Cutting energy costs in the kitchen

Rent and mortgage payments stay the same each month, but food costs keep changing every day. One of the ways to cut on some of the food costs is to save by conserving energy.

That may sound more difficult than it really is, for there are many small things in the kitchen that are easy to do.

Start with some of the basic common-sense things, such as not preheating the oven unless it is absolutely necessary. Items that need to cook for more than one hour usually don't need a preheated oven. Except for pastry and cake baking , you can waste energy by preheating.

Also, don't turn the oven temperature higher than you need, hoping to save the warm-up time. The oven will not heat faster at a higher temperature.

Try cooking more with your glass dishes. Heat is held better by glass, glass ceramic baking ware, and stainless steel than by some other ware, and it takes less oven heat to cook in them. You can usually set the oven temperature about 25 degrees F. (14 degrees C.) lower.

Be sure any glassware used for cooking is ovenproof, so it can stand high feat.

Use stored oven heat for warming. Right after a meal is cooked and the oven has been turned off, there's still heat inside. Use it to warm rolls or plates. Or, after the oven has been turned off, open the door, in cold weather. Let leftover hot air warm the room.

But don't use your oven for basic room heating. Don't use your oven as a means to heat the kitchen. That's too costly. If you need more heat, it makes better sense to buy a small space heater. It will give you heat at a lower energy cost, and it's a safer way top put heat in the room.

Joan Latherow Bonnett has written a book with a common-sense approach to practical dollar-saving ideas from her experience as a University of Illinois Extension money management specialist.

"How to Cut Your Food Costs and Save Kitchen Energy 190 Ways" is a concise guide and is written in an easy-to-read format. It is available postpaid for $5 .95 from Mini-Word Editions, PO Box 3314, Champaign, IL 61820.

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