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Energy and Resource Consumption and Conservation in the Kitchen


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One of the things I can't bring myself to do is to heat my oven for an hour to cook one or two pizzas on a stone.  No matter what it costs, this just seems a waste of electricity. 

 

My induction cooktop uses less electricity - and works wonderfully.  Not an energy saver, but whenever I wash salad I use the water in the garden. 

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------ I keep my refrigerator and freezer quite full, as the thermal mass conserves the cold so the unit does not need to run as much. -----

 

I don't think it works that way. How often the refrigerator works has not much to do with how full it is. How often it runs is completely dependent on how well the insulation works. It cost you money to have lots of stuff going stale inside your refrigerator.

 

------------------ If the power fails, I quickly transfer one from the freezer to the top shelf of the fridge, then shut it and don't open either door until the power is restored.  A few years ago when the Halloween snowstorm hit New England, I had no power for 106 hours.  The only thing that spoiled was an opened container of cream that was on the verge of curdling before the storm arrived.  

 

I don't think you need to worry that much about losing cool opening your refrigerator. You only lost 0.02 btu per cubic foot of air for each degree F change. In other words, assuming you have 10 cubic feet of air in your refrigerator, and you replace all of it with air that is 50 degrees F hotter, you only need 10 btus of energy to cool all the air back down to it's original temperature.

 

You will save a lot of energy if you clean the coils behind the refrigerator often.

 

You will save a lot of energy if you go to Home Depot and buy 1" thick rigid foam board to surround your refrigerator.

 

dcarch

 

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An interesting topic, and one apart of a book a family of member of mine is working on.

 

One of the themes is that when you are using an oven, in our case Gas, you are taking significant energy to heat it up, instead of just using it to cook whatever is needed at that moment in time - plan ahead.  What else do you have that can benefit from a quick roast, or a slow one with the residual heat?

 

Garlic Confit, Onions, Roasted Root Veg perhaps to throw in soup later?  Ideas are as endless as the imagination.

 

Old fashioned cook books from the 1930-1960s have suggestions for "oven meals", where everything is cooked using the same heat.   I did that last night -- we had meatloaf, roasted asparagus, roasted potatoes and cherry cake, all cooked at the same time.

 

We also unplug most appliances -- microwave, coffee maker, radio, etc. -- that we're not using that have ready lights, only plug them in when they're wanted.  Since we started doing that, our electric/Hydro bills are about $8/month lower. 

 

Don't let the water run -- especially the hot -- and try to reuse water as much as possible (I think the latter is a holdover from my West Coast days).  I also fill a container for water for coffee in the morning the night before, so I don't have to run water to flush the pipes in the morning. 

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We also unplug most appliances -- microwave, coffee maker, radio, etc. -- that we're not using that have ready lights, only plug them in when they're wanted.  Since we started doing that, our electric/Hydro bills are about $8/month lower. 

 

 

 

Thanks for reminding me.  I do that as well, but rather than plug and unplug appliances, I use these simple switches:

 

Cutoff Switch.jpg

 

There are many styles and variations of these switches, some remotely activated.

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 ... Shel


 

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The main thing I do is avoid boiling huge pots of water. I've seen recommendations to cook a pound of pasta in over gallons of water; I use around 3 quarts, and honestly don't think it makes a difference. I buy good pasta—that makes a difference.

 

When cooking green vegetables, instead of pre-blanching them, I pre-steam them. This can be done with a cup or two of water instead of a gallon. It works! You get the same vibrant green, and it works nearly instantly. 1:45 to 2 minutes for tough stalks (kale, etc.), under a minute for the leaves. 

 

This can be done effectively and with extreme laziness by forgoing the steamer: just bring 1/4" water to a boil, and throw the greens in. Time it conservatively. Dump into a colander and run under cold water. Set aside and sauté when you're ready.

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Notes from the underbelly

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I cook around  90% of my food in a wok. Woks were invented primarily to save energy. The food is cut into bite size pieces and rapidly cooked. Rice I do in a rice cooker.

 

My kitchen, like most Chinese kitchens has no hot water supply. Most bowls, plates etc can be safely washed in cold water. When I feel hot water is more appropriate, I boil some up in a small kettle I bought in the UK.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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!) LED lights in kitchen.

Have around 15 cans in the ceiling.

One (1) LED = about 6 of the old lights.

 

2) Pressure cooker

 

3) Induction hot plate

 

4) One (1) pot dinners

 

4) If I'm going to roast one (1) chicken in the oven, might as well roast four (4).

 

My record for roasing chickens in the oven is nine (9).

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what a great topic I am currently remodeling my kitchen so all energy saving tips are important to me …not to mention we all need to conserve ..for us locally ..we have no snow pack in Washington now and in for a long haul with a severe water shortage so water is a huge deal ...energy is related to water and on and on……one thing we are doing after a lot of back and forth is to go ahead and  install  a solar tube in the  with an LED solar light inside. Our kitchen sucks light out of the house into a dark pit of gloom then for several hours a day it is like a magnifying glass because of the way the house is situated a solar tube is ideal in the kitchen ..sooo we are going to do it ASAP ..just getting what we need is difficult because we have to deal with vendors and can not just order what we need …another thing I did that cost literally nothing but some good scrounging ...was  I put  a rain barrels right outside the doors for my kitchenI have a kitchen garden and plants on the window sill so why not use rainwater for them and my animals (my dog water bowl is in the kitchen and gets watered from the rain barrel along.. .... I was able to get free barrels from a friend they are food grade ..my husband plumbed them both to the rain gutters then put faucets on them (we had lots of plumbing stuff around but what we used was so cheap even if we bought it )..a rain barrel is with in anyone's reach I swear and one by the kitchen is very  efficient and handy I promise!  ...also ..I put a nest boxes for my chickens  right outside the kitchen  door so I can just reach out off the porch in the morning  and some of my chickens are cooperating and lay regularly there so I do not have to waste energy running around looking for eggs LOL….that counts right?..another energy saver?because  I have chickens and a garden (both big energy savers since you do not have to get in your car and go buy food it is right outside your kitchen or even on the windowsill ..another energy saving tip bring veggies in as close as you can even growing green onions and herbs ion the windowsill  ...no kitchen waste..I .never use the disposal..everythign gets composted or fed to animals ..no waste less energy used to get rid of trash . you can even compost on your counter if you do not have a compost pile .....….there is not much left after chickens and ducks …to compost but coffee grounds.they not only eat everything but in return I get eggsfertilizer  they are my mousers around the kitchen  doors (I used to have a mouse issuel living in the woods but now the chickens keep the mice out of the kitchen)… ..also I do not use the fridge for storage of anything including eggs.. that does not have to go in there (I used to shoving things in thinking a full fridge was a more efficient one and that is not true overloading causes it to work harder ..folks probably know  but for me it is new....including the eggs ..I keep it clean and let the air circulation be non obstructed ..I clean my vent often. Oh hell if you keep all your appliances clean and well vented they work better and save energy …we are also installing a heating mat under the kitchen floor because the kitchen gets so cold in the winter and heating it when the house is fine is silly ..so the concrete counter top will get one as well when I pour it …so many good tips here thank you! ... I will be watching this thread. most of my appliances have to be replaced one at a time and I am really careful about the energy ratings ..the new dishwasher was not essential my other one worked but was such an energy sucker and the dishes needed rinsing prior to putting them in ..that makes no sense and defeats the point of having a dishwasher to me not to mention wastes tons of water! The new one I made sure  has a very short..short cycle and that was a must for me .they run so damn long I traded my older less efficient model that required I rinse dishes first….for muscovy ducks for the garden .the new one dried dead things stuck for days (I even tested dried on rice ) even in the short cycle i have yet to try the other ones! .that was a huge waste … rinsing IS washing and if I go that far I will wash .with the right dishwasher finally .…I can  just chuck the dishes in food and all and they come out clean. So while I had a good dishwasher previously (it has a very good home now with my friends who traded me for the muscovy ducks) win win win  ok some of this is redundant to what folks have said ..I am sorry..but such a good topic and this is all I got for now but hopefully have some great inspirations and come up with more ideas for a kitchen semi off the grid …the more we save the better both for the world and our wallets. 

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
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why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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We have Smart Meters here, too.  When our utility first installed them, a lot of people were upset.  I didn't care one way or another, but now I find the meter is helpful in my keeping track of electricity costs.  I go online and see what my usage is shaping up to be, and can even check the cost for cooking a meal (we get our usage broken down into 15-minute segments).

 

We also have a similar tiered system for energy costs, although it's of little concern for me as my usage is really bare minimum.  In the almost two years I've lived here, the most I've payed for electricity in a month was $6.19, which was in February of this year when I did a lot of cooking and made a big Valentine's Day dinner for Toots.

Do you have a clothes washer and dryer in you apt?

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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I cook 90% of my meals outdoors on my gas grill (I only cook one meal a day at home on average).  

 

In summers, turning on the oven and/or stove-top generates heat indoors and means more energy for a/c....we live in Central Florida so a/c is a fact of life, but we use it sparingly as we can, have ceiling fans in every room, including the kitchen.  

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I forgot to mention my windows. When I purchased my house it had the original cheap, single-paned, aluminum-framed windows. I upgraded all the windows before moving in to modern dual-pane, gas filled, light filtering, vinyl framed models. I could tell immediately that they did not transfer heat like the old windows. As an added bonus, they really made the house much quieter. I am very certain that I save at least $400/year in electricity because of the windows.

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Do you have a clothes washer and dryer in you apt?

 

I am very conservative when it comes to doing laundry.  For example, I have enough T-shirts, underwear, socks, and the like, that there's no need to do laundry more than once per month.  When I wash heavy items, such as jeans and sweat shirts, they are most often hung to dry rather than put through the dryer.  It's easy for me to do as I set the drying rack in the shower and leave the clothes to hang until they are dry.  I'm often away from the apartment for a few days, so the loss of the use of the shower is of no concern.

 

I don't hang these items just to save money, but to reduce wear on them. Going through a dryer takes a toll on fabric.  I'm happy to say that I have jeans and sweat shirts that are still in decent condition after 30+ years of use.

 

Towels I have plenty, and I don't wash them after each use.  Towels get washed about once a month as well.  Shirts are sent to be professionally laundered, as are my better, dressy pants.

 

The washer is a large capacity, so it's easy to save up laundry for a big load.

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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I would really love to see the day that outdoor clothes lines are not banned in many places.

 

Not only do clothes dry fast out there (especially if there is a breeze) and smell so much fresher with no additive parfum's but sheets in particular get bleached nicely - especially in winter when they freeze solid before drying out. Not to mention it is cheap! And, since they are not 'illegal' where I live in Nova Scotia (thank goodness), I have rediscovered a sense of 'community' and of my childhood ... when I walk down the road and see the lines full of clothes, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.   

 

When will people come back to their senses?

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Thought of two (2) other ways.

 

Will cook a pound of pasta in a 4 qt. sauce pan.

I just break the pasta in half.

 

Less water and cooks faster.

 

 

Second way was new windows, blown in insulation in the roof above the kitchen, and new duct work for the hood.

 

Huge difference in the gas bill.

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If you microwave dried pasta with about the same amount of water as pasta, much less water is used than for any stovetop method I am aware of and there is no hot water to throw out. I also cook pasta in the microwave for less time (by at least a couple of minutes) than specified on the package and it seems to work out fine.

 

I keep hoping that someone will also discover that fast micro'd al dente pasta immersed in minimal water yields much more resistant starch - but that is probably a pipe dream. :raz: It does save energy, water and time however.

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Steaming eggs and potatoes takes less water and less energy than boiling. That is one way I have reduced energy costs. The truth is, though, I don't do it for the energy saving, I do if for how I like the food turns out. The eggs have the added benefit of peeling more easily.

 

In my ren faire kitchen I have also moved to steaming the eggs I hard-cook (15 dozen/weekend) and steaming the potatoes (10lb at a crack) and have noticed that my propane usage has definitely gone down. I've steamed veggies for many years.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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