The oven draws more energy than the hob or microwave, but that doesn’t mean it’s the enemy! If you are turning it on, make sure you use it to its full potential with our top tips for energy-efficient cooking.
Whether you’re an avid baker, love a Sunday roast or are simply after ways to cut costs in the kitchen, we’re here to help. From ensuring the oven door is shut and keeping it clean to using every part of the heat it generates, there’s plenty of ways to make the most of your oven’s energy. Every oven will differ depending on the model, age and condition, but there are a few things we can all do to keep costs down.
Head to our budget-friendly hub for more tips to help you shop smart, cook clever & waste less.
Shut the front door!
Don’t open the oven door more than you need to as the temperature drops fast. And if your oven has a fan setting, use it – it helps to distribute heat more evenly. There’s also often no need to wait for your oven to heat up. Most dishes will do perfectly well if put in the oven straight away, but best to avoid baking recipes (and Yorkshire puds).
Keep it clean
Cleaning the oven isn’t everyone’s favourite job, but a bit of good old-fashioned elbow grease can help your oven to function more efficiently. Keeping your oven clean ensures it can preheat properly and distribute heat evenly, meaning less wasted energy.
Harness residual heat
If you’re using an electric oven, turn it off 10 minutes before the end of cooking (it will hold its heat). Once you’re done cooking, maximise the residual heat by opening the oven door to heat your home, using it to warm plates or for roasting, toasting and dehydrating:
- DRIED APPLES Dehydrate thin slices of fresh apple, then pair with yoghurt and granola for breakfast, or use in these incredible toffee apple buns.
- ROASTED TOMATOES Halve a glut of ripe tomatoes and place on a large roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and pop in the hot oven as it cools. Delicious tossed through salads, on toasts with torn-up mozzarella or as a quick tomato sauce.
- CROUTONS Tear or dice bread into croutons, dry them out in the oven when it’s cooling down after use, then store in an airtight container for salads, stews or soups.
- CRISPY CHICKPEAS Scatter drained tinned chickpeas in a single layer on a roasting tray, drizzle with oil and season to perfection. You’ll end up with a batch of crispy chickpeas that are equally great as is for a quick snack, or as a salad topper.
- GRANOLA Make up a batch of granola and pop in the oven as it cools down. Store in an airtight container, it’ll keep happily for up to 4 weeks.
Cook two dishes at once
Open your mind to the wonderful world of cooking two dishes at once! You’ll not only save energy, but time too. Fill up empty oven shelves with a second dish to get ahead of the game, so you can cut down on cooking (and energy use) during the week. Any portions you don’t eat straightaway can then be portioned up and frozen, then simply reheated in the microwave. Not everything cooks well together – if you’re looking to avoid flavour crossover, just make sure you cover your dishes. And make sure you leave enough space for even cooking.
If you’re after recipe inspiration, check out our top 2-for-1 energy-efficient oven bakes
Maximise oven space
Don’t have time to make a second dish? Prick a whole butternut squash all over with a fork and pop in the oven until lovely and soft, then you can use cooked chunks in soups, curries, pastas, fritters and salads. Or, prick an aubergine and roast directly on the bars of the oven for 50 minutes, until soft and tender – delicious in salads or whizzed up into dips.
For slower cooks, opt for glass or ceramic dishes, as they tend to retain heat better than metal. However, they do take longer to heat up – so if you’ve got a quick bake or roast, metal might be the best option.
Looking for more ways to keep costs down while you’re cooking? Head to our budget-friendly recipe hub for all of our tips and tricks.