Ovens and ranges don't compare with the fuel-guzzling power of the big energy hogs in your house, like the refrigerator or water heater, but there are some simple things you can do to save energy in the kitchen.

Photograph by Diana Lundin/Shutterstock

Usage Tips

The real energy savings depend less on what oven or range you buy, and more on how you use it.

  • Preheating is unnecessary except with some kinds of precision baking. Normally, there’s no reason to wait until the oven has reached its optimum temperature to start cooking your food.

  • Think small. If you’re cooking something small, bake it in the toaster oven instead of heating up the big oven.

  • Think smaller! On an electric stove, use pans that are as big or bigger than the burner. The heat on uncovered parts of the burner is wasted.

  • Flatten that bottom. Good pans have a slightly concave bottom that flattens out when heated. This ensures good contact with an electric burner; a good pan can use half the energy of a warped pan.

  • Use the right tools. Copper-bottom pans heat up faster than others. And try glass and ceramic for the oven—you can even lower the heat a few degrees by using these high-conductivity materials.

  • If it’s yellow . . . it’s not working. A yellow flame, instead of a blue one, means your gas burner isn’t operating correctly.

  • Cook in bulk. Cooking lots of things at once saves energy. Reheating later uses less energy than cooking food until it’s done.

  • Leave the oven racks bare—don’t lay foil on the racks. It inhibits air circulation.

  • No peeking! Keep the oven door closed to keep the heat inside.

  • Grilling is fun but it’s not very green. Using the grill uses double the energy of using the stove.

  • Turn off the oven, or an electric stovetop burner, a few minutes before you’re done cooking. This way, you’ll use every last bit of radiated heat.

  • Keep it clean. Clean burners and burner pans will reflect more heat and add to efficiency.

  • Self-cleaning. Run the self-cleaning function right after cooking, when the oven is already hot. But don’t overuse it—try not to clean the oven this way more than once a month.

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