For many, the kitchen is the most popular room in the house and the heart of the home. Maybe it’s because we are focused on cooking dinner, grabbing that last slice of cake or making an epic sandwich, but energy efficiency is not usually top of mind when we walk into our kitchens.
But the kitchen is often the room in which we consume the most energy. Studies even show that we could save 10 to 30 percent on our energy bills each year by improving the efficiency of our homes and at work.
From fixtures to appliances, small changes in the kitchen can help you save energy. Here are a few favorites that we can pursue:
- It may be convenient to store extra food, but avoid putting your freezer in a hot garage. Temperatures can soar well past 90° F, especially in hotter climates like Texas, and that extra heat can cause the unit to use more electricity.
- Practice cooking more efficiently. Using a small pan on a large burner can waste almost 50 percent of the heat produced by the burner. And if you prepare meals on a gas cooktop, be on the lookout for a blue flame; a yellow one can indicate the burner is not operating at maximum efficiency.
- When it’s time for kitchen clean-up, make sure the dishwasher is full, but don’t overload it. Going back and re-washing dishes that didn’t get clean only increases energy usage. And if you feel the need to soak or pre-wash your dishes, save it for those with burned-on or dried-on foods.
- Traditional incandescent lights generate extra heat, so open the blinds on your kitchen windows to take full advantage of the natural light flowing through them. Caulking and weather-stripping around windows to prevent heat and air from escaping helps maintain the desired temperature in your home year-round.
Another delicious way I’ve found that contributes to energy cost savings? Giving the oven a night off! Texas summers can give anyone (including yours truly) a good reason to stay out of the kitchen, so indulge in some “cool” dishes for the entire family to enjoy. These are some easy favorites:
- Yummy no-bake cinnamon rolls for kids. Easy enough for the kids to make and a sweet way to get the morning going.
- Chicken and guacamole tostadas. A quick and easy lunch or dinner option, these tasty tostadas pack a lot of flavor with just a few spices and veggies.
- Turkey Waldorf pockets. Not only are these tasty pita pockets easy to prepare, but they are healthy as well.
- Strawberry-pretzel ice cream pie. The perfect combination of salty and sweet come together for a summer dessert anyone can love.
The kitchen is just the beginning! Find even more ways to not only cut down on energy costs all over your home, but also help build the energy-saving habits needed to protect and sustain our environment on the Reliant website.
Elizabeth Killinger is president of NRG Texas Retail and Reliant.
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