9 tips to cut energy costs when cooking

Picture of chicken chickpea and spinach soup in a slow cooker

Cut energy costs with a slow cooker

With gas and electricity bills shooting up, here are my quick tips to cut energy costs when cooking.

Wholesale gas prices have rocketed during the last year, making a slew of energy firms go bust. The energy price cap from October 1st went up a chunky 13%, and is likely to surge again next April. There aren’t even cheaper deals to switch to, which means many people coming off cheap fixes will end up paying way more.

I was particularly aware of energy costs when doing the State Pension challenge, trying to live on £179.60 for the week. I piled on the jumpers and resisted turning on the central heating. With a tight budget for food, I couldn’t eat out or rely on takeaways. I had to cook from scratch, while still trying to keep my energy bills down.

Our kitchens contain some of the most energy-guzzling appliances. Around a third of the average household’s electricity use goes on fridges and freezers plus cooking appliances such as your hob, oven, microwave, kettle and toaster, according to the Energy Saving Trust. That adds up to around 13% of the average household’s energy bill.

By reducing the amount of energy I use in the kitchen, I can therefore save money on my bills. Plus, it can help reduce damage to the environment.

Read on for my top tips to cut energy costs when cooking!

Previous post: Cheap ways to cut the cost of keeping warm

 

Picture of chicken and mushroom casserole in my slow cooker

Warming food for winter weather

Switch to a slow cooker

Foods such as soups, stews, casseroles, chillies and curries can all help you keep warm in cold weather. 

However, rather than firing up your hob or oven for hours, use a slow cooker instead. As I said in my November column for Woman&Home, using a fan assisted oven costs 46p an hour on average, compared with a tiny 3p an hour for a slow cooker, according to energy company Utilita.

Slow cookers also help make the most of cut price ingredients such as beans, pulses and cheap cuts of meat. Just remember to add less water than normal, as less evaporates in a slow cooker.

Put a lid on it

When you do use your hob, use saucepan lids. Heating something up? Put a lid on it. Cooking rice or pasta? Put a lid on it. That way, you’re not trying to heat up your whole kitchen. Choosing saucepans with glass lids helps keep an eye on the contents!

pIcture of plastic containers with extra portions

Hoarded portions from batch cooking

Benefit from batch cooking

If you are going to cook something, think about whether you can make a large amount, to avoid cooking multiple times.  

Even if you are cooking for one, you can divvy up portions to eat another time, creating your own home-made ready meals. Don’t fancy eating the same thing several days running? Bung some in the freezer.

Make the most of your microwave

Microwaves save energy because they only heat up the food itself, rather than the air around it. I use my microwave to zap portions from batch cooking, so I don’t have to use the hob. Just make sure your food is piping hot afterwards.

Picture of the home made nutty raisin bars when the budget didn't stretch to snacks

Needs must: bars made of oats, raisins, peanuts, butter & marmalade

Max out your oven 

If I do use my oven, I try to cook several things at the same time, rather than using it for a single baked potato.

So during the State Pension Challenge, when I heated the oven up for a chicken thigh traybake, I also shoved in a tray of roasted veg for another couple of meals. If the kids have chicken nuggets or fishfingers, I pop in wedges or roast potatoes, to avoid using the hob for boiled potatoes, rice or mash. I also managed to squeeze in some slightly suspect oaty raisin bars (technical term). 

Keep an eye on your kettle

Don’t get splash happy when filling your kettle. If you only want a cup of tea, just boil a cupful of water, rather than filling it to the brim. If you do end up with extra hot water, top up a thermos kept next to the kettle, to use for your next brew.

Picture of my spreadsheet queen mug

Making one cup of tea? Only boil a cupful of water

Defrost for free

Yes, I can defrost stuff speedily in a microwave. But that costs money.

Instead, I try to think about the next day’s meals just before going to bed, so I can get food out of the freezer the night before. I can then put it in the fridge to defrost safely overnight, without affecting my energy bills.

Clean the back of your fridge and freezer (carefully!)

Ever pulled your fridge or freezer away from the wall?

The coils at the back are part of the condenser that keeps them cold. If the coils get dirty, they become less efficient, so it’s worth cleaning off the dust and dirt every once in a while.

If you have a freezer that needs defrosting, make sure you defrost it regularly rather than letting it get shaggy with ice. This will also help cut its energy consumption.

Check the energy efficiency rating

If you are stuck with replacing stuff like your fridge, dishwasher or cooker, check their energy labels and try to choose appliances with high energy efficiency ratings. They may well cost more to buy, but will then keep your running costs down.  Think ‘A’ ratings and lots of ++++.

 

Now – over to you. What are your top tips to cut energy costs when cooking? Do share in the comments – I reckon we could all do with making some savings.

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3 Comments

  1. Chris
    6th October 2021 / 3:47 pm

    Hi, A slow cooker don’t really work for us as we eat at lunch time but I use a presure cooker or a Remoska. My tip is always do your veg in a steamer thus you are only heating on saucepan and gravy is made with the cooking water. I don’t use a saucepan lid but put the plates used for serving on the top thus warming the plates. Next keep all cooking appliances clean as it saves energy and makes them more efficient. Also at this time of year clean all your windows and lighting to maximise the light .

    • Faith
      Author
      12th October 2021 / 9:26 am

      Oooh yes good tip about steamer baskets. I have a trusty bamboo steamer basket I pop on top of the pan when cooking rice, pasta or potatoes.Makes the timing much easier to control too, as the water underneath is already boiling.
      I do actually often use my slow cooker for lunch time soup, if I shove stuff in before 8am can eat for lunch at 1pm.

  2. 8th October 2021 / 12:48 pm

    I thought it was just me using a flask for hot water! Lockdown/wfh had me horrified at the number of times I put the kettle on for a brew!

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