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Many people are in fuel poverty this winter, likely reaching into the millions, of whom, many have never struggled for their energy bills in the past. I’ve been a member of a wee group for a while now, and it’s one that helps people who are struggling with their bills, and gives advice to help them bridge the current gap.
The biggest problem is that there are literally unending amounts of people who have never faced debt before, but energy costs are fast putting them into situations where they might never have been. I’m not going to get drawn into the political rant, no matter how much I’d like to, but instead, I am going to focus on ways to help us save money on our daily life.
10 Ways To Save Energy in the Kitchen
1 – Preparation of Cooking Methods
Take the time to look at how you prepare and cook your food. There’s no point having loads of gadgets and small appliances languishing on your counters unused, or shoved in a cupboard and out of sight. Our ovens use a lot of energy, and some of your small gadgets could easily save you money if you look at the wattage used to run them and compare it with your oven.
2 – Work Out How Much Money Your Appliances Cost to Run
As an example, my slow cooker is 300w. That means it uses 300 watts of electrical energy per hour to run. My slow cooker is also a 6 litre large capacity one, and yours might use half of the energy that my cooker does per hour.
My oven is rated at around 2 kw per hour, for each oven. I have two. That means each oven uses approximately 2000 watts per hour. Ovens can use up to 5000 watts per hour, so make sure you check your own appliance ratings and do your own calculations.
At the moment, electricity is about 34p per unit of electric Jan 2023.
I tend to use my slow cooker on high for 4 hours = 1200 watts, or 1.2 kwh of electric, which is 1.2 units.
– Slow Cooker 4 Hours 300w = 1.2 Units at 34p = 41p
– Single Oven 4 Hours 2000w = 8 Units at 34p = £2.72
This comparison isn’t comparing apples with apples however, as using an oven is unlikely to take 4 hours, unless slow cooking on low heat.
My Calculation For Chips in the Air Fryer or Oven
34p/60 mins = 0.0057p per minute = 1000 watts
– Air Fryer (Large) = 1500 watts for 25 minutes = 25 mins x (1.50 x 0.0057p) = 21.4p
– Oven (2000w) = 2000 watts for 25 minutes = 25 mins x (2 x 0.0057p) = 28.5p
For me, using the Airfryer is 7p cheaper than my oven, to cook a batch of chips. Given my teenagers sometimes cook 3 or 4 times a day, with a pie here or a portion of chips there, the airfryer is cheaper.
3 Cook Efficiently
One way to help save money at home is to look at our cooking choices. As a house, we’ve used air fryers for years, so it’s nice to see them get so much publicity at the moment, allowing us to make some savings. Choose your gadgets wisely.
Do the calculations for each of your appliances, and then choose the most efficient appliance for you. I have family who don’t use a microwave to reheat leftovers, and the oven is regularly on for long periods of time. I don’t have the luxury of wasting energy, and over the years, I’ve build up a good stock of countertop appliances that I can use.
Oven v My Appliances
– I use my oven when I am cooking large batches or big dishes.
– The microwave is mainly used for reheating.
– Slow cooker for cooking cheaper cuts of meat and casserole type dishes.
– Pressure cooker for making baked potatoes.
– Pan on the gas hob for large pans of soup.
– Soupmaker for small batch of soup, up to 4 people.
4 Clean Appliances & Change Pan Usage
Dirt can build up around a gas burner or an electric hob. As well as wasting heat if you are using the wrong size pan for a dish you are making, the dirt build up can also make the cooking less efficient. If you are using a smaller pan, use a smaller burner if possible on gas, and you will be less likely to have inefficient cooking and food/heat wastage through spillage or heat distribution to the room.
Using lids while cooking on the hob or stove, helps to keep heat in, and uses less energy to cook food.
5 Use Timers For Cooking
This one might be a little like the old saying ‘trying to teach your granny to suck eggs.’ That might no mean much to you as a saying, in the way it does for me, but it simply means ‘stating the obvious.’ No matter which appliance we use, many of us are guilty of cooking for too long. My kids always made fun of me for how I can cook a full meal perfectly, but stick oven chips or pizza in the oven, and I forget about them and burn the food, as well as waste energy.
I’ve been making use of the timer function on my phone, and I no longer burn the junk food. I’m sure the boys will be happy with that, but they have now also learned to set their phone timers too, so we also no longer waste cooking energy.
6 Food Preparation & Meal Planning
Keeping cooking time down is quite important now, as cooking from frozen can use up a lot of unnecessary energy, that we could be better spent on heat in the cold weather. Defrosting food before use might save a few pence, as will planning your meals and knowing which ingredients you will need, and how you will use them. Many frozen items can be defrosted in the fridge overnight, just read the instructions to find out which ones are usable.
7 Batch Cooking
Batch cooking is sensible if you have the budget for buying larger quantities of ingredients than usual, as making meals this way means that a simple reheat is all that is needed for many items. If buying ingredients more in bulk, but if full batch cooking isn’t an option, you can take the time to work this differently. When I make meals nowadays, even soup, I make enough to also pop a couple of portions into the freezer for the boys to eat later. It’s just one or two extra portions with each cooking session, but it quickly adds up to food for later.
I have family and friends who won’t eat second day food. I think they’ve lost their minds, and one or two are on benefits and still won’t eat refrigerated leftovers. To me, that’s nuts. Bonkers. I can understand it if someone does not have a fridge, but throwing away perfectly good food that can eaten later makes my brain fry.
Simply reheat the leftovers in your microwave, ensuring they are nice and hot to eat
9 Storage, Best Before and Use By
There is easily accessible information on the internet, to know what is safe and what is not safe to eat. Almost everyone has a mini computer in their pocket, and can look up the fridge temperatures to be economical and keep food safe, while also not wasting energy.
Personally, I increased my fridge from 4C to 5C, and reduced my freezer from -20C to -18C. I am not recommending you change your settings to match mine, so research it for yourself and check you are not throwing money away when you don’t need to.
Know the difference between best before and use by, to ensure you get the best out of the products you buy for food and drinks.
10 Mindset Changes
Many of the ways to reduce energy usage while cooking needs a change of attitude and approach to making meals and being kitchen efficient.
One pot meals are easy and simple to make, saving cooking and heating times. For me, my baked tatties done in my pressure cooker are far cheaper than cooking them in the oven.
Planning ahead can mean you have the correct ingredients for when you need them. Even if I only save 7p on each air fryer cook session, it could easily save me about £50 a year. I know it doesn’t sound much, but that is just one single gadget saving. We do have to offset that against how much the gadget costs to buy, so don’t forget to factor that into your calculations.