Your home gets a serious workout on Thanksgiving. While you may be packing on the pounds, your home is sweating from increased usage — more people coming in and out, and more ditigal devices to charge so everyone can keep up with their favorite football team and friends. Your home’s energy consumption can skyrocket, especially when the oven’s working non-stop and you’re pulling out kitchen gadgets to chop and puree.
Give your home a break, and don’t make it work so hard, which will also save you cash on energy bills. Try these tips:
A Few Days Before Thanksgiving
1. Install a dimmer switch for the dining room chandelier. Every time you dim a bulb’s brightness by 10%, you’ll double the bulb’s lifespan. Most CFLs don’t work with dimmers, but you can create mood lighting with incandescents and LEDs. The dimmer switch will cost you about $10.
2. Plan side dishes that can cook simultaneously with the turkey. If you cook dishes at the same temperature at the same time, you’ll reduce the amount of time the oven has to be running — it’s easier for the cook and saves energy, too.
When You Start Cooking
3. Lower your house thermostat a few degrees. The oven will keep the house warm. You also can turn on your ceiling fan so it sucks air up, distributing heat throughout the room.
4. Use ceramic or glass pans — you can turn down the oven’s temp by up to 25 degrees and get the same results. That’s because these materials retain heat so well, they’ll continue cooking food even after being removed from the oven.
5. Use your oven’s convection feature. When heated air is circulated around the food, it reduces the required temperature and cooking time. You’ll cut your energy use by about 20%.
6. Cook in the microwave whenever possible. Ditto slow cookers. Microwaves get the job done quickly, and although slow cookers take much longer, they still use less energy than the oven. Resist the urge to peek inside your slow cooker: Each time you remove the lid, it releases heat and can add about 25 minutes of cooking time to your dish.
7. Use lids on pots to retain heat. The food you’re cooking on the stovetop will heat up faster when you use lids.
When It’s Cleanup Time
8. Scrape plates instead of rinsing with hot water. Unless food is really caked on there, your dishwasher should get the dishes clean without a pre-rinse. Compost your non-meat food waste.
9. Use your dishwasher. It saves energy and water, so only hand-wash things that aren’t dishwasher-safe. Wait until you’ve got a full load before starting the dishwasher. Be sure to stop the appliance before the heated dry cycle; just open the door and let your dishes air-dry.