We all want to save on the electricity bill. The kitchen happens to be where the majority of electricity is used in most homes with so many major appliances, so it is a great place to focus your efforts on reducing your usage! I’ve listed my top tips to save electricity in the kitchen, as well as specific tips for saving electricity on all major kitchen appliances.
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Save Electricity in the Kitchen
- Run major appliances in non-peak times. If your power company has different rates for different times of the day, learn them and use it to your advantage! For example, with TorontoHydro, I will pay less than half the price per kWh for electricity from 7pm-7am than peak times like 5-7pm. So it would cost me less than half the price if I wait until after 7pm to run the dishwasher! Yes please!
- Earn cash back with OhmConnect. Earn money for using less electricity during peak times! Earn $10 when you sign up through my link. You can cash out to PayPal right away! Learn more about the OhmConnect program here.
- Use energy efficient appliances. Whenever possible, use an energy efficient appliance over an older, less efficient one to save electricity in the kitchen. When it comes time to replace any major appliances, choose one with the best EnergyStar rating. Better yet, consider switching to appliances that use natural gas, which will be less expensive to run in the long term.
- Get rid of redundant appliances. Get rid of that old fridge in the garage that barely has anything in it, or consider plugging it in to use only when you need it, like before a party.
- Use a BBQ in the summer months. If you have a natural gas hookup for your BBQ, it’s a win-win, as natural gas is cheaper than electricity, plus cooking outside will keep the heat out, reducing your need to use air conditioning or fans. Propane or charcoal are probably more expensive than electricity, but could still be worth it if you’re avoiding heating up the house and having to use an air conditioner.
- Avoid “Phantom” Energy Loss. Energy can be used by appliances that draw electricity even when you’re not using them. This is a complete waste! The main culprits are appliances with digital displays, and ones that sit on standby all the time like the TV, gaming consoles, etc. I’ve read many times that anything plugged in still draws electricity, but I’ve looked at my exact usage and see that having things without any display light on them like a lamp or toaster plugged in DO NOT draw electricity when not in use. The time display on the oven, microwave, etc. DO draw electricity. To reduce at least some phantom electricity waste without much effort, I recommend turning off the digital displays wherever possible, (do we need to see the time displayed on every appliance? No.) unplugging unused appliances, and choosing simpler appliances that don’t have digital displays when you do purchase one.
- Use manual appliances instead of electric. Some examples: a knife and grater instead of a food processor, manual coffee grinder, coffee press instead of electric coffee maker, hand held potato masher, whisk, etc. In addition to saving electricity in the kitchen, this tip also keeps your kitchen minimalist by reducing the clutter of multiple appliances.
- Don’t buy battery operated appliances. This isn’t exactly electricity, but the same principles of the previous point apply. For example, a milk frother for lattes. Batteries are expensive, bad for the environment, and very inconvenient (they die in the middle of a job, then you have to go search for new batteries). Why not use a whisk?
- Switch overhead and task lighting to LEDs. Is anyone still using incandescent bulbs these days? If so, OMG it is completely worth it to invest in LED bulbs! Even if you’re using CFLs or halogen, switching to LEDs could pay for themselves within a year or less based on the reduction of electricity use! If you’re on a tight budget, replace the bulbs in the fixtures that are used the most, and go from there. Also check for online coupons! My electricity company (TorontoHydro) offers printable coupons for energy efficient bulbs.
- Adjust the hot water heater to a lower temp. Our hot water makes up almost 30% of our electricity bill! I looked at the settings, and it was turned up as high as it would go. I turned it down to about ¾ of what it was and we literally can’t even notice a difference in the heat. As a write this, I think I’m going to turn it down even more!
Save Electricity in the Kitchen While Cooking
- Use appliances that use less energy. Using small appliances like a slow cooker, instant pot, microwave or toaster oven to cook or reheat food will definitely save some electricity. I’m not saying never use the oven, but obviously there are times when a small appliance will do just as good, if not better, job than the oven, with the bonus of using less electricity.
- Use a slow cooker. Not only will your supper be ready to eat as soon as you walk in the door, but you will save electricity by using the smaller appliance and having it running during the daytime vs the peak time between 4-7pm when the electricity company charges a higher rate per kWh.
- Serve a combo of raw and cooked foods. Simply put, you’ll use less electricity to cook if you serve raw foods like salad or veggies and dip for your side dish sometimes. Eating both raw and cooked vegetables will provide more variety in your meals so you don’t feel like you’re always eating the same thing. There are also health benefits such as easier digestion and absorption of some nutrients in cooked vegetables and higher levels of other nutrients in raw vegetables. It’s a win-win-win!
- Try to time your food so it’s all ready at the same time. If your food is all ready to eat at the same time, you will definitely save electricity versus keeping some food on a hot burner or oven while the rest finishes. Your food will be better quality too! It’s definitely a skill that takes practice but it can be done!
- Cook your whole meal with one source of heat. Using only one burner or only the oven to cook your whole meal uses less electricity than using multiple heat sources. It’s super efficient and will save time on clean up too! Search sheet pan, one pot, slow cooker, or instant pot meal to find some recipes to try.
- Boil just as much water as you need. Do you boil the whole kettle full of water when you are just making a cup of tea? Try just putting water to the minimum fill level in the kettle to save electricity and time! You can also heat a single mug of water in the microwave pretty quickly as well.
- Batch cook. There are many, many, MANY benefits to batch cooking, but I rarely hear people talk about the electricity saving benefits! Think about it. If you’re making a batch of soup or chili, it needs to cook for at least an hour whether you’re making 1 or 2 times the recipe. The cooking time might increase slightly by making a double batch, but it definitely doesn’t take twice as long. Freezing the leftovers and reheating them later will only take a fraction of the electricity (and time!) it would take to make another meal from scratch.
- Cut foods smaller. Cutting foods into smaller pieces before cooking will enable you to cook them for a shorter amount of time. Shorter cooking time = less electricity used!
- Thaw frozen food the night before. I’m totally guilty of not always doing this! Planning ahead saves electricity in the kitchen by either reducing the cooking time (cooking from thawed versus frozen), or by eliminating the need to thaw the food quickly in the microwave.
Save Electricity in the Kitchen: The Stove Top
- Put the lid on the pot when bringing water to a boil. This keeps the heat in so the water can heat up faster, plus it saves time! It uses less electricity because heat isn’t just escaping, reducing the length of time the burner is on.
- Use the right sized pots on stove burners. If the pot is smaller than the burner, that electricity is wasted by just heating the air!
- Use an electric kettle to boil water. Bringing water to boil in a pot on the stove top might take 5 minutes or more. To save electricity (and time!) in the kitchen, put a small amount of water in the pot to boil, while boiling a full kettle of water. The kettle simply boils faster, so since the water is boiled faster, the burner won’t be on as long, saving electricity!
- Use one burner to cook more than one food. For example, when cooking rice or pasta, use a steamer over top of the pot to steam vegetables or meat. There are metal or bamboo steamers just for this purpose. Since you are using 1 burner to cook your meal instead of 2, you are literally cutting the electricity usage in half!
- Turn the burner off a few minutes before your food is done. The burner will still stay just as hot for a few minutes without using any electricity. It doesn’t seem like it would make much difference, but say you use the burner for 20 minutes, but instead turn off the burner 2 minutes early. That tiny change is actually using 10% less electricity!
Save Electricity in the Kitchen: The Oven
- Preheat your oven only as long as necessary. Time your oven to see how long it needs to preheat and try to turn it on just in time. Some people recommend not to preheat at all, but not having the oven hot when you put food in can negatively affect the outcome of baked and roasted foods. If you cook a covered dish like pot roast or stew you probably don’t need to preheat the oven.
- Heat the oven once, use twice. For example, do your baking, then use the oven for supper while it’s still hot. You could also bake 2 dishes at the same time, although the cooking times and outcome may vary. Baking more than one dish at a time works especially well if you are lucky enough to have a convection oven, which circulates the air and creates even baking.
- Try not to use the oven in warmer months. It heats up the house, and either makes you use more electricity in the form of air conditioning or fans, or makes you really uncomfortable!
- Use the oven light to check on food. Use the oven light to check on food instead of opening the door whenever possible. Every time the oven is opened, the heat can drop by 65 degrees, using more electricity to bring the temperature back up. Opening the oven also can negatively affect the outcome of certain recipes and make the food take longer to finish cooking!
- Don’t leave the oven light on. Best to turn off lights when you aren’t using them right? Turn the oven light on to check your food, then turn it off.
- Turn off the oven in the last 5-10 minutes of baking. If you keep the door closed, the oven will maintain the temperature relatively constant for 10 minutes or more (it’s insulated!), allowing the food to finish baking without using any additional electricity. Note: This tip is best for roasted food like meat and vegetables, and might affect baked goods. This tip doesn’t apply when you are using the broiler either, which requires the direct heat to crisp up your food.
Save Electricity in the Kitchen: The Fridge & Freezer
- Keep your fridge and freezer at least ½ full. The cool foods hold the temperature steadier than air. This is mainly because the cool air easily escapes every time the door is opened, making the fridge and freezer work harder to bring the temperature back down. You can use jars or bottles of water to take up space if your fridge isn’t usually more than ½ full.
- Keep the door closed. Perhaps this goes without saying, but don’t stand in front of the fridge with the door open while deciding what you want to eat. The longer the door is open, the more cool air escapes and the harder the fridge has to work to cool it down again.
- Check the seals. The seals on the fridge and freezer doors are like weather stripping, which makes a tight seal to keep the cold in. Check the seals on your fridge and freezer doors from time to time to make sure there isn’t crumbs or a food package preventing them from keeping a tight seal.
- Choose chest style vs door style. If you happen to be replacing your freezer or fridge, choose the chest style of freezer. Because cold air is denser than warm air, it sinks to the bottom. So if you open a chest style freezer, the cold air mostly stays in, but in a door style freezer, the cold air pours out onto the floor and the freezer then has to chill the warmer air that got in.
- Keep fridge set to 4°C. Setting it cooler might keep food slightly longer, but it uses more electricity to maintain a cooler temperature, plus there is a risk of it freezing things too.
- Keep fridge coils clean. If dust builds up on the coils (usually found on the back of the fridge), the fridge has to work harder to keep cool, therefore using more electricity.
- Keep the fridge a few inches away from the wall. This will allow air to circulate around the coils and help them cool efficiently.
- Keep your fridge & freezer in a cool, shaded place. If it is in direct sunlight, you better believe it will have to work harder to keep everything inside cool!
- Don’t put hot food in the fridge. It will bring the internal temperature of the fridge up and use more electricity to cool it back down. This one may seem pretty obvious to some people, but I do know people who actually do this to try to cool their leftovers more quickly. While it is recommended to refrigerate leftovers right away and don’t leave them out at room temperature, it’s best to transfer them to a storage container and let them cool until they stop steaming before putting in the fridge.
Save Electricity in the Kitchen: The Dishwasher
- Wash by hand. If you have the luxury of owning a dishwasher, you might be reluctant to give it up. I get it! If saving electricity is your main goal, it might be a good option though. I’ve heard that handwashing dishes actually uses more water than a dishwasher, but I’m certain it would use significantly less electricity! If you aren’t letting the water run, it probably uses only a minimal amount of electricity to heat the water so is overall more energy efficient than using a dishwasher. If not using the dishwasher isn’t an option, here are my other tips that will definitely help you reduce electricity use in the kitchen.
- Use the eco mode if your dishwasher has one. The eco mode, or energy saving mode, can save 30% or more electricity compared to other modes, so it is definitely the best option for significant energy savings without any additional effort!
- Run the dishwasher in off-peak times. If your electricity company charges different rates for electricity during different times of the day, only use your dishwasher during the off-peak times when they charge a lower rate.
- Let dishes air dry. Instead of using the heat dry function of dishwasher, turn this function off and open the dishwasher door to let the dishes air dry. Air drying may also be part of the eco setting, so check your dishwasher manual for more info.
- Don’t pre-rinse. Many newer dishwashers don’t require pre-rinsing. Simply scrape food off of the dishes before putting them in and save water, plus the electricity used to heat the water.
- Only run full loads in the dishwasher. It uses the same electricity whether it is full or not, so make the most of the electricity used and wait until the dishwasher is completely full.
If you’re already doing all (or most) of these things, congratulations on mastering the frugal art of saving electricity in the kitchen!
I’m confident that applying these tips will cause a noticeable drop in your electricity bill. If you read this list and are overwhelmed or are thinking it won’t make a difference to your electricity bill, pick a few and start there. As those become second nature, add more electricity-saving tips until your house is as efficient as possible.
If you only start with 3 ways to save electricity in the kitchen, my recommendations for the biggest savings with the least effort are:
- Check if your electricity company charges more during peak times, and make an effort to use less electricity during those times.
- Turn down the hot water heater.
- Save on your electricity bill AND earn money by signing up with OhmConnect.
I’d love to hear what you think of my comprehensive list of ways to save electricity in the kitchen. Comment below and tell me which ideas you’re going to start using right away!