So far in the series, we have covered:
- To cook efficiently, heat must be transferred from the electric cooking element to the food with minimum loss to the surroundings. To help do this, select pots and pans with absolutely flat bottoms. Spherical bottoms leave an air gap that provides a ready escape route for heat.
- Expand your family’s menus to include stews and other single-dish meals that can be prepared in a slow cooker. Such meals require far less energy than those calling for the simultaneous use of the oven plus two or three surface units.
- Based on DOE data, typical gas cook-tops are 15.6 percent efficient, while electric coil cook-tops are 73.7 percent efficient, and electric smooth cook-tops are 74.2 percent efficient.
- Develop the habit of “lids-on” cooking. Tightly fitted lids help keep heat within pots and pans, permitting the use of lower temperature settings and shorter cooking times.
- Reflector pans beneath stove-top heating elements should be kept bright and clean. Shiny pans help to focus heat rays on utensil bottoms; dull or soiled pans absorb heat wastefully.
- Begin cooking on highest heat until liquid begins to boil. Then lower the heat control setting and allow food to simmer until fully cooked.
- Use your microwave oven whenever possible. Microwave ovens draw less than half the power of their conventional counterparts and cook for a much shorter period of time. For example, an item that needs to be cooked in a full-sized oven at 350° F for one hour will take only 15 minutes to cook in a microwave on the “high” setting.
- Rather than using the oven for preparing small quantities of food, consider cooking in small portable electric appliances such as a frying pan, grill, or toaster oven. On average, these use only about one-third of the electric power of an oven broiler.
- When operating an electric oven, attempt to cook as much of the meal in it at one time as possible. Foods with different cooking temperatures can often be cooked simultaneously at one temperature - variations of 25 degrees in either direction still produce good results and save energy.
- When preheating an oven for baking, time the preheat period carefully. Five to eight minutes should be sufficient. There is no need to preheat for broiling or roasting.
- Rearrange oven shelves before turning the oven on. To do this after the oven has preheated not only allows wasteful escape of heat, but poses a burn hazard as well.
- According to DOE data, standard gas ovens are 2.98 percent efficient. Electric ovens are 10.7 percent efficient. Microwave ovens are 55.7 percent efficient, or almost 19 times more efficient than gas ovens.
- When roasting or baking, avoid making frequent progress checks that involve opening the oven door. Each time the door is opened, a considerable portion of the oven’s heat escapes.