The new kitchen is one that centers energy efficiency and savings at its core. Whether it be large-scale condominium projects, home renovations and retrofits, or new home designs – we are seeing an emphatic shift towards kitchens that prioritize savings while not skimping or sacrificing on quality.
So what kind of things should you be looking for in your next kitchen design project or home purchase? Here are three things you can do in the kitchen to optimize your energy efficiency, reduce your carbon footprint, and ensure that your hard-earned money is going towards the food in the fridge, and not the energy bills.
1. Reheat food using the microwave
If you’re a ‘foodie’, this one might be taboo – but if you’re willing to make the full-time shift to reheating food via the microwave, you’ll save money. Ultimately, microwaves are both far more time and energy-efficient than ovens or stovetops when it comes to energy output. Take a look at this comparative table:
Microwave vs. large oven (Source: CNET)
|Average energy draw per hour
|Cost per hour
|Cost per year (365 hours cooking)
Heating an oven up for the express purpose of reheating a cold food is an inefficient and time consuming process, to say nothing of how it can lead to residual heating of the kitchen space. We all know that, in the summer, we should avoid turning on the oven as much as possible; the microwave, of course, does not lead to the same issues. The confined, non-invasive process of reheating food in the microwave does not lead to heat (or radiation) leakage. Microwaves also use up to 80% less energy than conventional ovens – and considering how long it can take to heat a simple cold item in the conventional oven (10-15 minutes from oven turn on to sufficient heat) versus a microwave oven (2-3 minutes if of regular size and not frozen), this can add up.
We know that there are those who are absolutely emphatic about the superiority of ‘oven reheated’ food over microwaves. While this isn’t a blog for the gourmand, what we can say is that, all things considered, the benefits of reheating via microwave far outweigh the detriments.
2. Take care of your refrigerator
While we don’t give a great deal of critical thought to our refrigerator – unless, of course, it conks out on us – there are many small changes that you can make in your fridge habits that can lead to substantive energy cost reduction, and lengthen the lifespan of the appliance.
Notice the thin rubber seal around the inside of your fridge door beginning to crack or peel away? Replace it – right away. That seal is one of the most crucial vanguards to retaining cool air in the fridge. As that starts to deteriorate, so too will your fridge’s energy efficiency.
Putting hot dinner items in a storage container as leftovers? Wait to put those items into the fridge until after they’ve cooled down. The residual heat that they will produce if put into the fridge while still hot will demand more cooling of your fridge, thereby increasing its energy output
And placement matters here, too – when designing your home, consider placing your fridge away from high heat sources like the oven or the dishwasher. These appliances will direct heat onto the fridge, demanding more work of your fridge in service of maintaining a cool temperature
3. Turn off the heat a few minutes early
This is one that we learn at a relatively young age, but somehow forget about as we age. Whether it be the stovetop or the oven, food continues to heat and/or cook for some time after we turn off or turn down the heat source. This is particularly the case when talking about the oven, where it can take upwards of 10 minutes for the heat to effectively dissipate and stop cooking your food. Use that hard earned heat energy!
It may seem like a minor thing, but as with all adjustments, these things add up in the long run. Turning off your boiling pot or water, your frying skillet, or your oven-baked item a minute or two before the timer goes off will result in virtually the same product, with valuable energy cost savings. Just make sure to check that the food is done before fully shutting down the cookware!