Summer's here, the weather's hot, and it's the perfect time of year to gather with family and friends for a shared meal and a little summer sun. It's also the time of year when energy bills can skyrocket — and unfortunately, the kitchen is one of the most energy-intensive rooms in the house.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to save energy and reduce your monthly electricity bill this summer without compromising on the good times. Here are seven simple summertime tips to save energy (and money) in the kitchen.
As the name suggests, a no-energy meal is one where no energy-consuming appliances are required to prepare it. These meals are a great way to cut back on energy consumption in the kitchen and have the added benefit of ensuring you're not using the oven, which can contribute additional heat to your home during the summer months.
There are tons of delicious no-energy meals you can add to your summer recipe arsenal, but to get you started, here are a few of our favorites for you to bookmark and try:
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While no-energy meals are, by default, the *most* energy conscious as far as appliances are concerned, it doesn't mean you have to go entirely appliance-free to reduce your usage. Instead, consider recipes that prioritize more energy-friendly appliances. For instance, try roasting veggies on a charcoal grill instead of roasting them in the oven!
Toasters, microwaves, air fryers and slow cookers also use substantially less energy than a traditional oven — and generate much less heat too! So opting to prep your meals with these appliances during the summer is an easy way to reduce your impact.
Preparing your meals in advance can help save energy (and money) in a couple of ways. It offers the opportunity to use your kitchen appliances (*cough cough* like the oven) more efficiently by cooking multiple dishes at once and aids in a more efficient grocery shop by reducing food waste and allowing you to think more strategically about making the most of your ingredients.
This reduction in food waste also contributes to broader energy savings when you consider food production and disposal on a global scale, which, according to the World Wildlife Fund, equates to 6-8% of total human greenhouse gas emissions today!
When you think of energy savings in the kitchen, cooking is always the first consideration (something illustrated in our first few tips), but the opportunities to save go beyond meal prep.
For instance, LED light bulbs use significantly less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs (almost three times less, to be exact) and last much longer (up to 25,000 hours) — so making the swap to LED light bulbs in your kitchen means less energy used overall and less replacements in the long run. Good news for the planet and your wallet!
Plus, as a summer bonus, they produce less heat too, which can save your air-conditioning from doing unnecessary extra work.
You may not suspect it, but the heated-dry cycle on your dishwasher can be another unsuspecting contributor to unwanted heat in the kitchen, and opting to air dry is a simple way to help keep things cool while saving energy in the process.
On average, the heated dry cycle on your dishwasher can use up to 15% more energy than air drying or room-temperature drying — so that little bit of extra time may equate to some notable savings on your monthly energy bill. A fair trade if you ask us!
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the optimal refrigerator temperature is between 35 and 38° F, and keeping your fridge full (but not overfull) can be hugely helpful in preventing your fridge from working harder than it needs to to regulate temperature. If necessary, consider adding canned or bottled drinks to fill the extra room and keep things running efficiently.
You can also check for air leaks by placing a dollar bill or strip of paper, half-in, half-out, of your fridge and closing the door. If the paper pulls out easily, your seal may not be airtight, causing cool air to get lost as it leaks out of the fridge into your kitchen. Not exactly energy-efficient!
But what do you do if you have a leaky fridge? It could mean a simple fix, like adjusting the latch or replacing the seal, or it could mean looking for a replacement. The good news is, investing in energy-efficient appliances can save you money in the long run, and their impact goes way beyond the summer months.
Keep your eyes out for appliances with the ENERGY STAR label, which indicates they meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set forward by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the U.S. Department of Energy. To give you an idea of what that means, qualifying ENERGY STAR refrigerators run at least 15% more efficiently than a standard minimum efficiency fridge!
And the even better news? You may also be able to claim your energy-efficient upgrades on next year's income taxes! Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), homeowners and renters can now claim 30% of qualifying home appliance purchases (up to a value of $600) on their annual taxes between now and 2032.
This credit, which reduces your amount of taxes owing, is part of a more significant push by the federal government to incentivize consumers towards investing in energy-efficient upgrades from renewable energy sources to electric vehicles. You can read more about the available tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act in our blog post here.
You've prepped the meals, enjoyed a dinner al fresco with the family, and your dishes are air-drying by the sink — so, what's next?
Why not get rewarded for your energy-saving efforts too?
As a free OhmConnect member, you can earn rewards simply by cutting back your energy consumption habits! Here's how it works.
OhmConnect will send you a text or email when electrical demand spikes in your neighborhood, inviting you to take action. These energy-saving events (called OhmHours) are your cue to power down as many of your home's devices as possible and save. By participating, you'll earn points (called Watts) that can be traded in for prizes, gift cards and cash right back into your wallet!
If it sounds too good to be true, we promise it's not. OhmConnect simply takes the electricity you save and sells it back to the grid, sharing those profits with you — easy!
If you're not already a member, click here to find out more and sign-up today.