Saving energy in the kitchen

G Magazine

Even if your souffles fall flat and your crepes are rubbery, you can at least be a good eco-chef with these energy saving tips for the kitchen.

power cooking

Actions as simple as putting a lid on this saucepan will help slash energy use in the kitchen.

Credit: everystockphoto

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You don't need to be Jamie Oliver to be a whiz in the kitchen. In fact, Jamie might be pukka when it comes to tucker, but no one said anything about his ability to save energy when he whips up a soufflé.

But being an eco-savvy chef can save you a lot in dollars when the bills start rolling in.

Each year, Australian households generate an estimated eight tonnes of greenhouse gas, and at least half a tonnes comes from the kitchen.

Each tonne of greenhouse gas we can avoid pumping out will save us between $130 and $470 depending on the type of energy used.

Garry Baverstock of Ecotect-Architects is a leader in the field of Ecologically Sustainable Design (ESD) principles, and says it's imperative homeowners start taking responsibility for themselves and jump onto the learning curve.

"Through this, they can operate their homes, monitor their lifestyle and habits, and make changes that deliver low energy bills and water use," he says. "With 7.5 million homes in Australia, we need to bring them into the 21st century by improving their energy efficiency to the correct level needed to assist the remediation of climate change."

As a lone ranger it's easy to be overwhelmed by the thought of how your individual actions can affect the environment, but some decisions have long-lasting effects. It comes down to your choices at the checkout, a decision that has the potential to influence greenhouse gas emissions for many years.

For example, according to Energy Australia, energy efficient whitegoods can save up to $1400 and prevent up to 14 tonnes of greenhouse gas from being emitted into the environment over a 10-year product lifespan. Not too shabby at all for flexing your consumer power muscles.

Ways to reduce energy use in the kitchen can be as simple as loading your dishwasher fully or keeping lids on pots and simmering gently rather than boiling rapidly.

Your 80s relic of a fridge can use three times the energy of new model, so opt for a top star rating energy label that can save you up to $450 over its lifetime. Or consider whether your trusty sidekick, the bar fridge, is an absolute necessity as it can set you back $200 a year in potential beer money.

Test that the seals on the fridge are airtight by closing the door over a piece of paper - if you can pull the paper out, they may need replacing. Refrigerators operate at peak efficiency when full, so choose so a model suitable for the size of your household. Defrost chest freezers at least once or twice a year and upright models twice or three times a year to maximise their efficiency.

As with all things property, fridges are all about location, location, location. Choose a cool spot out of the sun and away from ovens, with sufficient space (a minimum 80 mm gap) between the back of the fridge and the wall for ventilation of the coils.

Some people assume dishwashers are an eco no-no, but when used efficiently they use less water and often, less energy, than doing the dishes by hand (see this story for more detail).

Just make sure you choose an efficient model with a top star rating energy label. Fill it to capacity before each wash cycle and skip the drying cycle, leaving the door open to air-dry the dishes.

Cooking in a microwave, electric frypan or pressure cooker is far more energy- efficient than using your oven, and a fan-forced oven bakes significantly faster and uses less energy than a conventional oven. Gas stovetops are more efficient than convection cookers, which are, in turn, better than electric burners.

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