Published on November 19th, 2011 | by Guest Contributor


Energy Saving Tips for Thanksgiving

by Jocelyn Anne

Energy Saving Tips for Thanksgiving

Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving? Make these energy saving tips part of your holiday preparations!

While there is likely no meal that can top the spread of a Thanksgiving feast, there is also likely no other smorgasbord that consumes quite the amount of energy that a Thanksgiving dinner does. And, unfortunately, when you multiply that across the households of the U.S., even though it’s just one meal on one day, the energy used altogether is extremely significant.

Consider this chart from the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) that documents the difference between energy used on Thanksgiving day, 1999, and the Thursday previous. And, you can only imagine how much higher this discrepancy is now.

Energy consumption level on Thanksgiving Day

This year I’d like to challenge you to consider making some small changes in an effort to keep your energy consumption at a normal level.

Small Energy Saving Tips Add Up!

I am by no means suggesting that you don’t cook a feast, but I do have some very easy energy saving tips for you that can help cut your Thanksgiving energy use down. The more we spread the word and the more of us that make these small changes, the bigger the overall effect will be!

Energy Saving Tips for Cooking Your Turkey

Thawing: When it comes to the turkey, let’s start with the unthawing. Rather than unthawing your turkey in the refrigerator where it will consume extra energy for probably at least a day (24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds), opt for buying a fresh turkey or thawing your frozen one in cold water (30 minute per pound)

How Much: Consider that you may not need an entire turkey. If you won’t be eating the whole turkey, cook it in phases. Perhaps all you need on Thanksgiving day is the breast or just the legs and thighs. Or consider buying a smaller turkey which will require less cooking time.

How to: If you’re cooking in the oven and planning on the plastic bag trick, use a brown biodegradable paper bag instead. It will cook it just as moist but allow you to get away from using more plastic.

Oil-less infrared turkey fryers: If you crave fried turkey, try this to avoid all the left over oil waste

Gas grill: It might not have quite the “wood-fire” taste you’re craving, but it will have much the same texture and is a very clean burning and energy efficient option

Extra Energy Saving Tips on Cooking

+ Turn down your house thermostat! You’ll likely be pumping plenty of extra heat out of the kitchen to make up for the difference.

+ The sides: choose sides that you can cook with the turkey in the oven simultaneously so you don’t have to add extra time to the oven’s use.

+ Use the right size burners for your pots so that you don’t lose extra energy unnecessarily.

+ Don’t worry about pre-heating the oven, it’s not necessary for a long, slow cook like a turkey.

+ Use ceramic or glass pans, you can turn down your oven by up to 25 degrees and your food will still cook just as quickly.

+ Check to see if your oven has a convection feature; it will cook more quickly and it is more energy efficient.

Remember that the “greenest” turkeys are either heritage turkeys  or locally and organically grown. Always check to see if anyone is raising organic turkeys in your area before heading to the market. Of course, you can also skip the turkey all together. Animal agriculture is more polluting than the transportation sector, so opting for a plant-based Thanksgiving spread can also put a big dent in your feast’s energy footprint.

Happy Thanksgiving!

[CC Image by D Sharon Pruitt via FLickr]

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