By EVA DUNN-FROEBIG
Thanksgiving dinner hosts are responsible for cooking the meal, accommodating their guests—and they get stuck with the energy bills. But there are ways to cut down on gobbling up energy to help save money and be kind to the environment on Thanksgiving Day.
If possible prepare side dishes that require the same cooking temperature as the turkey to reduce the amount of time your oven is on. Cook side dishes in ceramic or glass pans, which retain heat better than other materials, and you can turn down the oven about 25 degrees because the food will continue to cook after being removed from the oven. The convection feature in ovens circulates the heated air around the food and will also reduce the cooking time. Instead of opening the oven door to check on food turn on the over light and check the cooking status through the oven window to prevent heat from escaping and prolonging the cooking time.
Consider cooking dishes in a crockpot or on a grill to eliminate energy consumption. For stovetop cooking, keep lids on pots and pans for faster cooking time.
Save energy by keeping your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. It’s more energy-efficient to leave the door open longer while you take out multiple items at one time rather than opening and closing the door a number of times. Store beverages outside or in a cooler to eliminate guests opening and closing the refrigerator door to take one item.
Heat & Lights
Before you start cooking turn your thermostat down a few degrees. The oven and the guests will keep your house warm. If you have a ceiling fan turn it on to distribute heat throughout the house. When you’re done cooking open the oven door to distribute more heat throughout the room. Just be sure to keep kids and pets away.
Keep lights off in rooms that aren’t being used. Turn the lights down (if you have dimmers) or off during dinner and light candles for a special ambiance.
There’s no need to rinse plates with hot water or even cold water unless the food is caked on to the plates. Dishes will get clean in the dishwasher without pre-rinsing and dishwashers use less water than hand-washing, especially if you wait to start the dishwasher before it’s full. Stop the dishwasher before the heated dry cycle and open the door to let the dishes air dry.
Be sure to compost leftover food on the plates to cut down on your garbage load and the landfill.
Turn Off the TV
Consider turning the football game off for part of the day unless your guests absolutely require it. Bond with your family and friends over a board game instead of being glued to the TV all day. Better yet, go outside for a friendly game of football or to walk off your meal.
When it’s over, find ways to use up your leftovers and reduce energy use by not having to cook for several days. Have Thanksgiving all over again by heating up a plate of turkey and all of the sides in the microwave, which uses less energy and takes less time than the oven or stovetop. Common cold turkey sandwiches use virtually no energy to prepare. Get creative with your sandwich and incorporate stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash and cranberry sauce. Similarly, use leftovers to assemble a cold salad with turkey, roasted vegetables, nuts and dried cranberries.
Happy Thanksgiving from Missoula Organization of Realtors.
Eva Dunn-Froebig is an active member of the community and the Communications Director at the Missoula Organization of Realtors. She has worked and volunteered for several membership organizations during her 15 years in Missoula, including Run Wild Missoula, the Missoula Art Museum and La Leche League of Missoula.