if you’re cooking a big meal, or you share a kitchen with others.
Try to avoid defrosting food in the microwave, and instead put it in the fridge overnight, or first thing in the morning. This can halve its cooking time.
Any bits of burnt food or grease simply absorb heat – especially on electric cookers – making them less efficient.
Glass and ceramic dishes are best for use in the oven, while copper-bottomed pans heat up much quicker than stainless steel ones. Cast-iron pans are good for retaining heat, too, so you won’t need the hobs turned up so high.
Or just pop a metal colander over the top of something that’s already on the boil and use that instead (remember the lid!) – this saves using an additional hob and results in super tasty, super healthy veggies (which haven’t lost water-soluble vitamins to the boiling water).
A decent oven will retain the required temperature for up to ten minutes after you switch it off – so that’s ten minutes of energy you could save without compromising on your dinner’s needs.
Savings calculations are based on electricity costing 15p per kWh.
All the facts in this article were sourced by our partner, the Centre for Sustainable Energy. If you’d like more free impartial advice on anything from tips on energy efficiency and renewable energy to how to apply for grants and financial support just give us a call on 0800 408 6601 (mobile 0117 934 1999) to speak with an energy efficiency expert or you can email us.
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1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount. All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas). All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
3Pay Monthly Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYM OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
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33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.
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