The humble oven isn’t often the subject of scrutiny when we think about energy efficiency, but it’s just like any household appliance in that it chews through a fair amount of power. But how much energy it uses is really up to you.
If your energy bills are a little too big for your liking and you’re looking for places to trim the fat, changing the way you use your oven could seriously save you some money. Here are some helpful tips:
Use your oven’s fan
Most modern ovens allow you to choose between standard or fan-forced heating, and the latter is definitely a better choice if you’re looking to use less energy. Using fan-forced heating allows you to set your oven at a lower temperature, which uses less energy from the get-go. Along with this, using fan-forced heating generally cooks your food faster than static heating, which means you use your oven for less time, which again means less energy.
Some of the more fancy ovens being sold these days come with touch screens and internet capabilities. But do you really need a smart oven? An oven is a metal box that you put food inside to cook, and it’s as simple as that. We understand the allure of flashy features, but you should consider whether or not they actually make the oven any better at doing its job. If the answer is no, your fancy oven will just be costing you more money, both by adding to the purchase price and by using more electricity every time you use them.
Forget about pre-heating
With the exception of something tricky like a soufflé, or baked goods which require exact attention to detail, most things you’re going to cook in an oven won’t be too delicate. It’s not tricky to cook meat and vegetables – you just need to get them to a certain temperature and then make sure they don’t burn. With that in mind, make sure that things are going into your oven as soon as it’s turned on. Leaving your oven empty as it pre-heats is a waste of both time and energy, when you could be making use of your oven’s pre-heat time to get a head-start on cooking your food.
If you’re waiting for your oven to heat up (ignoring the last hint in the process), make sure you put your food in the oven as soon as it’s pre-heated, and turn off the oven as soon as you’re done using it. To do otherwise would mean running your oven for longer than is necessary, which is a waste of energy and your money. You could even try turning off your oven before your food is done, and let the residual heat finish the job, which would save you even more money.
A watched pot never boils, and the same goes for food in an oven. If you’re constantly opening the oven door to check on your food, you’re wasting heat, energy, and your own time. Opening the door releases heat, which reduces the temperature in the oven by up to 14°C; meaning that it now has to use more energy to get back up to the set level. This also means that your food takes longer to cook, so it’s a lose-lose situation for ye of little patience. Just let your food cook for the prescribed amount of time, and then check to see whether it’s cooked or not.
Know when to use the microwave
If you want to reheat last night’s meal, ignore the oven. Using your microwave instead will use up to 80% less energy, which is a huge difference. So unless you’re dealing with something that will end up soggy if zapped in the microwave, always use your microwave for reheating, and only use your oven for cooking and baking. Given that your oven takes longer to heat up, it makes good sense.
If you’ve been committing some of the oven sins we’ve listed here, try changing the way you use your oven and look at the difference it makes on your energy bill. Ovens, like any appliance, use a lot of energy even when they’re being used efficiently, so using them inefficiently is only going to hurt your wallet even more.
To see which oven brand Australians rate highest, see our customer satisfaction ratings.