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Did you know that your dishwasher can be used as an oven in emergencies? | Photo courtesy of Chris Gunn, NREL.

Did you know that your dishwasher can be used as an oven in emergencies? | Photo courtesy of Chris Gunn, NREL.

Cooking is an important part of the holiday season. Food brings people together in ways many material gifts cannot. But with winter temperatures creeping in, electricity savings are something to keep in mind, especially during your energy sucking holiday parties with friends and family. Test your energy savings savvy with our Energy Saver kitchen trivia questions!

Q1. What is the most efficient appliance in your kitchen?

The answer:  It’s your microwave, believe it or not. That two-minute popcorn machine uses just 1/3 of the wattage your oven at 750–1100 watts on average and can be used for more than just frozen meals, reheating leftovers, and defrosting chicken. In fact, there are entire books dedicated to culinary usage of the microwave. Recipe books such as “A Man, a Can, a Microwave,” have now turned some of your favorite party-pleasing meals and hors d'oeuvres into microwavable treats (think Buffalo wings).  As a general rule, shorter cooking time equals fewer watts, and you're unlikely to use a microwave for anything more than 20 minutes at a time, even with these new age recipes.

Q2.  What kitchen appliance uses less energy than your oven and can be left on all day?

Answer? If you didn’t guess it, it’s a Crock-Pot or slow cooker. The device that made “Set it and forget it” style cooking popular in the 70s makes incredible beef stews, brisket, and chicken casserole as easy as turning a dial. It also uses much less energy. At 200-250 watts on the high setting, it beats any toaster oven at 1225 watts.  Try slow-cooking a tasty 8-lb cured- ham, drizzled with brown sugar for four hours. Pair your vegetables accordingly.

Q3. What appliance can clean your dishes and cook food?

Answer:  You won’t believe this, but in a broken oven emergency, a holiday meal can literally be cooked in your dishwasher (although it might void your warranty).  But it’s true; a meal can still be served with the steam power of your dishwasher at around 250-300 kWh. Some good example meals would be salmon and potatoes or even a turkey. Just wrap your favorite meal into some aluminum foil with your favorite marinade, and voila! An hour to two hour washing cycle later, dinner is served to the bewilderment of your guests. The best part? You can wash your dirty dishes at the same time. Just skip the soap unless you plan on washing out your mouth at the dinner table.

Q4. What blue label could save you hundreds of dollars of a year in the kitchen?

Answer: The ENERGY STAR® label, folks. The EPA and DOE partnership employs higher standards for efficiency for appliances under the blue ENERGY STAR label. You can find it on appliances and electronics by most manufacturers.  Purchasing ENERGY STAR appliances can literally save you hundreds of dollars on utility costs over the life of your appliances, including those we mentioned above.

Q5. How do you estimate the energy consumption of your kitchen appliances?

Answer: So maybe this isn’t trivia, but it is definitely an important thing to know. The formula for estimating energy consumption is as follows: 

(Wattage × Hours Used Per Day) ÷ 1000 = Daily Kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption
1 kilowatt (kW) = 1,000 Watts

Multiply this by the number of days you use the appliance during the year for the annual consumption in kWh per year. You can also look at the side of your individual appliances to find out its voltage and wattage information. To learn more, please read our guide on estimating appliance and home electronic use.