Don’t let social distancing get the best of your energy budget! These are some tried-and-true ways to save energy that are extra relevant while you’re quarantined at home. Whether it’s just you or your whole family, there are a lot more meals happening in our own kitchens than ever before.
1. Use your dishwasher.
We are using WAY MORE dishes at our house right now. Using a dishwasher instead of washing by hand reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50%. This can be a heated debate in many families so if you want a bit more info, you can get a summary of a recent study in this story.
2. Scrape. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes.
Now that we’re using the dishwasher more often, let’s do it right. Rinsing your dishes uses more water and energy—enough to really add up over the lifetime of your dishwasher. Not rinsing can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3%. Modern dishwashers and detergents are meant to attach to the little bits of food left on the dishes to work properly.
3. Turn off the dry cycle on your dishwasher.
Now that you’re using your dishwasher, let’s take it one step further and make this action save even more energy. Turning off the dry cycle on your dishwasher alone can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 11%. We just open up the door, pull out the racks and let them air dry (after our toddler has gone to bed otherwise the clean dishes end up all over the living room floor).
4. Cook smart.
This could probably be a post all on its own, but here are a few of my personal favorites:
- Get creative and try to use the oven for a few things while it’s on or even use the same pot! If I have managed to plan ahead, I roast veggies for tomorrow’s recipe while making dinner tonight. I love this butternut squash macaroni and cheese recipe that has you boil some veggies in the same water that you then make your pasta in.
- Turn off the burner or the oven a few minutes early. This obviously won’t work for all recipes, but those few minutes per session really start to add up over the course of a month.
- Only boil as much water as you need. Your habits can be as important in reducing the amount of energy used to boil water as what device you’re using to do the task. So when you’re going to make that next cup of tea, make sure you only boil enough to go in your mug.
5. Turn down your water heater.
You’re washing your hands more than you ever have in your life, making more meals in your kitchen than you ever dreamed possible (we know your dishes are going in the dishwasher, but you still have lots of other odds and ends!), and hiding away in the steamy shower to escape your kids and partners for a few minutes. All-in-all, you’re probably using a ton of hot water right now. Make sure that you’re not making your water heater work overtime with settings that are too high. 120 degrees is the recommended temperature. The higher the temperature of the water in the tank, the greater difference with the surrounding temperature, and thus, the greater the heat loss. You can Google specific instructions for your water heater. Or you can find general YouTube tutorials for electric waters here and gas water heaters here.