Gobble Up Energy Savings This Thanksgiving

Laura Oakleaf

As you prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday and all of the food preparation and entertaining that comes with it, we have compiled a few tips to help save you money and energy while you prepare your turkey dinner. Approximately 15 percent of energy used in the average American home is used in the kitchen—most of that energy is used during cooking and for powering kitchen appliances.

Here are some ways to save money and energy:

  1. Turn down the thermostat. Your guests and a hot oven means your home will be warmer.
  2. Re-think the way you prep the turkey. The most energy-efficient way to prep a frozen turkey is to thaw it in cold water, using the metric of 30 minutes of thawing per pound of turkey. Don’t thaw the turkey in the refrigerator because it forces the refrigerator to use a lot of extra energy it wouldn’t normally use.
  3. Check the oven temperature. Ovens can vary on how accurate their temperature settings are. Use a free standing oven thermometer to accurately measure the oven temperature. This will allow you to save energy that could be wasted by running your oven higher than necessary.
  4. Cook side dishes together. Research and coordinate the side dishes you can cook simultaneously or with the turkey to cut down on amount of time oven is being used.
  5. Use ceramic or glass pans. Using these types of pans can reduce the needed heat in the oven heat by 25 degrees as they hold heat in better.
  6. Got a convection oven? Use it! Use a convection oven, if you have one, as it works quicker and is more energy efficient than a conventional oven, using up to 20 percent less energy.
  7. Keep that oven door closed. Want to check on how your meal is cooking? Use the oven light. Each time the oven door is opened, the temperature drops and can be reduced by as much as 25 degrees. This uses more energy and delays your entire meal.
  8. Got a microwave? Use it! Just like the convection oven, use a microwave to cook side dishes because it cooks items faster and uses less than half the power of a regular oven. Or use a crockpot, toaster oven or warming plate—they all use much less energy than an oven.
  9. Pay attention to your stovetop. Resist the urge to put a small pot on a large burner. Approximately 40 percent of your stove’s energy is lost if you use a six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.  Also, make sure to use lids as it will keep heat in and shorten cooking times. If you have an electric range, keep your burners and reflectors clean. Check that your pans aren’t warped because that will delay the time it takes to heat the pans (and use more energy) because direct contact is needed.
  10. Let those leftovers chill outside the fridge. Once the meal has finished and it’s time to start the clean-up process, make sure all the hot foods and liquids are cooled before putting them in the fridge. The hot vapor from these items makes the fridge work harder than necessary. It is safe to wait up until two hours for this cooling to occur.
  11. Make sure that fridge closes. Do your refrigerator and freezer doors actually seal properly? This seal allows cold air from escaping and warm air from getting in. Test this by putting a piece of paper in between your refrigerator and freezer doors. If it easily falls out, that means it is lacking a solid seal. This can be fixed by adjusting the door hinge or replacing the gasket.
  12. Fully load the dishwasher. As the last step, make sure that the dishwasher is fully loaded before running it. Scrape the dishes, instead of rinsing them, to save both water and energy from the hot water heater.

These tips were compiled from Department of Energy, the Edison Electric Institute and Resnet.

Want to learn more about how you can save energy and money in your home all year round? Visit our website or contact Sarah Edwards at sarah.edwards@cookcountyil.gov for more information on free home energy efficiency and smart meter programs.