Curbing Your Consumption:
By John Ford
Outside of heating and cooling your home and hot water, the kitchen is
one of the largest potential users of electricity in the average
home. It makes sense to make sure your kitchen is as efficient as you
can make it. This is even more important when you get a smart meter
since your cooking is likely to fall into peak cost hours. Once again,
evaluating your use of elecgtricity in the kitchen could provide a
business case for converting some or all of your appliances to gas.
If you have an old refrigerator, that may be the first place to
start. My old fridge used an average of 130 wattts while the new one
uses 44 watts. At today's rates I'm saving $90 per year energy costs,
but that's also 86 watts of heat being kept out of the kitchen on hot
days. Cooling the kitchen down in the summer would take about 200
watts extra air conditioning with the old fridge. My grandparents had
what they called the summer kitchen which was a separate
uninsulated room on the back of the house. Some day we may return to
this concept to help keep things cool without energy.
Counter-top appliances are more efficient than using the stove or oven
because the heating element is contained within the appliance closer
to the food you are cooking. They also supply just the amount of
energy required, rather than the large element or oven volume. Maybe
some standards are needed so that appliances can plug in to the stove
to use the built-in controls and timers and keep the efficiencies.
You can optimise the cooking of pasta by starting with hot water from
the tap, bringing it to a boil, adding the pasta, and then turning off
the heat while it simmers. [A reader sent a note to say that
drinking from the hot water tank is not advised since it collects
unhealthy residue such as lead absorbed more by hot water from the
pipes.] It takes about three times the time to cook, but uses less
energy. You may have to experiment to see what works best for you.
Lighting in the kitchen needs to be targetted to work surfaces and
eating areas. Make sure all lamps can be individually controlled, and
give off just the amount of light required for the job. There's not
much efficiency lighting the kitchen with 1000 watts of halogen bulbs
at the wrong end of the counter.
Some sources suggest using the microwave is more efficient than the
stove for heating food, and better than an electric kettle for heating
water. This is not true in all cases. The megnetron which converts
electricity into microwaves is only about 50% efficient. The
efficiency of a microwave is realised by only heating the food and not
the container. When you compare with an electric kettle which is 100%
efficient, and the container is fairly well insulated, a microwave
uses double the power.
Update on current costs: The non-smart meter cost for Ottawa Hydro
customers is 11.002¢ per kWh for the first 579 kWhs per month,
and 12.000¢ after. Smart meter costs are 7.786¢,
11.667¢, and 14.885¢ for the three cost levels.
John Ford is a technology consultant, owner of a small energy
conservation business, and Energy Advocate for the Green Party of