A line from the song “Deck the Halls” is often repeated around this time, which is “‘Tis the season to be jolly.” We know so much of that joviality revolves around family time, cooking and, of course, eating. It’s no wonder by January, gyms are packed with folks trying to undo all this cheerfulness of the past two months.
While we are not in the business of counting calories, although there are plenty of apps for that, we can save you money on your electric bill if you will be spending lots of time in the kitchen. And the great thing about these tips is that they are applicable all year long.
So here are just a few of our most popular recommendations that we compiled over the years from various sources, including the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program:
• Use small electric pans, toaster ovens or convection ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster or convection oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
• Use microwaves and slow cookers when possible. They use less energy than the stove or oven. When reheating food or cooking smaller dishes, consider using your microwave whenever possible because you could save up to 50 percent of your cooking energy usage. Cooking in a crockpot can also be much more efficient than using your oven. A crockpot costs 10 cents to run for eight hours while an oven costs 32 cents to run for just one hour.
• Keep the inside of your microwave and oven clean because it improves their efficiency.
• Use your dishwasher only when it’s full. You can save 5,000 gallons of water each year and $40 in utility costs by using a dishwasher instead of hand-washing dishes.
• Use the air-dry option on dishwashers. It saves energy and keeps the machine from using a heating element to bake your dishes dry. Most dishwashers today are equipped with an electrical heating element that can account for up to 15 percent of the energy used.
• Unlike a refrigerator, a freezer works most efficiently when packed as full as possible.
• Use a thermometer to check the temperature. Freezers should be kept between zero and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures that are too cold waste energy and too warm temperatures can lead to premature food spoilage.
• Leaky door seals are a main culprit for energy loss in a freezer. Improperly sealed doors let cold air escape, making it work harder.
• Turn off that ice maker until you really need a lot of ice because automatic ice makers generate heat that the freezer has to offset. Ice makers can increase your refrigerator’s energy use by 10 percent or more.
• Install and use efficient exhaust fans because they can be very effective in removing moisture, pollution and odors from your kitchens and bathrooms. When installing new fans, install Energy Star qualified ventilation fans. These use less energy and last longer than conventional models. Also, they don’t need to run more than 20 minutes to do their job. Leaving a fan on too long not only wastes energy, it wastes cool air in the summer and hot air in the winter by releasing them outdoors as exhaust.
For energy efficiency tips for the rest of the house, go to savewithppl.com. Best wishes on a safe and healthy holiday season!
(Witter is the regional affairs director for PPL.)