Soon homes will be filled with the aromas of roasting turkeys, sweet potatoes and pecan pies as the traditional start of the holiday cooking season begins with Thanksgiving. This is also when kitchen appliances are pushed into overtime preparing meals to be shared with loved ones.

As you prepare for the holiday celebrations, Gulf Power wants to remind customers that extra cooking, activities and people in your home can cause your energy bill to go up, especially when the oven and kitchen appliances are working nonstop.

“Today’s new kitchen appliances use nearly 50 percent less energy than those built just a decade ago” said Rick DelaHaya, Gulf Power spokesperson.  “Still, when holiday time rolls around, your energy bills can rise considerably, with your stove, oven, and dishwasher running overtime, and the door to your refrigerator standing open frequently as family members search for hidden treats.”

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep holiday energy costs to a minimum. Here are some no-cost ways to save money and energy in the kitchen and be thankful for the savings on your November energy bills:

  • If you expect a large group of people for dinner, lower the thermostat a degree or two before the guests arrive. Otherwise, since people generate heat, the space may become wastefully overheated.
  • Check the refrigerator and freezer doors to make sure they seal tightly. This will keep the cold air in and the warm air out. To test, close the refrigerator door on a dollar bill. If you can slip the bill out easily, or, worse, if it falls out on its own, the door needs to be adjusted or the gasket needs to be replaced.
  • Plan ahead and remove all ingredients at one time. Each time the door of a refrigerator or freezer is opened, its compressor has to run a bit longer to replace the cold air that spills out.
  • When preheating your regular oven for baking, time the preheat period carefully. Five to eight minutes should be enough time. There is no need to preheat for broiling or roasting.
  • When roasting or baking, avoid making frequent progress checks that involve opening the oven door. Each time the door is opened, a considerable portion of the oven’s heat escapes and lowers the temperature inside by as much as 25 degrees, which increases cooking time and wastes energy.
  • Cook as much of your meal as possible in the oven at one time. Foods with different cooking temperatures often can be cooked simultaneously at one temperature – variations of 25 degrees Fahrenheit in either direction still produce good results and save energy.
  • Use a “lids-on” approach to cooking. Tightly fitted lids on pots and pans help keep heat in, enabling you to lower the temperature settings and shorten the cooking times.
  • When cooking on top of your range, match the size of the pan to the heating element. More heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air. A six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner will waste over 40 percent of the energy.
  • When boiling liquids, start by using the highest temperature settings to reach the boiling point. Then lower the heat control setting and allow the food to simmer until fully cooked.
  • Once dinner is done and clean up has started, allow hot foods or liquids to cool off before placing them in the refrigerator. The cooling-off period should not hurt the taste of the food and will reduce the load on the refrigerator. Discard any uncooked food that has remained at room temperature for more than two hours
  • When all of the cooking is done, don’t use your oven’s self-cleaning cycle unless a major cleaning job is needed. Wipe up minor spills and splatters with a damp cloth. When you do use the oven’s self-cleaning feature, start the cycle right after cooking, while the oven is still hot, or wait until late evening hours when use of energy is lowest.
  • Finally, gather everyone in the kitchen for a cost-effective way to save energy by washing the dishes by hand. If that’s not an option and you use the dishwasher, wash full loads only. If you must rinse your dishes before loading them, use only cold water so you’re not running up your energy bill by heating water unnecessarily.
  • Don’t forget to use the energy-saving cycles whenever possible. Dishwashers that feature air power or overnight dry settings can save up to 10 percent of your dishwashing energy costs.