Cooking over open fire is like burning money

People that live in undeveloped areas who have little to no Fuel, Electricity, Water, Food, are often highly creative individuals. They struggle and try to get along with any little means they can find for the day. Some of their smallest ideas - sometimes very simple tricks or methods that can help save water and/or energy - could easily be applied to kitchens with modern electric appliances in developed nations. Even the tiniest percentage of reduction of electricity, gas and water will make a visible change in the monthly/yearly utility bills, and can make your economy and lifestyle slightly better and relaxed.[1] So in order to help you reduce your costs, make you learn, adapt to new, simple habits, this project will help you prepare - in good time before electricity and energy prices and emission taxes will rise even more - with some suggested, simple, easy-to-use methods to help you Cooking much more efficiently.

Goals and purpose of this project[edit | edit source]

Short-term goals[edit | edit source]

  • spreading information about possibilities and simplicity with updated and improved Cooking methods.
  • attempt to create understanding about what we have that others might not have.
  • change minor routines and behavior among people to make them think about their own use and waste.
  • create an understanding that many small, separate amounts of any type of waste in many millions of homes, add up and equal a global landslide.
  • make people realize that any little second of saving electricity will be of help and will result in slightly lower bills from the power- and utility- companies.
  • promoting the Nega-watts-thinking of "A watt saved is a watt earned".

The larger perspective[edit | edit source]

  • inspire many people to feel good about saving so they become eager to try to experiment to find many more energy-saving cooking methods.
  • inspire others to start similar efficiency-projects within other areas of their homes and daily lives.
  • make people notice and reduce wasting and to save more electricity, time, water, and energy.
  • educate people how to shop smarter, cook more at home, and to eat healthier.
  • influence the idea of a small personal change among a growing group of individuals.
  • make people think about solidarity with other living people, and towards people in future generations.
  • reduce the amount of large and expensive appliances that are routinely installed into newly-built homes.

Illustration on how to turn old pot into heat-retentive gasket/collar How to apply gaskets/collars to modern stove

Illustrations on how some people build gaskets/collars to retain heat closest around the cooking pot. This works well over both open fire & modern electric stoves. Do not attempt to use this on a gas stove! Images are meant only as inspiration!

Appliances & Equipment[edit | edit source]

Most advice in this project concerns mostly regular standard electrical equipment that occur frequently in most households. There will be no instructions or suggestions on methods that suggest you to build something or to purchase anything expensive.

Primarily, these methods aim to be as easy/simple to use as possible, so that anyone can understand them and turn them into a habit to use year around. Secondly, because some individuals could get inspiration from these efficient methods, and possibly discover other simple and clever methods in different areas around the house that are a source of waste of electricity, water, paper, time or something else. The illustrative sketch above is only meant as an inspiration from undeveloped regions, on how people try to preserve the heat where it is needed, and not let it slip away into thin air.

Every modern home has some standard appliances like a fridge/freezer and an oven/stove with 3-4 hotplates on top.[2] This article will show a few descriptive methods that you can try and experiment with, but be careful and try to stay safe at all times.

A microwave-oven and electric water kettle are very useful to heat and boil small amounts of food or water quickly. You could even benefit from having 2 different size kettles, one for occasions when you just want to have one or two cups of tea or instant coffee, and another bigger one for boiling larger amounts of water. The time needed and electricity used/wasted to boil water in a kettle or a saucepan depends very much on the ratio between how much water to air is inside the kettle/vessel.

Retained heat cooking - all you need is a towel![edit | edit source]

See Towel cooking - it is extremely easy. Wrapping a pot in a big towel while it's hot is enough; putting the cooking vessel inside a cardboard or Styrofoam box is little a bit better. An insulated box is better again (but needs a little bit of work to set up).

Ensure food is cooked properly - especially foods such as chick peas and kidney beans which should be boiled for about 30-40 minutes to be safe to eat. Many other simpler foods such as oatmeal or vegetables can simply be brought to a boil and then you can turn the heat off immediately.The pot will continue to cook, whilst it is wrapped with a towel or placed in the retained heat cooker.

Never boil more water than your current needs![edit | edit source]

However, if you have got a clean and empty thermos flask, you could fill it up with that extra hot water and the thermos can keep it hot for several hours. If you normally would drink a cup of instant coffee a while later after your meal, you would not need to boil any new water for that. (if you have some hot water saved in the thermos flask)

Never save and reuse water that you have boiled any type of food in! It can be hazardous and unhealthy.

See some more electricity saving advice in Electric appliances

You will need two to three different sized sauce pans/pots with lids. The lid should always fit as tight as possible on top to avoid heat and steam leaking out and being wasted. Always use as small a pan/pot as possible for your cooking needs. A small amount of water and large amount of air under the lid will be inefficient. Exactly the same as explained above with the kettle. Make sure you cover the item you intend to cook with water, but not with excessive amounts of water.

One or two different sized frying pans is also good to have. Some large frying pans come with lids, which can come in handy in other cooking, even if you normally use a frying pan for cooking stuff that doesn't need a lid, You could hold a lid in one hand as a shield, for example: if you are frying bacon or pouring out hot water in the sink. This helps protect your clothes from becoming stained.[3]

Use only pans that are perfectly flat bottomed and thick bottomed. You want as tight a contact as possible between the bottom of the pan and the surface of the hotplate/burner. This results in reducing the time needed to heat it up, shorter cooking times, and less wasted heat.The combined mass of the hotplate and the bottom of the pan retain larger amounts of heat, so you could normally turn off the plate completely at least 2-4 minutes before your cooking is done.[4]

Always match the size of the pan to the size of the hotplate. If you can see any part of the hotplate outside the edges of the pan: you will waste a lot of heat and possibly burn your hands on the handle. If you use a much larger pan than the hotplate, you will only get efficient heat in the middle of the pan and slightly less around the edges, which means slightly longer cooking times. Some large, cheap models of frying pans can get their bottom warped/curved after a while, so if it stands and jiggles slightly on the hot plate: stop using it for cooking. This leads to wasting a lot of heat and money in the empty gaps and poor contact surface.

Maintenance[edit | edit source]

Try to keep all your appliances clean, both outside and inside. You are more likely to cook at home regularly if they look clean and fresh to use. The equipment will get a slightly longer life-span and you will not need to replace them as often. You will probably also not go out to eat in restaurants as often, if you enjoy cooking at home. So you will save money!

For more advice on easy ways to save electricity, see Electric appliances

Cooking methods explained[edit | edit source]

Here you will be able to find some examples on food preparation that you can study and try to use, to learn about some updated, improved, smarter and energy saving cooking methods that is similar to Towel cooking. Below are a few recipe examples. Try to apply these simple techniques and this knowledge in your kitchen. Try to make a habit out of using them regularly. They are simple to use all the time, and prevent you from going back to your old inefficient methods.

Try to make a personal "food and eating inventory", or journal over a trial period of 2-3 weeks, or 1-2 months, so you can see more clearly how often you defrost and cook frozen food, what types of carbohydrates you eat and how often (potatoes, pasta, rice and so on), how often you consume meat and so on. No one will want to force you to stop eating what you like to eat. No one will force you into becoming vegetarian or vegan, But it is wise to sometimes make an inventory to make it more clear to yourself about what you eat, in the same way as you can make an economic or financial budget, to list everything in a simpler way of what types of food, how often and how expensive it is that you consume. You will also be able to calculate the result you get from your normal daily methods.

Try to think of it all as an inventory over cooking-time and cleaning-up-time too. Try to analyse your cooking methods and try to make your other recipes a little more time- and cost-efficient. Also please feel free to contribute to this article if you come up with something, if that method or recipe is: easy to use and will save either cooking time, electricity, water, or cleaning-up-time (and will require no custom-built, special or modified equipment)

A good rule of thumb of energy-efficient cooking is to choose fresh ingredients in the shop. They will require the least amount of preparation and cooking time compared to frozen food and ready-made-dinners.

Changing gradually[edit | edit source]

Perhaps you can immediately pick one or two days per month where you replace your most time- and energy-consuming food with another type of similar food that is slightly faster to prepare and will cost less to buy and lowers your use of electricity. You can maybe take one or two days per week where you replace your typical source of carbohydrate that demands the longest cooking time and try another kind. Great examples of smart and fast-prepared carbohydrates are cous-cous and bulgur and they are explained in the recipe section below.

You can try to start slowly. After you've gotten used to some of these ways of thinking, shopping, cooking, and living, you can gradually increase the number of days per month you change your diet. Positive side effects of this are that if you, for instance, cut back to eating boiled or oven-fried potatoes only once or twice per week, you will enjoy the taste of them much more when you eat them the next time after a short or long hiatus. After those initial experiments you can, perhaps, pick one or two days per month to change your meat/beef into another type of meat like chicken, turkey, pork, or fish. You can also change a "poultry-day" and turn it into a salad day.

When you notice that these small alterations are starting to reduce your electric bill and grocery bills, you will probably be interested in increasing the number of days that you cook and eat more efficiently. Hopefully anyone can change gradually into only 3-4 "meat-eating-days" per week. There is a very high correlation between cooking-time, energy-use, and healthier food. If you slightly reduce your food costs on weekdays, with just one or a few percent over the course of several months, you will easily be able to afford a little bit bigger festive meals on special occasions such as holidays. (For instance a little bit bigger birthday-cakes, thanksgiving-turkey, Christmas dinner or any anniversary dinners)

Recipes[edit | edit source]

Eggs, boiled[edit | edit source]

When you boil eggs, think about how many eggs you want right away, and how many you might want for the next two days. Boiled eggs will keep fresh in any normal fridge for at least 2-3 days (if the shell is not cracked or broken). So boil a couple of extra eggs each time, which wont be any extra energy used. In fact it will keep you from having to boil eggs every day. This could reduce your energy use for boiling eggs by up to 50%. And every other day you have got a ready-boiled egg in just the few seconds it takes you to open the fridge door. Think of it as instant eggs!

To Boil, start with pouring fresh cold water in your electric kettle and start it. Remember to use the exact amount of water needed for anything you will boil. Filling a kettle or pan with any extra cold water will only make the cooking time longer and waste more electricity.

Pick out a good sized saucepan that will fit the number of eggs you want to cook in one layer It should have a tight fitting and undamaged lid. Do not fill ice cold water in this pan, because you will only cool down the metal bottom and sides. Place your eggs gently in the pan, and pour a little bit of tap water in the bottom. Place the pan on a burner/hotplate that is the same size as the bottom of the pan and turn on maximum heat when the water in the kettle is boiling.

Take the kettle and slowly pour the hot water carefully into the pan with the eggs. Sometimes it can be useful to tilt the saucepan slightly towards you, so that the eggs will roll to your side and you can pour the hot water at the other side of the pan because pouring hot water on cool eggshells can crack or break them.

Place the lid on the pot! Start a timer! Always use a timer when cooking, it will prevent you from guessing and estimating the time. This guessing often misleads you to cooking 2-3 extra minutes "just to be safe", and that is always unnecessary!

Gradually lower the heat on the plate one notch at a time to keep an even boil. It should never need to boil too hard or bubble too violently. If you have turned it down a bit too much, and the boiling reduces and slows down to a stop, you could turn it up one notch for a minute or two, to get it to start bubbling evenly again.

There is a lot of heat getting built up and stored in the combined mass of the hotplate and the bottom of the pan if the contact between them is as flat and tight as possible. So you can turn off the stove at least 2-3 minutes before your eggs are ready![5]

Eggs, Microwaved[edit | edit source]

If you are just boiling one or two eggs each time, you can even further improve efficiency by learning how to microwave them. You can use a coffee cup or similar device.There is even a product available in some shops, that is egg shaped, wherein it is meant to place your egg, and cook it in microwave. Because of its design, you will prevent explosions within the microwave oven, due to too high heat or too fast cooking of the egg.

You will have to learn and practice your way to get an appropriately cooked egg, in as short time as possible, depending on the effect and strength of the model of your microwave.

Begin by cracking an egg into a cup, remove all shell. add a little pinch of salt, and use a fork or spoon to crack the yolk slightly. (you can stir around a little to get more of a scrambled egg consistency of the finished product)

Place the cup inside the microwave and turn it on full power for 10 seconds. leave it to rest for 10 seconds. It can be very hot. Then take it out carefully to check. (You can stir around a little again with the fork or spoon, for the scrambled egg result). Then place the cup once again in the oven to reheat for 10 more seconds on full power. Repeat until desired hardness. Stop the oven immediately if you hear any sputtering sounds, to prevent you from having to clean the entire inside of the ovens walls. Too much microwave will result in big egg explosions. It will become very hot!

With the next egg you cook, you will probably be able to decrease the cooking time with a few seconds on the first and second heating session. Continue practicing until you received the most appropriately cooked egg.

with my microwave it takes 2 sessions of 25 seconds each @ 1280W, approximate electricity use roughly is 1 cent per egg, not including the cost for the microwave. All i have to clean is one cup and one spoon, no pots or pans to wash up. So a big save of hot water and detergent also.

Oatmeal porridge[edit | edit source]

Oats are a great source of carbohydrates, energy, and some nutrients in the morning. It is traditionally quite fast to prepare. Normally there are recipes and instructions on the bag or box of oats, which recommend you to boil in a saucepan on the stove for 3-8 minutes! (that is really bad advice!) Here is a method that will eliminate the need to wash and clean the pan. This recipe will make you boil your oats completely with the use of an electric kettle, and directly in the dish or bowl that you will eat it from.

Boil 2-3 cups of water in the electric kettle. (if you will need hot water for boiling eggs or a cup of tea or instant coffe, boil that amount of water at the same time)

Take a ceramic deep dish or soup-plate that will contain at least one large serving of porridge. Place it onto a hotplate, without turning on the stove! Find a pot lid that fits nice and tight over the rim of the dish.

Pour 1 cup of Rolled oats[6] or Oatmeal[7] (or up to 2 cups if you are hungry) in the dish/plate, add a pinch of salt.

Pour the boiling water from the kettle onto the oats. You need little more than one cup of water for each cup of oats. Cover the bowl quickly with the lid! You can really use anything clean and flat to cover it with, as long as it fits above the rim of the dish and retains most of the steam, but not becoming moist and soggy so it collapses down and touches your food, when the steam cooks inside.

After 2-3 minutes you lift the lid. It might drop some condensed water from the lid, so keep holding it above the porridge bowl to avoid a mess. Stir around a little with a spoon in the porridge and quickly put the lid back on top! Wait for 2-3 more minutes and it should be ready to eat. Put your favorite toppings on it and eat![8]

Some examples of very tasty and healthy toppings are grated/shredded coconut, cinnamon powder, applesauce, crushed hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, or dehydrated fruits like apricots or raisins. Experiment and mix! If you can come up with plenty of versions, you will never get bored with your efficient oats in the morning.

After you have eaten your oats pour cool water onto the dish and leave it standing with some water to dissolve all residue. This will be very easy to wash up later, and will not require much detergents or work.

Cous-cous & Bulgur[edit | edit source]

Bulgur bag

These are two types of processed wheat, popular in middle-eastern and northern African cuisine. They are available in packages of different fine/large grains, and they are a healthy and energy efficient source of carbohydrates. The cooking times needed are extremely short, and a perfect substitute for any type of carbohydrates that require a long cooking time. There can be a slight difference with some different manufacturer types and grain size of the couscous and bulgur, but this is a general explanation of how to prepare them. You will have perfected the method and the exact amount of water needed after only 3-4 times of trying it.

Boil water in the electric kettle. You will need 2 cups of hot water for every cup of raw couscous you want to make.

Place a glass bowl, large ceramic deep dish or soup-plate onto a hotplate without turning it on! (make sure that the bowl is recommended for use in a microwave-oven and similar)

Pour one cup of couscous or bulgur per person into the bowl, then add one pinch of salt per serving. Pour the hot water into the bowl, two cups of water per cup of raw couscous. Cover the bowl with a lid (and/or a towel). It should be air tight, wrapping any textile towel around the rim of the bowl helps

retain the heat. See also Towel cooking

Leave the bowl on the hotplate for 2-3 minutes, it will cook/steam evenly without any use of electricity from the oven. Remove the lid, stir around in it little with a fork and sprinkle in your choice of spices and/or some olive oil or salad oil and then quickly put the lid back on. For 2-3 more minutes cooking/steaming. Bulgur takes sometimes one or two extra minutes to become ready.

When all the water, steam and oil is soaked up, it is ready. Stir around in it little more, place the bowl on the dining table, remove the lid at the last minute. Tasty examples on spice combinations and recipes for different warm or cold couscous-salads will appear here later

Mashed potatoes (potato-mash)[edit | edit source]

For some food you really must think first, before you proclaim it as energy-efficient. For instance a factory that makes powdered instant-mash out of potatoes, must use electricity. In some aspects it is slightly more efficient to do so (as opposed to you cooking your potatoes and then mashing them) because of large-scale-production and possibilities to reduce some transports (because the weight of the water, humidity is drained from the potatoes in this process). But you should never automatically say it is smarter food, just because you save electricity when you prepare it at home. In each product you need to examine the whole production and consumtion cycle before you can make that judgement. The efficiency and "cost" can be offset somewhere else. See Life cycle analysis

But speaking generally, you could prepare mashed potatoes energyefficient with the method of Towel cooking or in exactly the same way as described above with the Cous-cous.

Boil water in a kettle. Place a bowl on a thick piece of wood or on a cook-range on your electric stove. Prepare a lid and a towel to cover and wrap around the bowl. Measure and pour the amount of water into the bowl, measure the powdered mash and pour into the hot water while whisking for a few seconds to get rid of lumps.

Cover with the lid and wrap the towel around the bowl. Let it sit for a minute or two. Remove the lid and whisk some more. Add some spices of your choice: a pinch of salt, black pepper (Cumin, basil, oregano, Curry, Chili. Lots of options here to pick and choose from)

Cover again with the lid and wrap the towel around it again. Let it sit for another minute. When you are going to serve, check that the mash is mixed enough, the proper thickness, and warm enough all the way through. If it is too loose, you can add an extra pinch of the powdered mash, a knob of butter, and a few drops of milk. Stir to mix it up. If the mash has cooled down too much, put it in a microwave on low heat for 10-20 seconds and stir around again before serving.

Beware: Certain different types of powdered mash demands you to be extremely precise when you measure the water to powder ratio. One tip is to take out some milk and butter in advance from the fridge, so it is room-temperature, so when you whisk the powder in the hot water, you will not cool it down unnecessarily with cold milk or cold butter to make it thicken.

Vegetables[edit | edit source]

There are many beneficial aspects to eating vegetables. There is the health reason along with the carbon footprint compared to other food staples such as meat. There is also the way many types of fruit, vegetables, and legumes require much less cooking to prepare. If people choose a little bit wiser, the reduction in energy and food miles can be reduced a lot, by just taking a couple more percent of "smart vegetables" and reduce a couple of percent on meat and potatoes.


Broccoli is a great example. It is both extremely nutritious as it is packed with elements that are great for our bodies, and it is extremely easy to cook without much energy or water. If you have read the recipe for couscous or porridge above, you can use similar a method to steam-boil your Broccoli. There are some people that boil the heck out of broccoli, until it looks like cauliflower - they destroy a large part of the nutrients, and pour it out along with much of the taste with the water. A good measure of properly cooked broccoli should be its deep green color, and it should still have a little bit of crunch.

Tips & Tricks to save electricity[edit | edit source]

Refrigerators & Deep freezers are appliances that consume a large share of the total electricity cost in private homes. You rely on them to keep your food cold and they are on 24 hours per day, every day of the year. It is expensive to replace them and purchase the newest energy-efficient models.

Every time you open the door of your fridge or freezer you will release some cool air into the room, and make the fridge/freezer a little bit warmer inside. It's compressor will need to start working to cool it back down again. So avoid keeping the door open!

If you are applying advice in this article and changing your eating habits slightly so you primarily shop and eat fresh products and tinned goods, the need for having a freezer is gradually reduced. Some people can even get to the point where they can empty the freezer completely, turn it off, and get to use that free space for storing pans and other kitchen utensils. Next time you need to buy a new fridge/freezer you can reduce your size needs of the interior volume of the freezer.

For many more electricity saving advice in your kitchen see Electric appliances

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. There can be some people in industrialized nations in the north and west that sometimes seem to be taking for granted that the energy, electricity, water and food is relatively abundant, available, cheap and affordable to waste. As the prices on oil, diesel and gasoline rises, so will most likely the price on coal and electricity, and possibly the tax and fees for the utility companies and their emissions.
  2. If you have a gas stove, some methods in this article will not apply to your hotplates. Instead see Towel cooking, or consider buying a big flat stone or piece of metal that is equal in size to the bottom of your pan.
  3. All methods that slightly reduce the need to wash clothes is also helping you save money on electric and water bills.
  4. Unless you are going to cook something else on that hotplate immediately afterwards.
  5. That means for those that prefer 6-7-minute-eggs, the total time you use electricity on the stove is only 3-4 minutes + the 20-40 seconds it took to pre-boil the water in the kettle.
  8. If the oats are not cooked entirely you can add a spoonful of water, stir around and put the lid back on for an extra minute on the hotplate. if you are now in a hurry you can add a spoonful of water, stir around and place the dish in the microwave and cook on low to medium setting for 5-15 seconds.

Further information, description and discussion, concerning how and why this project was started, and what areas it will be limited to and why, see: Talk:Updated cooking methods in modern kitchens

See Also[edit | edit source]

Discussion[View | Edit]

Here on this page, I Johan / Yeahvle, invite you to discuss a couple of aspects of this project.

Do you have additional ideas or perhaps questions about the way i present the theme and why I have these purposes?

Are there further goals and visions that I can add to it, making the concept wider, broader? (of course without losing focus of the original ambitions, purposes and goals)

I would love if the methods could be easily used by anyone. So I invite you to test them out, and give me feedback on how you felt that it worked out for you.

Do you have suggestions on changing, editing, adding anything? If it is spelling or mistakes of smaller things like grammar or stuff like that, feel free to edit the page directly, if you consider yourself able to do so.

Do you have knowledge of other methods that is used in any type of cooking that is beneficial in terms of saving electricity, gas, water, transports? Perhaps together we can attempt to find ways to apply those methods to modern kitchen structures. As long as it is better alternatives to existing waste-ful behaviour. And I am never saying no to hearing about inspirational stories... so hit me with a comment or edit or a line on my talk-page

--Yeahvle 21:25, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

Information and project explanations[edit source]

At first the project was simply personal (for me, Johan (the user : Yeahvle ) but I will appreciate further additions and development from other users, if they have some inspiration from cooking in many undeveloped parts of the world. Primarily the article is only about ideas and methods that can be applied to modern kitchen equipment.

A personal ambition right now is to not mention anything about climate crisis, carbon footprint, environmental impact, side effects about waste or anything like that, that potentially could reduce the potential massive impact of this concept. I will use this mindset in a test to try if the focus of this project will be making it more easily adapted by everyone that is normally not interested in living green. I hope you will respect that ambition and follow along in my train of thought, for a while, it is only an effort of me to try to change the focus from the infected climate debate onto the solidarity to all other individuals living now and to those in the future.

I, Johan / Yeahvle, was originally thinking about writing a book on this topic, without telling it is really a promotion for sustainability and green living in modern world, but I would like the information to become spread as fast as possible, and to as many as possible, and I have no interest of personal profit from this project.

So, gradually the article here will sprout and grow with more information, recipes, methods and illustrations. I do not have a camera, so if you attempt to cook something using any of my methods I would be glad if you submitted your photos (small sizes please)(if you upload them solely for this article please use this at the start of your filename "Yeahvle_Cooking" so it will not be lost or erased in the filing cabinets of appropedia)

I hope these simple cooking methods will be appreciated, used by many, become well-known and spread to many, in order to help inspire and change behavior ever so slightly among many in north and western world.

And in a later stage I want to compile and release this project entirely in a book form. Both the article aswell as many of the notes and discussions about how and where it was created. And I will print copies and try to sell at different outlets (second-hand-shops, thrift-stores, used-clothes-markets)

So if you add something/anything to this project, I hope that you will agree with the general Creative Commons licence of appropedia and that you understand you will get no profit at all from your contribution as I plan to donate all future income from this project to other small projects that benefit poor people or improvements to alter the life in richer peoples lives towards nega-watt-thinking or a zero-emission-life.

I know that wikis are better if the articles are written neutrally. And as I mostly write from a very personal point of view, I am trying to change. Please have patience with me, i am trying to go back and edit and alter my texts as I go along.

--Yeahvle 19:59, 20 November 2010 (UTC) --Yeahvle 11:26, 22 November 2010 (UTC)

Why is this project needed?[edit source]

Everyone eats food! People eat 2-4 times per day. Storing groceries and preparing it at home uses energy and takes sometimes a long time. Buying ready-made, eating at restaurants or ordering take-out often requires driving with a car, that wastes also a lot of money and fuel. With learning some smart methods families get knowledge that potentially can cut their electricity costs for cooking in half!

Why not start somewhere else? Everything else that people do is very individual and difficult to make simple changes to. Buildings are difficult and expensive to re-build and retro-fit with more insulation in the walls and/or multiple-glazed windows. Cars is sometimes needed by people depending on how far away they live from work, shops and the local bus routes.

And people don't really need an instruction or manual to make them take the bike to work, or try to find the closest bus route to make them change those habits.

The best advice those people would benefit from is to plan better, and try to move closer to their work place some time in the future, or choose their next home depending on its energy-efficiency and location relative to shops and collective transport systems like bus-routes/subway-stations and so on. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Yeahvle, 19:34, 27 November 2010

Comments[edit source]

Some comments about the article:

  • Title: the article title is prone to date quicklyW when newer cooking methods appear, and does not clearly reflect the article contents, which are specifically about low-energy cooking in modern kitchens, without regard to when the methods originated or were adopted. Also, the word "methods" appears unnecessary, because cooking is unavoidably about methods. Even the word "modern" will eventually become dated, but that should be OK for a few decades if we cannot think of a more durable term. Thus I suggest moving the article to:
Yes, I agree that this title is strange, but I think the first word should be Cooking or Food. I still haven't worked out the best option yet. And would like to hear some more suggestions, especially versions that keep it open to being used in another technique I am going to write about: "Food storage with reducing energy in modern kitchens" --Yeahvle 01:15, 10 January 2011 (PST)
  • The "why" should be separate from the "how", perhaps in a separate advocacy article. Readers will probably divide into two groups:
    • Those who need to be convinced they should cook with less energy. (Not ready for the "how" yet.)
    • Those who are already convinced. (Probably less interested in the "why" by now.)
Yes, I agree, but have not worked out exactly how to draw the line.--Yeahvle 01:15, 10 January 2011 (PST)
  • Departures from Wikipedia Manual of Style.W I am still relatively inexperienced on Appropedia (most of my editing has been on WikipediaW) so I do not know to what extent this site intends to adhere to Wikipedia's style. If the intent is to style our articles similar to Wikipedia's, I can easily do that here.
I have no to little experience of wiki and appropedia. And I started to write this article with the intent of publishing the info as a guide-book later. --Yeahvle 01:15, 10 January 2011 (PST)
  • Need links to related content on Appropedia, such as Fireless cookers. A navigation template would help with that. I can make one after I port Wikipedia:Template:Navbox to Appropedia.
  • Need to research similar material available elsewhere online. No need to re-invent wheels.
I have done research. The thing I focus on is ease of application for anyone, without requiring user to build something. And most methods described involve some that can cause spills and unneccessary difficult manouevres: lifting a pot and placing it inside a tight fitting box or vessel. So many users will not continue using the techniques when they feel it is too much cleaning up afterwards. So it is the simplicity of the actions I want to promote. --Yeahvle 01:15, 10 January 2011 (PST)

KVDP 01:56, 27 December 2011 (PST)

  • Additional tips or benefits not mentioned:
    • Replace charred stove drip pans with shiny chrome-plated new drip pans. Up to 30% energy saving immediately, because the shiny pan reflects infrared radiation back up to the pot. A charred black drip pan absorbs infrared radiation and gets hotter, re-radiating heat away from pot. I have personally tried this and noted I was able to turn down the stove a step while getting the same cooking time.
I do not want this project to involve unneccesary investment. And you see that I focus primarily on electrical stoves, they are the most common in european homes. Yes, a black object gets heated up, but releasing that energy slowly straight upwards. so don't worry about it too much --Yeahvle 01:15, 10 January 2011 (PST)
  • Modern insulated pots allow fireless cooking techniques: the cook initially warms the inner pot on the burner for 10 minutes, then places the heated inner pot in the insulated outer pot to continue cooking without additional heat. I have not personally gotten around to trying this, but I intend to.
Somehow proves my point : being a bit too tricky to try. simply use a lid and place the heated pot on a stone or thick hard-wood-board. That improves the efficiency quite a bit. --Yeahvle 01:15, 10 January 2011 (PST)
  • Using less energy to cook is advantageous in hot weather, as it reduces undesirable heat gain in the house. This lets the air conditioner use less energy, or improves comfort if no air conditioning is used.

--Teratornis 13:28, 9 January 2011 (PST)

  • And keep the drip pan clean to avoid charring it again with new spills. Wash it off after any spill, rather than cooking again over the spilled material, which will bake and char it into the pan surface. --Teratornis 13:31, 9 January 2011 (PST)
There should not be any spills if the method is very simple. --Yeahvle 01:15, 10 January 2011 (PST)
  • Also need to quantify the gains from different techniques. How much energy (or money, or carbon emissions) can someone save by adopting these techniques? What fraction of a typical person's utility bill goes to cooking? Just knowing that something is "better" is not enough. People need to know how much better. --Teratornis 13:34, 9 January 2011 (PST)
Again, as I go for the simplest education style, just saying a little lower utility bill is enough incentive for many to try it for themselves. Compare with low-energy light bulbs, noone really does the math when buying those, we just change, because it is general knowledge. So I do not fully agree with "People need to know how much".
Thanks a lot for all your comments! I appreciate it! --Yeahvle 01:15, 10 January 2011 (PST)
People can follow the herd without knowing why. But for someone to get ahead of the crowd, they probably need to know the numbers. For example, most people do not seem to have any idea of the fuel they consume by flying, since the airlines make a point of obscuring it. Most people probably cannot relate the energy they save by recycling, or changing light bulbs, to the energy they burn by flying. For many people it seems travel is exempt from this calculation. But the carbon dioxide behaves the same way regardless of the source. Actually flying may have a larger impact on warming because the emissions are released at high altitude. --Teratornis 21:53, 28 February 2011 (PST)

Electricity consumption[edit source]

As a first little reference on how I personally could cut my utility bills in half : from 1 200 kWh / year, to a new estimate of 550-650 kWh / year. ( Total yearly cost for 2011 is estimated to becoming below 200 Euro, or 300$ incl energy tax and VAT)

  • First I turned off my freezer (2006 or 2007?)
  • I threw away my old TV (now i watch news and films on internet, using a very low energy computer and LCD-display)
  • I have only low-energy lightbulbs, some are 2W LED!
  • But I still turn off lights when i leave that room they are in.
  • (Sometimes when I go to bathroom i sit in the dark for most of the time)
  • I stopped using phones in 2008 or 2009, simpler to use email and facebook to keep in touch with family & friends. (no need for chargers sitting in the socket 24/7) (and of course meeting them face to face once in a while)
  • I prepare vegetarian food 2-3 days per week. Cous-cous-salads are very versatile and easy to change daily with different herbs, spices and fresh vegetables. (estimated yearly cost for food have also dropped drastically, now it is between 1 200$ - 1 500$ per year for me, that is little bit below 1 000 Euro)
  • The rest of the days I try to cook with using different types of tinned, conserved fish products, that can sit in room temperature for up to a year. Tuna, Mackerell and so on.
  • I never boil potatoes or rice anymore.
  • I can turn off my fridge for the weeks that I do not need to store any dairy or fresh products like meat.

If I need to store a fresh product at fridge temperature: It takes only 2 hours for the fridge to get to working temperature. Because I put big chunks of styrofoam on some of the shelves, reducing the amount of free air. Insulating the fridge for the seconds that I open the door.

notes: heating of my small apartment (45 square metres) and the heating of hot water for bathroom and sink is done with a citywide centralized system that is producing the heat from biofuels, wind and waterpower. So my utility bill is strictly measuring consumption for all of the wall sockets, lights, computer, radio, cooking. (I have no gas costs.)

note 2: electricity in sweden is roughly 45% Nuclear, 45% large scale Hydro-power dams, 2-3% wind and solar, rest is diesel, coal and imported from neighbouring countries, which also have a lot of renewable. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Yeahvle, 18:42, 26 February 2011

That's pretty good. You use less electricity in a year than the average household uses in a month where I live. I made Google spreadsheets of my natural gas and electricity usage since 1999. --Teratornis 00:54, 29 February 2012 (PST)

Improved efficiency for boiling water over a gas flame[edit source]

While watching documentary videos about high speed trains, I saw this segment that illustrates how the wikipedia:Stephenson's Rocket set the standard for steam locomotive design since the 1830s, by combining the multi-tubular boiler with the blast pipe:

I do not care too much about steam locomotives, but the demonstration of rapid boiling with the multi-tubular pan over the gas flame caught my interest.

Now I am wondering if all the cooking pans on gas stoves around the world are boiling water inefficiently, since they do not direct the hot combustion gases through tubes that pass through the interior of the pan, as in the video segment above. I have been playing around with some gasifying wood stoves I made from two empty food cans of two different sizes, similar to the many designs on YouTube (for example DIY: How to make a backpacking wood gasifier stove). The gasifying stove can produce a tall jet of flame but since I only use it outdoors the wind blows the flame around and a teakettle requires a substantial fire before it will get hot enough to boil. (I do not drink tea but I like to eat rice, potatoes, rice, oatmeal, and noodles which require boiling, so I am interested in other methods of boiling water besides my electric stove.) Presumably this would be less of an issue with an electric stove, since the stove element contacts the bottom of a pan efficiently. However, for boiling water with electricity I suspect a more efficient method is to use an electric teakettle appliance that immerses the heating element in the water for complete contact. I will have to find some comparisons of the various methods. The energy efficiency of cooking seems to get little coverage in most media outlets that cover cooking. --Teratornis 00:54, 29 February 2012 (PST)

I've seen some kind of "efficient wood stove" (a DIY effort at a friend's place, I think) and the saucepan fitted snugly into the top of the stove, and IIUC, the hot flue gases were directly all around the outside of the pot. So you can't easily switch between pots of different sizes, but it should be much more efficient than the standard open cooktop.
Some comparisons would be great. I think you're probably right about the electric kettle. --Chriswaterguy 08:37, 29 February 2012 (PST)
It's probably in rounding-error territory compared to the big contributors to personal carbon footprint such as driving, flying, and heating. (For example, even driving a Prius - the most fuel-efficient car sold in the US besides the handful of all-electrics - the average American distance of 12,000 miles per year spews about 3.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide, and cooking for one person generates far less. A slight improvement in cooking efficiency would have a tiny impact compared to the choice to live car-free.) But still, there are 7 billion people on Earth now and probably every single one of them either eats cooked food or would like to. And in poor countries there are shortages of cooking fuel, so any improvement in efficiency would help. It's possible that boiling water in a conventional pan over an open flame consumes several times more fuel than necessary. We should also calculate the ideal case which would be the minimum amount of fuel required to heat an amount of water from room temperature to boiling, if all the heat of combustion could end up in the water. Then compare that to the observed efficiencies of locomotive multi-tubular boilers. --Teratornis 15:35, 3 March 2012 (PST)
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