You can use less energy in your kitchen and still prepare the perfect Thanksgiving feast. | Photo courtesy of ©

Thanksgiving is a great time of year to bring friends and families together. It also means spending time in the kitchen to prepare the traditional Thanksgiving feast. If you're like me, you're always looking for good tips on how to put together a cozy winter meal while keeping energy bills reasonable. Energy costs in the kitchen can total up to 15% of total home energy use, so it's worth a bit of effort to learn how to use less energy in the kitchen.

Here are some tips to help keep your energy costs down:

  • Keep the oven door closed. While you may want to check on the progress of a dish you've got cooking in your oven, use the light instead. Every time the oven door is opened, the temperature inside is reduced by as much as 25 degrees, delaying the progress of your dish and, more importantly, costing you more money to get that pot roast perfectly cooked.
  • Check your oven temperature. A freestanding oven thermometer is a great way to check out how hot your oven really gets. Many ovens vary slightly from the dial you're setting your cooking temperature at—by testing your oven temperature at several settings (325, 350, 375 and 400°F), you can find out if your oven runs hot or cool, and factor an extra 25°F or so into your cooking, if necessary. Always check your freestanding oven thermometer to verify the temperature so that you're not needlessly cranking up the heat on an already hot oven!
  • Turn down the heat. Spending all day in the kitchen? If you've got the oven running and soup on the stove, you can probably turn the heat down a bit. The heat from your oven, not to mention dinner guests, should keep your home warmer than usual, and your furnace won't have to work as hard!
  • Clean your burners. If you've got an electric range, one great way to keep your stovetop cooking efficiently is to keep the reflectors under your burners grime-free. They can be a pain to clean, but regular maintenance can go a long way. You can also invest in some better reflectors that can decrease your stovetop cooking times, which will save you energy (and money!) over time.

The Energy Department also has more information on saving energy with kitchen appliances so that you can keep your energy bills low without changing you holiday celebrations.