The holiday season is time for giving thanks, family gatherings… and excessive energy use. If you’re wondering how you can keep your energy bills low this holiday season, we’ve got some tips for you. Here’s our favorite energy savings tips for this Thanksgiving and all the holidays to follow.
Let’s start off with some tips for all that cooking you’re about to do. We know being in the kitchen all day will keep those energy bills high, so let’s go through some of the best things you can do to maximize your energy use these holidays.
Let’s get cooking!
Thanksgiving Cooking Energy Savings Tips
Upgrade your kitchen.
The first thing to consider before the holidays come around is the tools you’ll be using in your kitchen. Let’s start with the large energy-sucking appliances like the stove, refrigerator and dishwasher. Using EnergyStar appliances can reduce your energy use by around 10-15%, and even more if you’re replacing old appliances. Using a convection oven will reduce overall cooking time and save energy around 20%. According to Seattle Climate Action, an energy efficient combi-oven saves about 12,450 kilowatt-hours (kWh), reducing your electric bill by $623 a year. Also, an energy efficient convection oven saves about 1,560 kWh, reducing your bill by $78 a year. While these appliances may be more of an investment upfront, they’re wise investments in the long run. And just look at this stat that helps to reduce greenhouse gases.
“Replacing one standard convection oven with an approved efficient model will keep about 2,060 pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere annually.”
Diversify your cooking.
You can also invest in alternate ways of cooking by using a slow cooker, grill, air fryer or microwave oven. Alternate devices can be a lot less expensive to run. For example, an electric oven uses between 2 and 5 kWh per hour. Compare this to a microwave oven that uses around 1.2 kWh per hour. A slow cooker uses around 1.7 kWh total to cook a meal, which is around 21 cents for 10 full hours of cooking! That’s enough incentive to make all your side dishes this year in the slow cooker!
Only open your oven door sparingly to baste the turkey. Every time you open the door, you decrease the temperature by around 25-50 degrees. Polish up the window and turn on the oven light to check out your food instead. Same goes for your slow cooker: you’ll increase the amount of cooking time significantly every time you take a peek.
Make a game plan.
You can save a lot by planning out the meals and deciding which items to cook in each appliance (grill, microwave, slow cooker). Also, plan side dishes that can be cooked along with the turkey in the oven, reducing the overall amount of time your oven will be on.
Elevate your cooking pans.
By using ceramic or glass pans, you can actually turn the temperature of your oven down by around 25 degrees. Ceramic and glass pans retain heat exceptionally well. They will also continue cooking the food after being removed from the oven- another thing to consider when determining the overall time your oven will be on. Also look for high-grade steel for your baking pans, which retain heat better and therefore cook food faster. And while we’re talking about your pans, don’t forget to shut the lids! Using the lids to your pots retains heat and reduces the overall cooking time.
Depending on what you’re cooking, it may be possible to avoid preheating the oven. For example, if you’re slow roasting meat below 310 degrees, you can skip preheating. Here’s when you should and shouldn’t preheat your oven. Also make sure to use a timer- your food will be more precisely cooked and your oven won’t be on for any longer than it needs to. In fact, most of the time you can snap off your oven a few minutes before the timer goes off since it will stay hot enough to continue cooking.
Make sure to buy only the size turkey you will need for the size of the group you’ll be cooking for. We know you like to follow your mother’s recipe, but cooking the stuffing separately will reduce the amount of time the turkey needs to cook.
Close the fridge!
Stop guests from opening your refrigerator door every few minutes by keeping items like drinks and condiments in a cooler. Not only does this save energy, but it also saves space in your refrigerator for all those massive food items like turkey and leftover containers. If you move the cooler to the dining room, it also reduces foot traffic to the kitchen while the cooks are doing their thing.
Cleanup on savings.
When it’s time for kitchen cleanup, make sure to scrape plates instead of using hot water to remove excess food. Also use your dishwasher, as it saves energy, water and money. Run dishes as soon as possible before food has time to set in and only run full loads. Stop the cycle before the heated dry and open the door to let your dishes air dry while you sleep off all that delicious food.
Holiday home energy savings tips
Here’s a few more extra energy savings tips to help your wallet get through this holiday season.
Use the kitchen’s heat.
On the days you’ll be cooking a lot, make sure to lower the thermostat a few degrees. All the heat from the kitchen will warm up the house in no time. Turn your ceiling fans on, if you have them, to distribute the heat throughout your home evenly.
Install a dimmer switch for any rooms guests will be in. Not only will dimming the lights a bit set a better mood, it will also save energy and extend the life of the bulb. In fact, according to some sources, dimmer switches could save around 40% of your electricity use over time. Don’t forget to switch out your light bulbs to LED lightbulbs, which are safer, save energy and last longer than conventional light bulbs. If you’re lighting up your home with holiday lights, look for LED versions which can be a larger upfront investment, but they will last for many holidays to come.
Buy a new TV.
Yes, go tell your spouse, you heard right. An LED TV is around 20-25% more efficient than an LCD or plasma TV. From football games to holiday movies, you can keep your guests thoroughly entertained and keep your energy costs to a minimum by upgrading your TV.
Try solar energy instead.
Switching to solar energy for your home can save you a ton on your electric bills (see how it zeroed out this homeowner’s bills). If you want to know all the benefits of switching to solar energy, you can speak with an experienced Solar Energy Specialist and they can answer all your questions.