Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks and for cooking. Although the nation’s electric companies can't help you become a better cook, they can help you get more value from every dollar you spend on electricity. And that is something to be very thankful for, indeed.
It’s important to use electricity wisely year-round, but during Thanksgiving and the holiday season it becomes especially significant. More people are at home, using more appliances and electronics. This creates added demand for electricity.
Follow these 10 easy tips to help ensure you have an energy-efficient Thanksgiving:
- Check your refrigerator’s door gaskets to be sure that they seal tightly. This will keep the cold air in and the warm air out. To check the condition of the gasket, place a dollar bill against the frame and close the door. If the bill can be pulled out with a very gentle tug or, worse, simply drops out on its own, the door requires adjustment, or the gasket needs replacing.
- Allow hot foods or liquids to cool off before placing them in the refrigerator. The cooling off will reduce the load on the refrigerator.
- Use the “lids-on” approach to cooking. Tightly fitted lids help keep heat within pots and pans, permitting the use of lower temperature settings and shorter cooking times.
- Always cook on highest heat until liquid begins to boil. Then lower the heat control setting and allow food to simmer until fully cooked.
- Use the microwave whenever possible. Microwave ovens draw less than half the power of a regular oven, and they cook for a much shorter period of time. For example, an item that needs an hour in a full-sized oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit will take only 15 minutes to cook in a microwave on the “high” setting.
- When preheating a regular oven, time the preheat period carefully. Five to eight minutes should be sufficient. There is no need to preheat for broiling or roasting.
- When using an electric oven, 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 Fahrenheit in either direction still produce good results and save energy.
- If a large group of people is expected for the dinner, lower your home's thermostat a degree or two before the guests arrive. Otherwise, the house may become too warm, which wastes electricity.
- After the feast, never put leftovers in a second refrigerator in the garage. In the winter months, frozen foods may melt (as the temperature sensor in the refrigerator will not activate the compressor if the temperature in the garage is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower). In the summer months, the temperature in the garage can easily exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the refrigerator has to work extra hard to keep food cold. If a second refrigerator is needed, place it in the basement or other insulated area of the home.
- Finally, when all the cooking is done, don’t use the oven’s self-cleaning cycle unless a major cleaning job is needed. When the oven’s self-clean feature is used, start the cycle right after cooking, while the oven is still hot, or wait until late evening hours when use of electricity is lowest.
For tips to save electricity year-round, please visit www.eei.org/wiseuse.