The smart kitchen
By making a few small changes, you can save money and the environment
The kitchen is the heart of the home. It's the room where you cook and consume your food, and converse with family and friends. However, it also uses more energy than any other room in your house.
Below we take a look at the ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your kitchen. Not only will these tips help you to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health but you can also save money too.
Beat boiler costs
The average Irish household spends approximately €2,700 on fuel, with boilers often accounting for up to half of their total fuel bill. The good news is that it is estimated that by getting your boiler serviced regularly you could save up to €150 annually on energy costs. And by replacing your current low efficiency boiler with a new high efficiency one you could cut your bills by 25 per cent.
Dial down the temperature
After central heating, the fridge is the biggest drain on a household's energy because it is switched on all the time. A good tip is to not keep your fridge too cold. Five degrees centigrade is thought to be the ideal temperature. If you set the temperature any lower, you are wasting energy.
Did you know that when frost builds up in your fridge or freezer, they will need more energy to run appropriately? To combat this it is recommended that you defrost your fridge and freezer every six months.
When cooking in an oven avoid opening the door. As much as 20 per cent of the heat from the oven escapes every time you do. And always cook on the top rack of the oven. By keeping your food closer to the heating element you can cut your cooking time by 20 per cent.
It is also a good idea to cook more than one dish at a time. Fill up your oven with a number of dishes that can be frozen and consumed at another time.
Put a lid on it
When cooking on a hob or a stove, always cover your pots and pans with lids. This way they will heat better and actually cook the food faster. Better still use a tiered steamer, it can enable you to cook your entire meal on one hob ring.
Don't waste water when you wash up
Research carried out by Christian Paul Richter between 2007 and 2008 on 200 households discovered that those with a dishwasher used an average of 28 per cent less energy and 50 per cent less water than households that didn't have one.
It is worth noting that this only holds true for households that only turn on the dishwasher when fully loaded. It is also a good idea to use the 'eco-setting' on your dishwasher if you have one as this uses less power to heat the water.
Upgrade your appliances
All major kitchen appliance products now have labels that rate them according to how efficiently they work - this includes dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens and microwaves. By replacing your current appliance with a more energy efficient model you could reduce your energy consumption significantly.
For example, a modern fridge uses 40 to 60 per cent less energy than models sold before 2000. By replacing your old model with a new one you will save money on energy costs.
Similarly, most people are unaware that the energy and water usage of washing machines vary greatly across models. Some washing machines will use six litres of water per kg while others use 14 litres of water per kg. According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, water conserving appliances can save 20 to 30 per cent water, and with impending water charges there is no better time to make that upgrade.