6 energy-saving hacks for your oven
Anyone else ever put the oven on full blast to bake a single, solitary potato? Guilty as charged.
Fortunately those lonely potato days of the late nineties are far behind us, along with MiniDiscs, waking up just in time for Neighbours and proudly sporting a semi-ironic badger-striped mullet. Phew.
Our eco-conscious current selves have caught on to a batch of useful energy-saving tips for the oven that could save as much as £80 a year off your electric bill or up to £30 a year off the gas bill, depending on the type of oven and current energy supply deal. You’ll be glad to hear that none of these involve cremating an innocent potato before cramming the remains with mayonnaise and bacon-flavoured Super Noodles...
Save as much as £80 a year off your electric bill or up to £30 a year off the gas bill
1. Become a fan of the fan setting
Convection cooking, moving the heat through the oven with a fan, cooks food more evenly and in a shorter time. An instant energy saving of around 20% versus the standard oven setting. Boom!
An instant energy saving of around 20% versus the standard oven setting
2. Fill the racks
Ovens suck up the most energy when they’re getting to temperature, so aim to use all the racks to make the most of that heat.
When cooking a main dish, you could use the other racks to batch cook extra portions to freeze, roast a side dish of veggies, nestle in a couple of potatoes for tomorrow’s lunch or bake a few quick biscuits at the end.
Try to stagger the pots and pans to leave as many gaps as possible. The better the heated air flows around the food, the quicker everything will cook.
Try to stagger pots and pans to leave as many gaps as possible
3. Get a head start to finish faster
With the likes of stew, hotpot, pies, pasta bakes and casseroles, no need to wait for the oven to preheat.
Chuck the prepped dish into the cold oven, set the temperature and the food will begin cooking gradually as the oven heats up. Use a lid if you can, as pressure from steam inside the pot will help to heat the food even faster. Switch the oven off a few minutes before the end of the usual baking time and use the residual heat to finish your dish.
Use a lid if you can, as pressure from steam inside the pot will help to heat the food even faster
4. Time to save energy
Dig out that manual and spend a few minutes getting to grips with your oven’s timer functions. It’s genuinely worth the effort and not just in terms of cutting wasted energy.
Beyond the straightforward alarm, many ovens now have a timer setting which automatically shuts the oven off when the time is up. For those of us who tend to get distracted, this has saved many a forgotten dish from a sorry end.
The handy delayed baking programme allows you to specify when you want the food to be ready. Input the temperature and cooking time, and the oven will auto-start and auto-stop for a perfectly cooked dish at a time of your choosing.
Dig out that manual and spend a few minutes getting to grips with your oven’s timer functions
5. Resist the temptation to open the door
Popping the door to anxiously prod your dish mid-bake can reduce the oven’s temperature by more than 60°C in just 30 seconds. Not only will your food take even longer to cook, in order to get back up to the set heat, the oven will have to draw additional energy from the mains.
Yes, it’s tempting to take a quick peep, but try to trust the timings, what you can see through the window and the evidence of your nose and leave things be!
Try to trust the evidence of your nose and leave things be!
6. Keep a clean oven
Don’t waste energy heating and reheating the crusted drippings on the floor of the oven. An overnight steep and then a once-over using bicarb and plain white vinegar will de-gunge your oven without harsh chemicals or air-polluting ‘self-cleaning’ programmes.
Remember to check your oven’s door seal during cleaning, as dried-on food, a loose fit or damage can allow precious heat to escape.
Remember to check your oven’s door seal during cleaning