Peas in a pan

Action: Think energy when cooking!

This action saves carbon, electricity, gas and money, all in one.

All you have to do is think about the energy you are using when you are cooking; it’s often something that is overlooked when people are trying to cut back on electricity and gas bills, and so carbon dioxide emissions. Here are a few facts to think about:

  • a typical traditional electric hob cooking element draws a massive 1800 watts of power
  • a typical electric oven element draws 2000 watts
  • halogen hobs draw lots of power too
  • gas might be cheaper but then you are directly burning fossil fuel
  • preheating your oven is using energy to cook nothing

There are many ways you can reduce your energy consumption when cooking:

  • use a microwave oven, it will draw less current and cook in less time (see the maths below)
  • don’t cook things from frozen, let them thaw naturally first
  • use the smallest pans possible
  • use the lids on pans … heat and steam escaping is simply wasted energy
  • invest in a modern and more energy efficient oven
  • adjust your simmering flames or element as low as possible whilst still getting a boil
  • use water boiled first in a kettle for veg and rice … kettles are much more efficient than pans
  • let your different veggies share a pan
  • use a tower steamer and let veg share a hob
  • cook more than you need in a big batch and freeze for next time, e.g. your roast potatoes
  • use a slow cooker
  • use a pressure cooker
  • don’t open an oven door more often or for longer than is needed
  • keep things clean … a clean oven is more efficient
  • switch off the oven ten minutes before the roast is due … a good oven will stay at temperature

There are probably lots of other little ways to save energy when cooking, why not tell us about them on our social media threads and we will share them.

Why does this help the environment?

Anything we can do to limit our use of electricity and gas reduces the demands on our power systems. Reducing the overall demand for power is key to phasing out the use of coal, gas and oil power stations around the world, thus reducing our carbon emissions.

This is another classic example of a household-level action which, if multiplied many times, can become significant globally.

microwave oven

Reducing carbon emissions is essential if we are to limit the impact of global warming and the resulting climate change. We are already seeing devastating effects from this and as a worldwide community we must act together to change the path we are on. You can learn a lot more about the impact of carbon emissions at this Wikipedia link.

Using the microwave – some maths

Here’s a little bit of maths to show what a difference this action could make.

Let’s say you want to bake a cake, and your oven draws 2,000 watts.

You preheat your oven for ten minutes, and you bake your cake for 35 minutes. That’s a total of 45 minutes, or 1.5kWh (units) of power overall.

Now let’s say you bake your cake in the microwave oven instead. Yes, it can be done, and they are delicious – they can in fact turn out lighter and more evenly done than when oven-cooked. Oh … but DON’T use a metal cake tin in a microwave; that can be very dangerous!

Your 750 watt microwave oven will cook a medium sized cake in about 12 minutes, a higher wattage microwave might take less. So that’s 0.75 x 12/60 units of electricity, or 0.15kWh.


The reduction from 1.5 units of electricity to 0.15 units of electricity is 90%. That’s 90% less power, 90% less cost, and as much as 90% less carbon emissions, depending on how your electricity is generated.

Take action

Reducing your power use when cooking is easy and effective.

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up to our bulletin “Take Action” using the form below, and thank you for your support.

Bon Appetit!

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