Top 10 ways to save energy in your kitchen

Cook a little greener -- and lower your hydro or gas bill -- with these easy tips.

By Adria Vasil

1. If you're baking in ceramic or glass, you can reduce the oven temperature by 25 F (20 C) and still cook the food in the same amount of time (these materials conduct and retain heat better than metal).

2. Keep your metal burners clean so they reflect heat better. (Same goes for your refrigerator coils and cooling your food, by the by.)

3. Make sure to match pan size to the element you're cooking on. A small pot on a large burner is just wasting energy. And small burners use less energy.

4. Who says pasta needs to cook at a raging boil for 15 straight minutes? The package instructions for Tinkada rice noodles tell you to cook them for one or two minutes in boiling water, then turn off the stove and cover the pot for 20 minutes. It only takes five minutes longer, and saves energy. You can do this with basically any pasta -- just test it after 15 minutes until you figure out the timing for your particular brand of penne or linguine.

5. Keep a lid on it (your cooking, that is). You're just letting all that heat escape otherwise -- unless, of course, it's integral to the recipe, like a reduction sauce.

6. Smaller is always better. Think toaster oven over electric oven and hand-held blender over food processor.

7. Human power obviously burns much cleaner than electricity, so consider a manual coffee grinder, a hand beater and a plain old knife over fancy plug-in gadgets.

8. Rice cookers and slow cookers (Crockpots) are much more efficient at whipping up your dinner than stovetop methods. Just make sure you stick to Teflon-free models and look for those with stainless steel interiors.

9. If you're cooking with frozen food, make sure to thaw it first (unless otherwise indicated); it'll take longer to cook that fish or whatnot if it's still half frozen.

10. Curiosity kills your electrical bills. Keep your oven door closed as much as possible while you're cooking. Peeking inside causes at least 20 per cent of the heat to escape, and the poor oven has to waste energy warming itself up again.
 

Excerpted from Ecoholic by Adria Vasil. Copyright 2007 by Adria Vasil. Excerpted by permission of Vintage Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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