10 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Cooking and Save Energy

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This article is part of series on saving money on electricity around the home.

reduce the cost of cooking
Reduce the cost of cooking. Image by simpson33 @ Depositphotos.com

I’ve written a lot about saving money on food. Today’s post covers saving money on the energy used to cook food at home.

Compared to eating out or takeaway,  it’s still cheaper to cook at home, even when factoring in the cost of electricity. The energy used when cooking very small.

On average, we’re talking about 20 cents of electricity per day, assuming an overall daily average of 20kWh @ 26 cents per kilowatt.

Still, that adds up to $73 a year, and that’s on top of all the other ways we consume electricity, so it pays to cook efficiently and save.

Some of the tips that follow will not only save you money on electricity, they will also save you time in the kitchen while you save you money on the groceries.

10 ways to reduce the cost of cooking

  1. Batch cook meals. This not only saves energy but time as well. It doesn’t take much more energy to cook a double or triple serving of casserole, for instance; you can freeze the leftovers into meal-size portions to reheat (which will use less energy) another day.
  2. Use the smallest pot practical and use as little water as possible when cooking food. This will speed up cooking time, saving you energy, as well as reducing your water waste.
  3. Match it to the right size burner. The pot should cover the entire hotplate to minimise heat loss.
  4. Cook with a lid on the pot. This will reduce heat loss which means you can set the stove at a lower heat to simmer, water will come to the boil quicker, and cooking times can be reduced.
  5. Multi-task the oven. If you plan to cook in the oven, consider doing some baking for snacks and lunchboxes at the same time.
  6. Consider whether you really need to pre-heat the oven. Some dishes don’t require a pre-heated oven, like vegetables, meats, roasts and casseroles.
  7. Defrost food before cooking. Cooking frozen food will take longer and use more energy. Defrost food on the bench top (I know, you’re not supposed to for food safety reasons) or in the fridge rather than in the microwave.
  8. Turn off the oven or electric burner for the last part of the cooking time and use the residual heat to finish the cooking.
  9. Make the most of the small appliances you have: a microwave can be more energy efficient than using a stove (but I have to admit, we don’t own a microwave). My mother has had a turbo-oven for over 20 years now, and it uses a lot less electricity than a conventional oven.
  10. Use the grill/broiler instead of the oven. Some foods can be cooked under the griller just as well as in the oven. For instance, browning the top of a tuna mornay is quicker and the results are better under the grill.
  11. Eat more raw food like salads. It’s healthy, quick and easy and saves money on cooking. Cold food like sandwiches and cold leftovers will also reduce cooking costs.
  12. Eat more quick-cook meals. A stir-fry is a good example of a meal that cooks in a matter of minutes. Also, when cooking vegetables, no matter what the cooking method, cook them for as little time as suits your tastes. The bonus: the less you cook them, the healthier they are.
  13. Use the BBQ. Particularly in summer, using the BBQ instead of cooking inside can also save on cooling costs because you’re not heating your home.
  14. Use a timer, so that you’re not opening the oven door too often, which will cause heat loss and use up more electricity to maintain the correct temperature.
  15. Check the oven’s hinges and seals to make sure they are in good repair and the oven seals well.
  16. Replace damaged coils on the stovetop.
  17. Keep the reflectors beneath stovetop coils clean.
  18. If you’re in the market for a new stove, consider gas (if you have a gas connection) as it is cheaper to run. Alternatively, induction cooktops are an energy-efficient electric option.
  19. A fan-forced oven uses around 20% less energy than a regular oven.
  20. Consider building or investing in a solar oven. These will allow you to cook meals using almost no electricity. As long as there’s the sun, these are a great option for everyday cooking as well as camping or when the power is out. An alternative is thermal cooking in a haybox oven or similar thermal cooker / insulated oven. Food needs to be brought to the boil initially, and then it slow cooks in the insulated oven.

What are your tips for saving money on electricity when cooking?

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  1. At my old apartment we had an ancient oven which had a gap of about 4cm between the door and the oven, even when it was closed. The landlord finally replaced it after we’d been there a year and I couldn’t believe how much our power bills went down.

    Now in my new place I have a toaster oven, which is a great size for one person and doesn’t take long to heat up. It’s not so great for batch cooking though!

    1. Melissa Goodwin says:

      Thanks for sharing about your oven door. It’s good to see how the ‘theory’ actually makes a difference in practice!

      Do you have a slow cooker for batch cooking? A toaster oven is a great size for cooking for one!

  2. We have the solid type hot plates. I try to remember to turn them off early and cook on residual heat. I know you have mentioned this but it is amazing how much heat there is there. I also use lids on pots when bringing things to the boil. I like to use the convection microwave for small reheating jobs. When boiling the kettle boil enough. Why heat extra although I do know some who make tea or coffee once in the day and store the rest in a thermos type flask.

    1. Melissa Goodwin says:

      Great tips Suzan, thanks! I agree with the kettle, my dad used to insist on filling it right to the top every time, just for one cuppa. I occasionally use a thermos if I remember. If I get up early in the morning for a cup of tea, the noise of the kettle can wake the kids (which defeats the purpose of getting up early lol). The thermos means I can enjoy a cup of tea in the wee hours in peace and quiet.

    2. a rental property that we used to have had the solid hotplates, I would tell the tenants to either turn them off near the end of the cooking time as suggested here or to put saucepans of water on when finished – would heat up water for doing the dishes fairly quickly.

      1. Melissa Goodwin says:

        That’s a great idea for heating water!!