The ultimate guide to saving on energy bills when cooking
Being more energy efficient in your kitchen can be one of the most important ways to save money. And, let’s face it, there’s never been a more important time to be energy efficient around your home. As energy bills continue to soar, there may never have been a more pressing time to start thinking about ways you can cut the pounds off your annual energy bill.
So the kitchen area, being one of the most intense area when it comes to appliances using energy, is certainly somewhere you should be paying attention. Saving money on your energy bills isn’t just to do with buying an all new set of energy efficient appliances; it’s also about modifying your behaviours when it comes to cooking, too.
Energy efficient appliances
There’s no doubt that switching to energy efficient appliances is the easy way to get those energy bills down. While this may come at a short-term cost, the long-term savings can be worth it – especially if you have the money now to make the change. As energy bills are only going to go up, having efficient appliances now can really help drive down those monthly bills.
When it comes to cooking, there are a number of appliances we use. These includes:
- Slow cookers
While you’re not really going to make much of a saving by switching out your toaster for a newer model, you can certainly make great savings when you think about how you use these devices.
Aside from possibly the microwave, the most commonly used kitchen appliance when it comes to cooking is the oven. While there is little difference between using a grill and oven cooking when it comes to energy consumption, it can help to track your oven’s hourly usage.
They generally have a power rating of 2,000 to 2,200 watts per hour (or 2.0 to 2.2kWh) when running the oven at medium-to-high heats. You can calculate, based on your energy rates, how much that is going to cost you to run. Additionally, when it comes to ovens, you’re going to want an A rated or A+ rated appliance. The latter is the highest efficient rating using the post-Brexit UK rating system; the former is the EU pre-Brexit rating system (appliances released before March 2021).
When it comes to hobs, you can save money by making the move to induction hobs. They are faster to get to heat than typical electric hobs but the drawback is that they require the use of pans made of iron and they can also have health implications (they should not be used by those with a pacemaker due to the electromagnetic field they create).
When it comes to induction versus gas, induction hobs are more energy efficient than gas hobs. They use approximately 57% less energy than gas hobs. Of course, this isn’t quite 57% less on your bills as both gas and electric prices can vary.
When it comes to energy efficiency, the microwave is amongst the most efficient appliances to use and should be favoured over oven cooking and hobs when possible. However, it only has limited use. Research by consumer watchdog USwitch has shown that microwaves cost about 21p per hour of use (as of 2021 – this has obviously changed with huge changes in energy price from 2022).
As you will, of course, not be using a microwave for an hour during the day, it would be unlikely that your microwave would cost any more than a pound to run per week – making it highly efficient for cooking.
These are very efficient as they can be rated as low as 200 watts which can be over ten times less energy usage than an oven. As of the 2021 rates, the average slow cooker burned energy equivalent to under 1p per hour of usage. So slow cookers can be efficient – particularly if used at the right time of the day.
The average kettle is boiled 1,500 times a year. There’s not much to trade between kettles – low wattage kettles take longer to boil, whereas higher water kettles consume more energy but do the job faster. However, kettles that boil rapidly and have advanced controls to adjust the heat and the time the kettle is on.
Only try to use the amount of water you need at any given time. Less water equals less time to reach boiling point. Additionally, the material of kettle can matter – with kettles using insulated materials able to keep water hotter for longer, reducing the amount of times you have to boil it.
20 energy efficient cooking tips
Now that you’ve found out a bit more about your individual cooking appliances, it’s time to divulge some of the tips that will help you cook with energy efficiency in mind.
1. Turn off your oven before the timer
A little known way to save quite a considerable amount on your energy bill (depending on the amount of times you use an oven) is to turn off the temperature on your electric oven up to ten minutes before the timer is up. Keep in mind that this requires the oven to have fully heated up to the maximum temperature (meaning don’t turn on the oven for 2 minutes and then let your food cook for 10 minutes – use your judgement!)
But if the oven has been properly pre-heated, the food should cook properly as the temperature won’t drop until approximately ten minutes after it has been switched off.
2. Know your pre-heat timings
Following on from the above, it’s therefore important to know how long your oven takes to pre-heat. This minimises the amount of time the oven is burning perfectly good energy while nothing is in the oven. Set a timer for the pre-heat cycle to keep yourself right.
3. Use as much oven space as possible
Another way to conserve energy is cook everything at the same time in the oven. Using up as much space as possible saves on energy. This can be particularly helpful if you’re batch cooking or if you make and pre-cook your lunch at the same time (you can always use the cheaper microwave to heat them – especially if it’s the work microwave!)
4. Go fan-assisted/convection
When it comes to ovens, convection or fan-assisted is the way. This is because it carries the air around the food as it cooks and is a far more energy efficient way of cooking with an oven. The heat doesn’t have to be as high than as with a conventional oven which is why you’ll often see two temperature settings on food packaging. The lower temperature/time is for convection; the higher temperature/time is for conventional. Less time and/or temperature means less energy used.
5. Close the oven door faster!
When you open the oven door, often to peer at your baking efforts, the oven can lose 10% to 20% of the temperature. This means it needs to use more energy to get it back up to the correct temperature. Settle for staring through the glass and minimise any checks – that apple crumble is probably okay!
6. Use the right materials
Despite the variety of metal baking trays available, metal doesn’t conduct heat as well as the likes of glass and ceramic. When using these dishes, you can set the heat lower than whatever instructions you are given because the latter options are good at retaining heat and, therefore, saving you on energy once again.
7. Don’t boil water you don’t need
There’s a tendency to fill up a kettle to the maximum and then leave the water in there for the rest of the day’s tea, coffee or hot chocolate consumption. However, this means you are going to be constantly boiling water you don’t need. The same applies for when you are cooking on the hob. Only use what you need. This can, additionally, save money on your water bill – which is particularly important if you’re on a meter.
8. Boil your roasties first
A simple one but if you boil your roasties first in water, you won’t need to have them in the oven for as long – saving you energy. It’s worth combining this with your tea or coffee-making efforts for maximum energy reduction.
9. Use the right pan and hob for the right job
The size of pan and hob you use can also affect energy usage. If you can do the job in a smaller pan, do it – maximise the surface as the bigger the pan, the more energy it requires to maintain the correct surface temperature. Additionally, the pan material can make a difference, too. Cast-iron and copper-bottom pans heat more efficiently and faster respectively than stainless steel.
Also, if you use too small a hob, you’ll have to burn more energy. So pick the right hob and pan combination to reduce energy wastage. Flat-bottom pans are also best with electric hob rings as that way the pan will have maximum contact with the heat and, thus, will heat faster and more evenly.
10. Boil in the kettle first
As your kettle is cheaper to run than your hob, boil the water you need for a recipe or dish in the kettle first and then transfer the boiled water to the pot and/or pan. That way you’re reducing the amount of time the hob is on.
11. Make full use of your microwave
The microwave can be the go to for ready meals but it can be useful for some oven dishes, too. Make full use of its efficiency whenever you can to reduce the money spent on your larger oven/cooker.
12. Defrost in advance
While the microwave is efficient, nothing beats using natural, free means to do a job an appliance can do. You can either defrost things from the freezer overnight in your refrigerator (which is already on anyway) or just on your worktop. This reduces the need to use the microwave (other than the odd time you forget to defrost).
13. Think pressure cooker
Similar to a slow cooker, a pressure cooker can also be an energy efficient as a way of making stews or cooking meats and beans than with a pan.
14. When boiler point is reached, turn it down
As soon as you have reached the boiling point, turn the hob right down. Keeping it on a higher level is a waste of energy when the right temperature has already been achieved and just needs to be maintained.
15. Clean your hob rings
Food that sticks to rings will absorb heat and make it a lot less energy efficient. Regularly clean them to maintain peak efficiency.
16. Use double steamers
This is a great way to cook two vegetables at once while only using one ring, saving on the energy from using two hob rings.
17. Skewer and dice your meats
An efficient way to cook baked potatoes or meat joints is to skewer them with stainless steel so they cook quickly and evenly thus speeding up the cooking process. This can also be bolstered by cutting them into little pieces so that they cook even quicker.
18. Close the heat in with a lid
We’re looking at you people who like to keep a constant eye on your food… a lid helps contain heat within a pot, thus allowing you to reduce your energy usage. However, this can impact certain recipes so be discerning when using a lid.
19. Regularly clean your oven
As we said before, food particles can capture heat and increase the time it takes to heat up a hob. The same applies in ovens. Additionally, cleaning the seals on your oven door can also ensure they don’t wear faster over time and allow heat to escape.
20. Opt for a toastie machine
Toastie machines are relatively cheap and can offer long-term savings. Plenty of us love a toastie but that’s a few minutes of heating up the grill and then a few minutes of using the grill. A toastie machine, on the other hand, is on for a couple of minutes and uses far less energy.
Maintain and repair your appliances properly
The last piece of advice we have is to make sure you are maintaining your heating appliances properly. When they are not operating at peak efficiency, they will require more energy to get the job done.
If you suspect an appliance has a problem, be sure to contact Repair Aid. Our customer service team will arrange for one of our qualified engineers to come out and assess the problem and give you a quote on any further repairers (if needed).
Or if you’re looking to change your kitchen appliances to something more energy efficient, we are also qualified installers of hobs, cookers, electric ovens and oven hoods. Making sure that appliances are installed correctly is key in getting the most out of an energy efficient appliance. Get in touch today on 020 7183 6944 so we can help you as soon as possible.