Guide to Green Living

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Tips to Make your Kitchen More Efficient

Keep it cool, but not too cool – There are many ways to practice efficient refrigeration regardless of the efficiency of the appliance itself. Once you have bought your fridge, install it in the coolest part of your kitchen, away from ovens, stovetops, dishwashers and windows. Also, cover all food that goes into the fridge, especially liquids. This will reduce the amount of moisture build-up in the fridge, therefore reducing the amount of energy needed to defrost it. Make sure the temperature setting on your fridge isn’t too low. The recommended temperatures are 3 to 4.5C (37-40F) for the fresh food compartment and -18C to -15C (0-5F) for the freezer section. Before putting hot food in the fridge, let it cool a bit so your fridge won’t have to work as hard to cool it. A lot of energy can be used and wasted by your fridge when the door is open so know what you want before you open it. For example, know all the ingredients you’ll need if you’re baking and get them all at once instead of reopening the fridge several times. Another way to keep your fridge efficient is through maintenance. Make sure the door seals are airtight to reduce the loss of cool air. (You can do this by placing a piece of paper in the door and closing it. If the paper can be pulled out easily, the seal is not tight enough) You should also clean the condenser coils behind your fridge at least once a year depending on the model.

Increase the energy efficiency of your oven and stovetop – When cooking with an electric oven, keep in mind that you can turn off the heat a couple of minutes before the food is done. If you don’t open the door, enough heat remains in the oven to finish cooking. A basic tip for ovens is not to open the door of the oven to check on your dish. Using the oven’s light and window will prevent heat loss that accompanies opening the door. A related tip is to make sure the seal on your oven door is tight. Remember that you do not need to preheat the oven for broiling or roasting. When you do need to preheat, only do so for 5-8 minutes, not longer. When cooking with pots on the stove, keep the lids on to reduce heat loss and use flat-bottomed cookware so that the heat being produced by the element is being absorbed efficiently. Also keep in mind that ceramic and glass pans can reduce cooking time. To clean your appliance, make sure any reflective surfaces are kept clean and shiny to increase efficiency. If you use the self-cleaning setting on your oven only use it for major clean-ups and try to use it soon after cooking, while the oven is still warm. When you can, use your microwave oven to cook; they use much less energy than standard ovens and take less time to cook.

Minimize the impact from your dishwasher – Try not to use your dishwasher during peak energy-use hours. Instead, turn it on in the evening or at night. Also, you should rinse dishes in cold water before putting them in the dishwasher, and scrape off any food that is stuck on so they will come out perfectly clean, and no further washing is required. Remember to only use your dishwasher for full loads, but make sure not to overload it. This will ensure the dishes are properly cleaned. Don't use the heat dry option on your dishwasher to dry your dishes. Simply letting them air dry is a much more energy-friendly option, and just as effective.

Some more general tips – Consider installing water saving aerators and flow regulators on your taps to reduce the amount of water wasted in your kitchen. Although they are not recommended, if you do have a garbage disposal system only use cold water to run it. In addition, as with any room in your house, make sure walls and windows are properly insulated and weatherstripped, and use energy efficient lighting such as compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Have any tips of your own? Add them in the comments!


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