The kitchen is a great place to find behaviours that waste, or can save, energy, mostly just by doing things a little bit differently. Individually the changes won’t make a big difference, but taken together they can make quite an impact. What the Sky Cycling Team call the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’.
Here are some tips to help you find ways to save energy in your kitchen.
Washing and drying clothes
• Use cool water washing powders and low temperature washes.
• If you pre-wash or rinse, use cold water.
• In dry weather, above freezing, prefer to dry things outside on a clothes line or an airer, rather than in a tumble drier. On a breezy day this happens remarkably quickly.
Fridges and freezers
• Make these your fridge and freezer habits: (1) try to decide what you want before opening the door, (2) have the door open for as short a time as you can, and (3) check that it is properly closed.
• NEVER put hot or even warm food into your fridge or freezer. Even worse than the energy this wastes, it also puts people’s health at risk. Until the food cools it warms up everything around it, including bacteria that you really don’t want to be active. Let cooked food stand, covered, until it gets down to room temperature.
• You need to defrost before frost builds to 5 mm / ¼ inch thick.
• Ensure good ventilation to the backs of fridges and freezers.
• Set fridge to 4-5C and set freezer to between -15 and -18C
• Plan ahead to thaw frozen food. Best done in the fridge; worst in the microwave. Somewhat quicker than the fridge is a bowl or box, and quicker still if this can be carefully floated in any leftover warm water, without wetting the food in it.
• If your freezer or fridge is not usually full you can fill the empty space with blocks of polystyrene or carrier bags. This reduces the amount of cold air that you lose whenever you open the door. Learn what combination of large and small things is best for the way you use space.
Cooking food (recipe permitting)
• Use microwave in preference to oven.
• An induction hob is more efficient than gas or other electric hobs.
• For the right kinds of meal, a slow cooker is more efficient than an oven or the average hob. And it makes tasty food!
• Cover pans when cooking
• Don’t cook at a raging boil; cut food into smaller pieces.
• Only heat the amount of water that you need. (Tip your coffee cup full of water into an empty kettle then boil the perfect amount of water).
• For a single cup of hot (not boiling) water or instant coffee, a microwave is more efficient than a kettle with a minimum fill level. It also makes nicer coffee, in my opinion. For more cups and for tea, a kettle is better.
• Use a washing up bowl or a plug. Do NOT wash up under running water.
• Teach yourself how much of the initial runoff you may use to cool water that is too hot from the tap.
- Fill the dishwasher and use short cycles.
Every little helps
In general, if there is a choice, consider doing things by hand rather than with a machine.