In the modern, high-tech world, it’s easy to become immersed with technology and the promise to change one’s lifestyle. In 1001 Energy Tips: Save Energy, Save Money – Save Planet Earth, “BTU Bill” Clark compiles simple, easy ways to save energy at home, at work, on the road, and in every aspect of daily life. Accompanied by scientific explanations, the energy-saving tips leave readers with a lot to think about, and even to possibly implement in their lives.
“BTU Bill” Clark is a licensed Professional Engineer. His energy tips began with a spot on a local AM radio station. He has published two textbooks with McGraw-Hill, Retrofitting for Energy Conservation, and Electrical Design Guide for Commercial Buildings, and numerous tech papers.
Targeted Age Group:: adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Energy conservation is my life passion as an engineer and as a human being.
There’s a lot of technology in the modern kitchen: appliances, ventilation, hot water, and lighting. It’s a good place to start because there are many ways to save energy, and very few involve the HVAC system (which is the most challenging area to understand). The “energy tips” are separated by appliance, beginning with a selection on the kitchen overall. From the experts:
2.1 COOKING IN GENERAL
In the heat of the summer, cook and bake in the evening so the house has all night to cool off. Or just serve salad, fruit, and iced tea for supper.
Use only as much water in a pan as you need to cover what you’re cooking.
A warped or rounded pan that doesn’t make full contact with the stove burner element wastes most of that heat.
Match the pan to the burner size. A six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner wastes almost half of the energy.
Cut large items into smaller pieces, and they cook faster.
Use a double boiler for cooking vegetables (then to keep them warm).
Use lids to keep the heat in pans (unless a recipe advises you otherwise).
Place crockpots and portable pressure cookers outside in the summer to save on AC costs and to keep that humidity out of the house.
When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink with an inch or two of soapy water and the other with rinse water. If you have a farmer’s sink (one big sink with no divider), use two plastic tubs.
Put a pan on the stove burner before turning it on.
Cooking with a high gas flame is the main reason why pans turn black on the bottom.
A solar kettle is a thermos-size bottle that you put on a windowsill. It uses direct sunlight to heat water up to boiling! It’s great for campers, or a free cup of hot java at a winter sports event.
Electric burners keep radiating heat for a few minutes after you turn them off.
Clean the burner pan—the metal bowl that sits under a burner to catch spills—because blackened burners absorb more heat. Keep them clean and shiny so they reflect heat upward toward the cookware.
You don’t need to rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Just scrape off any food and liquids. If you aren’t running the dishwasher right away, rinse dishes thoroughly (with cold water) so nothing cakes on.
If you wash dishes by hand using the two-tub method, well, newer dishwashers may use only two gallons of water. Can you do better than that?
Plug up the kitchen sink and open the hot water tap. By the time the water is good and hot, there are three gallons of water in the sink. That’s three gallons of water going down the drain.
In warm weather, rinse out pots and pans right away to cool them down so they don’t release heat and humidity into the house. Let them air cool in the winter when heat and moisture are beneficial.
Collect all that cold water that literally “goes down the drain” while waiting for hot water. Save it in a pot or bucket and use it to water plants, to change out the pet’s water (cats love fresh water), for ice cubes, to top off the aquarium, or toss it out the door into the yard, garden, or flowerbed.
The microwave is the most efficient way to reheat food and leftovers. It’s not suitable for thawing foods, however.
Microwaves are more efficient than a convection or conventional oven.
It doesn’t take nearly as much energy to reheat food as to cook it, so cook double portions and have leftovers.
Match the size of your oven to the job: full-size oven for a roast or turkey, microwave, or tabletop convection oven for smaller portions.
Moisture or sweat on the oven door may indicate a tear or crack in the door gasket, which wastes a lot of energy from escaped heat.
Use glass or ceramic (versus metal) dishes in the oven. You can set the heat lower because they’re so efficient.
Turn the oven off ten minutes before it’s finished cooking.
Crack open a window when using a gas oven. Gas burners extract oxygen from the air as part of the combustion process.
Cook outside when you can. Keep all that heat, smoke, and grease out of the house. Many people like to barbeque outside. I deep-fry outside. All that vaporized grease doesn’t muck up the stove and the kitchen. It’s a great way to keep all that cooking heat out of the house and far away from the AC unit’s cooling coils.
Bake several items in the oven to save on per-item cooking costs.
Use a countertop toaster oven for small cooking jobs. Spend a little more for a quality unit with a timer and temperature control. My toaster oven browns better than the big, stove oven.
Use the self-cleaning feature on the oven right after you’ve cooked something in the oven because it’s already hot and doesn’t have to heat all the way from room temperature.
Don’t use the self-cleaning oven feature very often (it uses a lot of power), and run the exhaust fan when you do to exit any fumes.
I suppose the converse applies: cook in the oven after the self-cleaning cycle because it’s already hot.
Keep the oven preheat time to a bare minimum. You may not need to preheat at all, except with bread and pastries.
Self-cleaning ovens are more energy-efficient because they have more insulation in the back and sides (the self-clean mode gets very hot).
If you like to peek into the oven while cooking, get an oven with a window in the door and a light inside.
Convection ovens use 20 percent less energy than regular ovens because the air circulates continuously inside, and you get better heat distribution (and sometimes faster cooking time).
Defrost a freezer whenever there is more than ¼” of ice buildup. Turn off the freezer first, then place pots of hot water to loosen the ice. Don’t use anything sharp to scrape the ice off.
Allow at least one inch of space on all sides of a refrigerator or freezer for airflow.
Unclutter the top and sides (great spot to slide baking sheets or a pizza pan) of the refrigerator to allow air movement.
Freshness extenders absorb ethylene gas in the crisp drawer to keep fruit and vegetables fresh longer and cut down on waste.
Recycle your old refrigerator. (They’ll probably put a new, efficient compressor in, refurbish all the gaskets—hey, why not do that stuff and keep it for a few more years?)
Label items in storage containers in the fridge so you don’t have to stand there with the door open to find what you’re looking for.
Cover foods, and especially liquids, placed in the refrigerator to keep the moisture in. It’s better for the foods, and the refrigerator doesn’t have to work extra hard to extract that humidity from the air.
Many refrigerators have a small heater built into the outer walls to keep moisture from condensing. See if you can turn that feature off via an energy- or powersaving switch. Keep an eye out if you do, in case there’s condensation.
If your refrigerator is near a heat source—sunlight, the stove, the dishwasher— boost efficiency by relocating the fridge to a cool, shady location.
It’s usually less expensive to buy one big refrigerator than to keep your old one for extra storage and buy a second, smaller fridge because the old one is probably a real energy hog.
Set the refrigerator and freezer at recommended temperature settings: 40°F and 0°F, respectively.
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