Don't open the oven door to take a peek at what's cooking inside. Instead, turn on the oven light and check the cooking status through the oven window. Opening the oven door lowers the temperature inside - by as much as 25 degrees - which increases cooking time and wastes energy. As long as your oven is on, cook several items at the same time. Just make sure you leave enough room for the heat to circulate around each casserole and pie plate.
When cooking on top of your range match the size of the pan to the heating element. More heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air. Believe it or not, a six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner will waste more than 40 percent of the energy!
In addition to your stove, your refrigerator and freezer also get a real workout over the holidays. While newer refrigerators are much more energy efficient than older ones, they remain one of the largest energy consumers in your house, often accounting for as much as 15 percent of your home's total energy usage. Help your refrigerator and freezer operate efficiently and economically by keeping the doors closed as much as possible so the cold air doesn't escape. However, leaving the door open for a longer period of time while you take out the items you need is more efficient than opening and closing it several times.
One simple, fun, and cost-effective way to save energy at holiday time is to gather everyone together in the kitchen and wash and dry your dishes by hand. But don't keep a steady stream of hot water flowing, or you'll waste more energy than you'll save. According to research, a load of dishes cleaned in a dishwasher requires 37 percent less water than washing dishes by hand. However, if you fill the wash and rinse basins instead of letting the water run, you'll use half as much water as a dishwasher.
If you opt to use the dishwasher, wash full loads only. If you must rinse your dishes before loading them, use only cold water so you're not running up your energy bill by heating water unnecessarily.
Don't forget to use the energy-saving cycles whenever possible. Dishwashers that feature air power or overnight dry settings can save up to 10 percent of your dishwashing energy costs.
Saving energy in the kitchen is a habit you should practice all year long. Throughout the holiday season and into the New Year, you'll watch your energy bills drop even as you use less of our precious energy resources - just one more thing to be thankful for this holiday season.