17 smart cooking tips to slash your electricity bill

Of all the places in your house, the kitchen is probably the biggest energy guzzling space. From your oven and stove to your fridge, a lot of kitchen appliances use up a lot of electricity. Looking for ways to save energy while cooking? Read on to discover how you can make your trips to the kitchen more energy efficient.

Prepping to save money

Saving money while cooking starts at the very first phase: prepping. Properly prepping your dinner recipes can save you some energy later on and help lower that dreaded electricity bill.

1. Defrost food first

This might seem like an obvious one, but there are still a lot of people that throw frozen foods right into the oven or frying pan. If you do that your appliances first have to work to defrost before they can get to the cooking part. Something else to consider is that you can’t really season frozen food and applying heat immediately could even result in tough meat.

The best way to defrost food is in your fridge. This has two advantages over just leaving it to thaw on a countertop. First off you minimize the chance of spoiling it and getting food poisoning. Secondly you can use frozen foods as a cooling element in your refrigerator while they thaw. This is actually a fridge energy saving trick, as the appliance won’t have to work as hard for a bit.

2. Size matters

A simple way to save time and money is by cutting your food into smaller pieces. Popping whole potatoes in your oven will require a longer cooking time for example than when you quarter them. An added benefit is that your seasonings and marinades have more surface area to work with if you go for smaller portions. So less electricity, but more flavor. That sounds like a win-win situation.

3. Mise en place

Another way to minimize energy costs during prep is by having your mise en place ready before even starting to cook. That means having all your spices at hand and cutting all the ingredients. It could help you cut back on cooking time if you’re using a frying pan for example. A lot of times people cook longer, because they still have to chop onions or dice tomatoes while already frying other ingredients.

prepping food to save electricity costs
Have all your ingredients ready to cook more efficiently

Use your power hungry oven more efficiently

One of the most energy slurping appliances in your kitchen is without a doubt your oven. There are alternatives to consider, but if you insist on using it at least use it more efficiently.

4. More is less

Before you start popping things into the oven, you might want to consider preparing a few more dishes for the coming week. Cooking multiple dishes at the same time is a good way to save energy. Yes it will take a bit longer to cook everything through, but this way you don’t have to warm up your oven for every single dish. Ultimately it saves you energy, money, and time. And well time is also money in the end, isn’t it.

Oven: cook multiple dishes at the same time to save electricity
Cook multiple dishes at the same time to save energy

5. Stop being a peeping tom

When your food is finally in the oven, try to restrain yourself from opening that door to check on it. As you can imagine this causes the oven to lose heat and will require extra energy to get it back up to the right temperature. Most ovens have a tranparent door. Just try to keep it clean, so you can stalk your food without opening anything. Also, if you’re baking bread, slamming the door closed could cause it to collapse. No risk of that happening if you just don’t open it.

6. Check the actual temperature

Unfortunately ovens are sometimes big fat liars. You might set them to a certain temperature and they might tell you that’s how hot it is inside, but the inside temperature could still be way off. Usually when that happens the temperature is a lot higher than it’s supposed to be. Use an extra thermometer inside your oven to check what the actual temperature is. Maintaining a higher temperature costs more energy. If your recipe doesn’t call for that higher temperature you’re wasting energy and might also overcook your dishes.

7. Stop with the aluminum foil

Some people like to line their oven racks with aluminum foil to keep the appliance clean. And while a clean oven is in fact an energy saving measure, using aluminum foil to achieve it is really not a good idea. The foil could disrupt heat distribution, making your oven less efficient for example. Lining your oven with aluminum foil could even damage it. The heat reflected by the foil could damage the heating elements, cause scratches on the enamel surfaces, and overcook your food.

Especially putting foil on the bottom of your oven can be detrimental. Although foil is heat resistant, it has been known to melt in the oven. And unfortunately that could cause permanent damage to your appliance.

8. Moisture test

While your oven is on, check to see if any moisture builds up on the inside of the door. If you notice moisture, it most probably means that the oven door seal is damaged. This reduces the energy efficiency of your oven and can cause the appliance to heat up unevenly. Replace the seal or gasket to avoid using up unnecessary energy.

Save electricity/gas on your stove

Apart from your oven, your stove is also an energy guzzling giant. But still, there are ways to make using it a lot more efficient. Of course there are different types of stoves to prepare your meals on. Compared to an electric stove in general it seems induction hobs are more efficient and gas stoves take less time to heat your pans. Whether using a gas stove is cheaper than an electric or induction stove really depends on the gas and electricity prices. And at the moment both are going a bit haywire.

9. Bigger isn’t always better

When it comes to your stove and pans, size does really matter. Matching your pans to the burner size can save you energy and money. Using a small pan on a big burner, won’t make the pan heat up any faster. The only thing you’d be doing is wasting electricity. Putting a bigger pan or pot on a smaller burner is not a bad thing per se. You could do this if you’re just simmering, but if you’re trying to sauté anything you’ll have to deal with the uneven heat distribution.

10. Put a lid on it

When boiling water, you’ll want to keep the lid on your pots. Not only does this get your water boiling a lot faster, but it also keeps the heat where it’s supposed to be. And that’s not hovering above your pot. After your water starts boiling, you can easily turn the heat down and the lid will keep things bubbling.

keep lid on pans to save energy
Keep the lid on the save energy

11. Flat is better

When it comes to pots and pans not all cookware was created equal. Ideally you want pans with a flat bottom or a bottom that bulges downward slightly in the middle. This way the entire bottom of the pain is in contact with the heating element, which causes it to heat up faster and more evenly. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, using a warped bottom can cost you up to 50 percent more energy compared to a flat-bottomed pot.

This tip is especially relevant if you’re using an electric or induction stove.

12. Right amount of water

If you’re heating up water, you now know to keep the lid on. But what also helps cut down on energy costs is not just randomly filling up the whole pot. Use the right amount of water for your dish. Less water will take less time to heat up and… you’re using less water. Double save!

13. Save energy with Harrold McGee’s pasta tip

We know some Italian chefs condemn this method, but “On Food and Cooking” author Harold McGee has an interesting way to save energy on pasta dishes. Instead of first boiling a pot of water, the food expert advices grabbing a frying pan instead. He even recommends adding the pasta and cold water at the same time. This should save some energy as you have to heat less water and start cooking the pasta while the water is heating. The author also says it’s a good way to avoid sticky pasta.

Extra energy saving tips while cooking

Thought you were ready to dive into the kitchen? Guess again. We have a few more energy saving tips for when you prepare your next meal.

14. Keep everything clean and bright

Keeping your cooking appliances clean is not just a matter of food safety and hygiene. Keeping your oven and stove top sparkling can actually help reduce the amount of energy the appliances use. The brighter your burner’s grease plates are, the more heat they reflect upward. And that means an increase in energy efficiency. If you want to cheat you could also line them with aluminum foil (yes it’s ok here, but not in the oven).

As for your oven, keeping it clean will help it reach the desired temperature more quickly and distribute heat more evenly. Grease or built-up carbon deposits can hurt its efficiency, causing the appliance to work harder to maintain the set cooking temperature. Apart from that, a dirty oven could contaminate your food and even be a fire hazard.

15. Save energy with residual heat

When you turn off the heat on your oven or stove, you know that the appliances won’t immediately be cold. You can use this residual heat to finish the cooking process. Just turn the appliances off a few minutes before you normally would. Granted it won’t save you thousands of dollars, but every little bit counts right? You could also use the residual heat of your oven to warm up sides that might have cooled down, instead of heating them in the microwave.

16. Alternative appliances

.And speaking of microwaves, did you know that they cost you less money than an oven? So if you’re not opposed to microwaves and the dish fits, it will save you on electricity bills.

Another economical oven alternative is the airfryer. It’s basically a small oven, but because it’s smaller it takes a lot less time to heat up. Airfryers have a spiral heating element and a powerful fan that help cut down on cooking time. And you don’t have to wait an average of 10 minutes for the thing to heat up before you can actually start cooking. Of course you can’t really use it to prepare multiple dishes all at once.

17. Beware of energy vampires

The last tip we want to leave you with is making sure to unplug your electrical appliances when you’re not using them. Because although they’re switched off, they still consume energy, hence the term energy vampire. If taking out the plugs is too much of a hassle, you could go for smart plug sockets. That allows you to really switch off your appliances though an app or even through Alexa and Google Assistant.

Ilona Braam

Ilona is a Digital Media Design graduate, content writer/creator and a whole bunch of other things. A few words that would describe her are jolly, creative, nerdy, curious and a bit dark.