Energy saving tips
Put a lid on it
It can take twice as long to heat a pan of water to boiling point with the lid off than with the lid on. The rest of the heat is wasted and steams up the room.
Once water has reached boiling point in normal circumstances it doesn’t get any hotter, the extra energy that you put in just gets used to create steam. Turn down the ring so that it boils more gently and you will save energy and money and avoid steaming up the kitchen.
Some food require soaking before they can be eaten such as pulses, beans and even pasta. A lot of the time that they take to cook is spent increasing their moisture content. You can cut the cooking time and so the energy content by soaking them beforehand — however unusual this sounds.
Steaming vegetables on the hob requires less energy than boiling them — and may use less than a microwave — it is also a very good way of preserving the mineral content of the food as vitamins dissolve in water — thus reducing the nutritional value. ‘Stacker pans’, where one food is steamed above another that is boiling, make this even more energy efficient.
Although these have gone out of fashion in the UK they remain popular in the US and elsewhere. By pressurizing the pan they reduce the amount of heat required to cook. There are now electric models that can be controlled electronically this makes it easier to produce perfect results.
Another once-popular technology is making something of a comeback. Food is cooked usually for 8 and 10 hours in a ceramic pot which fits inside a metal housing. This is heated by an electrical element which cooks the food from the bottom. A typical unit might use one kWh (about 13p) of electricity to cook the food and slow cookers are especially useful in making less expensive cuts of meat very tender and succulent.
Using the grill to toast bread wastes a lot of energy into the surrounding air. Electric toasters are designed for the job and are much more efficient.
These can be great energy savers when compared to a conventional oven – but not always. You can find out more about the do’s and don’ts of microwave cookery here.