We spend a lot of money for the winter holidays – parties, family dinners, toys from Santa and the list goes on and on. When holiday time rolls around, your energy bills can skyrocket with your stove, oven, and dishwasher running overtime. Not to mention, the door to your refrigerator standing open as people search for hidden tasty morsels. But, the Christmas tree isn’t the only thing that’s green for the holidays. There are tons of ways to save money and energy while still having a great time.
The winter holidays are a time for delicious food shared with friends and family. You might give a thought to the energy sources that enable you to create those culinary delights. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to keep added holiday energy costs down, even if you’re going to have to do all the cooking. New kitchen appliances use nearly 50 percent less energy than those built ten years ago. But, before you get cooking, lower the thermostat a few degrees. Once you turn on your oven and your guests arrive, the temperature inside your home will rise.
Don’t get burned by your oven:
- – Don’t open the oven door unless you have to. To take a peek at what’s cooking inside, turn on the oven light and check the cooking status through the oven window. There are also dozens of meat thermometers that you can use without opening that door. Opening the oven door lowers the temperature inside by as much as 25 degrees. This increases cooking time and wastes energy.
- – If possible, cook several items at the same time. Just make sure you leave enough room for the heat to circulate.
- – Warm your desserts in your still warm oven while you’re eating. By the time you’re finished, your pie will be ready.
- – When you’re finished cooking, leave the oven door ajar for a little while – the residual heat will keep your kitchen warm.
Stovetop Tips and Tricks
- – When cooking on your stovetop, match the size of the pan to the heating element. Less energy will be lost to the surrounding air and more heat will get to the pan. A six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner will waste more than 40 percent of the energy.
- – Keep the burners and reflectors as clean as possible. They will heat better and save energy. Buy quality reflectors when you replace them. The best on the market can save as much as one-third of the energy used to heat the element.
- – Don’t overlook your other culinary toys. Microwave ovens are fast and efficient. They use around 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens (and they don’t heat up the kitchen). You can use them to bake yams, steam your favorite fresh vegetables, or heat up the gravy. But, when it comes to the turkey, large items or breads, your oven or stovetop are usually more efficient.
- – Remember the small appliances lurking in the cabinets. They’re energy savers that can save you money all year long. Slow cookers, like crock-pots, will cook a whole meal for about 17 cents worth of electricity. Electric skillets can really multitask and cook a variety of food items in various ways. Some even double as serving dishes.
- – If you’re baking or broiling small food items, use a toaster oven. They use one-third less energy than a bigger oven.
- – If you’re truly adventurous, get out of the kitchen. Roast your turkey and vegetables on the grill; you’re in for a tasty treat. Or give fried Turkey a try.
Give the Frigidaire a break
- – Your refrigerator and freezer are probably more efficient than older models, but they’re one of the largest energy consumers in your house – up to 15 percent of your home’s total energy usage. Operate your fridge and freezer more efficiently and economically by keeping the doors closed as much as possible. However, leaving the door open for a longer period of time while you take out everything you need is more efficient than opening and closing the doors several times.
- – Keep your refrigerator and freezer full during the holidays. The mass of cold items inside will help your refrigerator maintain the temperature after the door is opened.
- – Keep the canned drinks and bottled water in a cooler with ice, so you won’t open the refrigerator door unless it’s necessary.
Washing your dishes
- – Put the kids to work. Gathering several people together to wash and dry your dishes by hand can save energy if you don’t keep a steady stream of hot water flowing. A load of dishes cleaned in a dishwasher requires 37 percent less water than washing dishes by hand. But, if you fill the wash and rinse basins instead of letting the water run, you’ll use half as much water as a dishwasher and use very little electricity.
- – If you opt to use the dishwasher, fill it up before you turn it on. If you must rinse your dishes before loading them, use cold water so you’re not heating water unnecessarily.
- – Use the energy-saving cycles – you can save up to 10 percent of your dishwashing energy costs.
Throughout the holiday season and into the New Year, you’ll watch your energy bills drop – one more thing to be thankful for this holiday season. But, saving energy should extend to your entire home.
Your HVAC system and plumbing run all year long, so they need extra attention to be efficient. While you’re preparing for the holidays, contact your HVAC and plumbing professional, like Berkeys Air Conditioning & Plumbing. They have energy saving tips, too. They may also have specials on equipment or other services. Your HVAC and plumbing professionals may also have service plans, like Berkeys BAM Plan, that can help save you money on service calls and provide annual tune-ups.