Green(er) Ways to Give Thanks — Celebrate Sustainably & Safely With These Holiday Tips
Whether you’re hosting loved ones or contributing a side dish for Thanksgiving this year, it’s likely that you’ll be getting real cozy with your kitchen over the next week or so.
After all, what’s the holiday without your favorite home-cooked foods?
In 2022, The United States Department of Energy (DOE) estimated that 15% of total energy used in the American household can be traced back to the kitchen. The DOE also reported that this percentage accounts for cooking — which alone is responsible for somewhere between 4 to 5% of energy consumption — as well as usage related to refrigeration, water heating, dishwashing, etc.
As you continue to prep and finalize your menu this year, consider adding a handful of energy efficiency strategies to the mix.
The National Energy Improvement Fund (NEIF) is chiming in to add that becoming an energy-efficient host, chef, dinner-table guest, etc. — even in times of high holiday stress — is more attainable than you might think. As the nation’s only Certified B Corp and U.S. DOE Home Improvement Expert Lender partner, we are providing categorized tips on how you can easily incorporate greener, more sustainable habits into your routine for turkey day and beyond!
General Tips For Hosting
- Install Dimmer Switches in Your Dining Room
If you’ve got the time to spare before hosting your loved ones, consider swapping out your traditional light switches for dimmers. Dimmers will allow the lights in your dining room to operate using lower power outputs, as explained in this SaveonEnergy article. The swap is also known to prolong the lifespan of your bulbs; each time you dim a bulb’s brightness by 10%, you can expect its life expectancy to double!
- Lower the Setting on Your Thermostat (a Few Degrees)
The last thing you’ll want to feel as you run around cooking and cleaning all morning is uncomfortable. Prepare for indoor temps to rise because of the extra guests you’ll be welcoming and hot oven settings you’ll be using for most of the day. Be sure to adjust your thermostat accordingly. For any issues that arise — and we know they sometimes happen at the worst times! — contact an NEIF-Approved Contractor.
- Ensure Smoke Detectors Work Properly
Though it might seem like a no-brainer, make sure your smoke alarms are in working order prior to the holidays. The National Fire Protection Association reports that home cooking fires spike on Thanksgiving each year; across the nation, incidents are over three times more likely to occur on Thanksgiving than on the average day. It’s also wise to keep an extinguisher within easy reach.
- Compost Food Waste — Excluding Meat!
We’re all guilty of helping ourselves to more food than we can handle sometimes, especially in the presence of dishes we only enjoy once or twice per year. Composting is a sustainable way of getting rid of excess or soiled foods such as potatoes, green beans, pumpkins, corn — anything that is free of animal proteins. In fact, a 2022 research study projected that the U.S. will reduce carbon emissions by 30 million tons a year given the current composting trends.
Efficiency Tips For Cooking
- Cook Smarter, Not Harder
Don’t let your turkey hoard the oven (alone) all day long! Make the most out of the space your oven provides — as well as the energy it consumes — by cooking other dishes simultaneously. As long as your sides require the same temp, reduce your oven’s running time by cooking them alongside the main course.
- Avoid Excessively Peeking in the Oven
Although baking/cooking/roasting your Thanksgiving dishes at the same time is efficient, frequently opening your oven door is not. According to the DOE, your oven’s temperature can drop up to 25 degrees each time you allow the heat to escape, so avoid any unnecessary opening of the door to check on the progress of your food. Instead, utilize the window opening and oven light feature.
- Show Your Microwave Some Love, Too
Did you know that microwaves use up to 80% less energy than conventional ovens? This ENERGY STAR article also adds that microwaves will generate less heat in your kitchen and, of course, they also decrease cooking time significantly, which are two factors you might want to consider while cooking for a crowd.
- Hand Wash ONLY Dishes That Aren’t Dishwasher Safe
This tip might save your sanity as well as home energy consumption: use your dishwasher! Don’t be a hero when it comes to kitchen clean up; it is, in fact, much more efficient to take full advantage of your dishwasher, as an ENERGY STAR certified appliance saves more than double the amount of energy than using your sink to handwash dishes. Additionally, you can save upwards of 8,000 gallons of water per year!
From our NEIF family to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving!