Happy New Year!

Following all that festive money-sucking fun (bah-humbug!), we are now looking at ways to tighten our belts a little, and the kitchen, with all its heating and cooling gadgets, is an excellent place to start.

You may be diligent when it comes to switching the lights off, but do you know how much it costs to run the average household dishwasher over a year, or how much energy could be saved if we unplugged our coffee machines and smoothies makers?

By being a little more energy savvy in your kitchen could mean you can stress less about your bills and more about where to book for that summer holiday!

Ahhhh the sunshine….

Ok, back to the point in hand!

We are on a mission to save money when it comes to our energy-usage, and have been thinking of the best short cuts in creating an energy savvy kitchen.

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.

According to the latest research 4.5% of a home’s energy use comes from cooking. Add in another 10% from energy associated with refrigeration, hot water heating and dishwashing and your kitchen consumes about 15% of your total energy use.

Changing the way we cook as well as using energy-efficient cooking appliances can reduce the amount of energy we use and cut energy bills in the process.

In the past decade, “green” kitchen appliances and equipment have gone from niche to mass market and the pressure is on manufacturers to develop even more sophisticated technologies.

Most consumers already know about the energy saving perks of the microwave oven in comparison to conventional ovens so it would be wrong of us to overlook the hidden depths of the microwave in terms of its cooking ability.

A good microwave can be used for more than just frozen meals, reheating leftovers, and defrosting chicken. In fact the ingenious gadget that has been around for over 70 years has a number of versatile functions that can be simple and creative, saving you time and money.

Did you know?

If you usually throw away old and hard lemons, STOP! Try popping them in the microwave for a few seconds instead and you will be amazed by the results; your lemons will instantly become soft and squeezable.

The microwave will also be your best ally when slicing onions without crying. Peel the onion, cut it into several pieces and place in microwave for 30 seconds, during which time the gases that make your eyes water should be released.

Creating an energy savvy kitchen

It’s not just the microwave that can make you more energy savvy in your kitchen.  We have seen a complete redevelopment in so many other kitchen appliances too. Dishwashers and combi ovens, fridges and hobs have all received radical design changes and approaches.

If you are planning a new kitchen this year, great. New appliances with energy-rated efficiency are the way forward. But there are also some simple steps you can take in increasing the energy efficiency of your kitchen. Here’s a few quick tips.

  • The fridge: Energy-guzzler number1! But there are ways to make your fridge more energy efficient. Keep it full but not packed so full that air fails to circulate properly. Even frost-free models will develop icing problems if air is prevented from circulating.
  • The dishwasher: Pay attention to the cycle options on your dishwasher and select the cycle that requires the least amount of energy for the job. Many models include ‘eco’ cycles designed to minimise energy and water consumption.
  • Stoves and hobs: The most efficient (and quickest) way to boil water is in a kettle but make sure that you boil only as much as you need. When using a stove try to use pots and pans that completely cover the stove plate so that heat isn’t lost. If your stovetop is dirty it will absorb heat instead of reflecting it back to the cookware, so keep it clean.
  • The oven: Don’t peek! It can be tempting to open the oven door to check on a dish’s progress but every time the oven door is opened, the temperature inside is reduced by as much as 25 degrees, forcing it to work even harder (and use more energy) to get back to temperature. Also, don’t bother preheating the oven unless you are baking.
  • Switch on the slow cooker: While your oven is one of the most expensive appliances in your kitchen, the slow cooker uses only slightly more energy than an average light bulb.
  • Unplug: Got a blender in the corner you use for a morning smoothie?Or the coffee machine ready for your morning brew? Unplug it. Keeping it plugged in when not in use will still consume energy. In fact by leaving all your small kitchen appliances plugged in will add up. It’s simply more energy efficient to plug in an appliance only when you need it.

So whether it’s using the microwave, unplugging that blender, or turning on the slow cooker, there are plenty of energy efficient cooking tips out there that can help you to cut back on your energy usage in the kitchen.

How energy savvy are you? Do you have any savvy energy saving tips? What do you like most about microwave cooking in your home?
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