Thanksgiving is a time of festive cheer, to be enjoyed with family and friends in a spirit of fellowship. Unfortunately, there’s a dark side to this occasion as well. The increased energy expenditures and waste that come from extravagant celebrations can have a deleterious effect on the environment as well as your wallet. But by following a few simple tips, you can fully partake in the holiday season while still acting in an ecologically responsible and budget-conscious manner!
1. Set Your Thermostat
Make sure to adjust your thermostat to conserve energy. The combination of body heat from your guests and the cooking activities that you’ll undoubtedly be performing will serve to heat up your home by a few degrees. A failure to adjust for these factors could cost you extra money and make people feel a tad too warm and uncomfortable. If your thermostat is linked up to a smarthome hub, then it should be no problem to automatically adjust it along with your security system, lights and other automated home devices.
2. Optimize Oven Usage
When preparing food, remember that you can place more than one item in your oven at once. If you frequently prepare single dishes by themselves, you’ll be wasting energy by keeping your oven running for an extended period of time. When you add in the inefficiencies caused by the time spent warming up and cooling down, it’s easy to see why most energy experts recommend letting your oven do double or triple duty by cooking multiple dishes at the same time – of course, bear in mind this little trick only works if the temperatures required for the dishes vary by no more than 25 degrees.
3. Use Small Kitchen Appliances
Some of the savory plates you intend to serve your guests don’t require the powerful heating action offered by your oven, not to mention a toaster oven can use up to half the energy of an electric stove over the same amount of cooking time! Through the judicious use of toaster ovens, Crock-Pots, warming trays and other smaller-scale appliances, you can avoid wasting energy without affecting the quality or appearance of certain food items. This is especially true for leftovers that have already been cooked – you can warm them up effectively without having to turn your oven on at all.
4. Let Your Dishwasher Work for You
Modern dishwashers have been designed to consume little water and will be your best friend saving you hours of time and energy. By properly employing an Energy Star-compliant model after your repast is finished, you can save yourself many hours of hand-washing washing plates, cups and silverware, and you’ll be conserving water and electricity at the same time. Don’t run the dishwasher half-full: wait until you have a full load. And there’s no need to let your unit complete its dry cycle; you can open it up and let everything dry naturally through exposure to air.
5. Don’t Let Heat Escape
Cooking, in broad terms, simply involves the application of energy in the form of heat to foodstuffs. If you let this heat escape, then you’re just making your cooking appliances work extra-hard to regain the level of heat initially required. Place a lid on your stove-top creations so that they retain their temperatures, and effectively cutting down on cooking times. Remember that your oven door is essentially a lid too, so don’t open it up constantly to check on your food. Instead, it’s best to use an oven light and look through the window to determine when your food is ready.
6. Refrigerate Like a Pro
You can refrigerate your leftovers to keep them edible for a long time, but make sure your refrigerator is in fine shape first. If you close the refrigerator door on a dollar bill, you shouldn’t be able to pull it out easily. If you can, then your door needs adjustment. When storing foods in your refrigerator, let them cool down to room temperature first. And finally, try to keep the door shut as much as possible, but while in the process of loading food, consider doing it all at once as it’s preferable to leave it open longer rather than continually opening and closing it.
At Thanksgiving, we take the time to appreciate the wealth and plenty that have accrued to us throughout the year. But just because we have much to be thankful for, that’s still no reason for needless waste. Act smart by taking simple measures to cut back on your energy use, and you’ll be protecting Mother Nature and simultaneously reducing your already spiking holiday expenses!