Cooking Tips

  • If you need to purchase a gas oven or range, look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves gas-because a pilot light is not burning continuously.
  • In gas appliances, look for blue flames; yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed. Consult your manufacturer or your local utility.
  • Microwave ovens use around 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens; they're most efficient for small portions or defrosting. For large meals, stovetop cooking is usually more efficient.
  • Use your microwave as often as possible in the summer. You'll be more comfortable and save on air conditioning costs.
  • Use small electric pans or toaster ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
  • Use a covered kettle or pan to boil water; it's faster and it uses less energy.
  • With conventional ovens, minimize the preheating time. Unless you're baking breads or pastries, you may not even need to preheat.
  • Don't open the oven door too often when checking your food, especially if it's your prize recipe for a baking contest. Each time you open the door the oven temperature drops by 25°. Watch the clock or use a timer instead.
  • Turn off electric burners several minutes before the allotted cooking time. The heating element will stay hot long enough to finish cooking those eggs or favorite side dish without using more electricity. The same principle works with your oven cooking.
  • Check the seal on your oven door for wear. Even a small tear or gap can allow heat to wander away from your meal. A clean seal also provides better heat retention.
  • Cook with the oven door closed. A partially open door wastes energy, costs you money, and warms you instead of the food.
  • Make sure stovetop electric coils work properly. A worn-out element is a real power drain.
  • If you don't have one, consider buying a self-cleaning oven. They use less energy for normal cooking because of higher insulation levels. They also save on your rubber glove and cleanser purchases! However, if you use the self-cleaning feature more than once a month, you'll end up using more energy than you saved. When you clean the oven, do it right after cooking to take advantage of residual heat.
  • Stagger pans and baking sheets on upper and lower racks to improve airflow, and don't cover racks with foil. Food cooks more quickly and efficiently when heat circulates freely.
  • Use glass or ceramic pans in ovens. You can turn down the temperature about 25° and foods will cook just as quickly.
  • Even though they are like magnets for spills, keep stovetop reflectors clean. They will reflect heat better and save energy. If you need new ones, buy quality. The best on the market can save as much as 1/3 of the energy used with inferior reflectors.
  • 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 or found by the pan handle! A 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner will waste over 40 percent of the energy.
  • On electric stovetops, use flat-bottomed pans that make full contact with the element. A warped or rounded pan may be a conversation piece, but will waste most of the heat.
  • When cooking on a gas burner, use moderate flame settings to conserve natural gas.
  • Solid disk elements and radiant elements under glass stove tops are easier to clean than conventional electric coil elements, but they take longer to heat up and use more electricity.
  • Halogen elements and induction elements are more efficient than conventional electric coil elements, but you must use the proper cookware. Induction elements require that you use only iron or steel pots and pans-aluminum cookware will not work.