Your food budget doesn’t stop at the checkout counter. Here are some suggestions to help you save energy and money when cooking.

Give your range or oven the day off: Microwave and toaster ovens are good ways to reduce your cooking costs. Microwave and toaster ovens use less energy compared to the standard electric range/oven when heating up or re-heating foods. They also give off much less heat which is especially important in the summer.

Don’t preheat if you don’t have to: If you’re baking breads and cakes, preheating your oven may be necessary. But for most foods (casseroles and broiled items) preheating simply isn’t necessary. It’s an energy and money waster.

Keep it closed: Remember, every time you open your oven door you lose approximately 25°F of heat. This means your food will take longer to cook and your oven needs to work that much harder to keep the temperature consistent.

Boil until boiling and not a minute longer: Once water or other liquids reach a state of boiling, they won’t get any hotter. If you need to bring something to a boil, use the smallest amount of water necessary and turn the burner down or off when it starts to boil.

Think smart… plan your meals: A meal like roasted chicken, green bean casserole, and brownies can all be cooked at the same time because they cook at the same temperature. It is easier on you and your oven too.

Cover it up: Covers and lids on your pots and pans trap steam to help cook food faster.

Pay attention to pots and pans: Pans with flared sides or bottoms that are smaller than your burner let heat escape. Try to match the size of the pot or pan to the size of the burner. If pots and pans are too big, or have warped bottoms, food will not cook evenly.

Use your leftovers: Your oven and range have leftovers too. An electric oven can stay hot for up to 30 minutes. Even your electric range top burner can stay hot for an extra 3 to 5 minutes. Take advantage of this extra heat by warming up desserts or rolls. After all, you’ve already paid for it.

Keep your oven clean: An oven that’s free of grease and baked-on residue will work more efficiently. Utilize the self-cleaning feature only when absolutely needed.

Thaw first, then cook: Plan ahead. If you thaw your foods completely before cooking, your oven won’t have to work so hard to cook your meal.

Upgrade to an induction range: An induction cooker is faster and more effective than a traditional electric cooking surface. It allows instant control of cooking energy similar to gas burners. Other cooking methods use flames or red-hot heating elements; induction heating heats only the pot. Because the surface of the cook top is heated only by contact with the vessel, the possibility of burn injury is significantly less than with other methods. The induction effect does not directly heat the air around the vessel, resulting in further energy savings.

Upgrade to a convection oven: A convection oven is an oven that has fans to circulate air around food. Conventional ovens which do not have fans, rely primarily on radiation from the oven walls, and to a lesser extent, on natural convection caused by temperature differences within the oven, to transfer heat to food. In contrast, the fans in convection ovens allow more heat to be transferred. Fans help distribute heat evenly around the food, removing the blanket of cool air that surrounds food in an oven, allowing food to cook more evenly in less time and at a lower temperature than in a conventional oven.