Reducing energy when cooking


Too many cooks spoil the climate. Our hobs, ovens, kettles and microwaves use as much electricity in a year as British streetlighting does in six years.

But, by making a few considered choices, the average household can shave £170 off its utility bills every year. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, your carbon cutting will really add up. Here’s how to make a few simple savings.


1. Pressure cookers

Pressure cookers can save you huge amounts of cooking time, drastically cut energy consumption, and, if you’re a keen cook, pay for themselves in no time. Prices start from just £20 for a 4 litre capacity cooker.

A pressure cooker is a large pan with a closely fitting lid. A certain amount of liquid is boiled in the sealed pan with the food, and the build-up of steam under pressure inside the pan means that some foods cook in less than half the time usually taken.

You can cook more than one food at a time in a pressure cooker. Use them to cook any food or dish that you’d normally boil, steam or stew, such as:

– Soups and stocks.
– Pulses, such as dried beans and chick peas, which take just 15–20 minutes in a pressure cooker, compared with the usual hour or two. They don’t even need to be soaked overnight this way!
– Steamed puddings, such as Christmas puddings. A 1lb (450g) Christmas pud takes just 1½ hours in a pressure cooker, instead of the usual six hours.

2. Cooking pasta

Once you’ve tried this simple energy and moneysaving trick you’ll never go back. Boil the water for pasta in a kettle. Place the water and pasta in a pan, cover with a well-fitting lid, and bring back to the boil. Then turn the electricity/gas off. When the cooking time specified on the packet is up, you’ll find that it’s cooked as normal!

3. Extra, extra

If a stovetop recipe, such as veggie chilli and most soups, stores well in the fridge or freezer, make larger batches of it. That way you won’t have to use the stove again to make additional batches. You can reheat it in a few minutes using the microwave instead – and it’s much healthier than bought ready-meals.

4. Micro-matters

A microwave oven uses about half the energy of a conventional electric oven. This is mainly due to faster cooking times – and the energy heats only the food, not the entire oven. Though it uses more power per minute, it cooks faster!

Blitzing frozen veg in the microwave instead of waiting for them to boil saves time – and cuts energy use by 65%. And microwaving a frozen ready-meal rather than cooking it in the oven can halve energy use.

5. Cooking on gas

Switching from an electric oven to a gas oven could save you £50 a year – and cut your emissions as effectively as turning all your appliances off standby.

Because electric cooking is three times more expensive than gas cooking, a simple new model will have paid for itself in about four years!

6. Switch to a green energy supplier

Ecotricity is a green energy company that is dedicated to changing the way electricity is made. Unlike other companies, it invests its profits solely in clean forms of power – from the wind, sun and sea. What’s more, it will price match the standard tariffs of the ‘big six’ energy suppliers – meaning that switching to Ecotricity probably won’t cost you a penny more! To sign up, visit

Green kitchen facts

– Electricity is three times more expensive than gas – and emits twice as much CO2 per unit.
– The average Brit spends about £75 a year on cooking bills.
– Cooking uses about 830 kWh annually in the average UK home.

By making a few considered choices, the average household can shave £170 off its utility bills every year. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the savings will really add up.

© Amanda Woodvine for Didsbury Dinners, 2o11. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the copyright owner.

Food photography: © Chava Eichner

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