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How Much Electricity Does It Take to Cook a Holiday Meal?

How Much Electricity Does It Take to Cook a Holiday Meal?

Whether you are making a small dinner for two or have invited over three generations of your extended family, chances are you plan to be in the kitchen a lot more for the holidays. This might mean having the oven on much longer than your usual cooking time, having multiple devices in use such as a blender, mixer, toaster, microwave, or broiler, and there will surely be a few runs of the dishwasher at the end of it all.

Here are some interesting facts about energy use during the holidays. Maybe you can share these over the holiday meal?

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the average holiday turkey (particularly for a traditional Thanksgiving meal) weighs about 15 pounds and is expected to feed around 12 people. You’ll have to do the math if you are getting a smaller bird, a larger turkey, cooking more than one turkey, or possibly opting for a tofurkey or turducken instead. That 15-pound turkey will take about 3.5 hours to cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and in a conventional oven that comes to 2,400 watts in that time period.

The Energy Use Calculator puts this number even higher though. “Ovens use 1000 to 5000 watts, with an average modern oven using around 2400 watts on medium to high heat,” their website states, estimating this amount per hour. Other sources estimate that is could be as much as 8,000 watts (or 8 kilowatts) to cook a Thanksgiving turkey.

None of these figures calculate for cooking pies, green bean casserole, or that dish of sweet potatoes so there is surely even more electricity being used for a whole meal during the holidays.

Check out these tips for safely cleaning your oven before the big day to make this important appliance as efficient as possible.

Be Energy Friendly

No matter what type of oven you are using, there are ways to make cooking a turkey and the rest of your meal use less energy, but it’s hard to calculate exactly the difference for each change.

  1. Bag your turkey in an oven-safe plastic bag that locks in the juicy flavor and can cut down roasting time by five minutes per pound.
  2. Use glass or ceramic dishes rather than metal since these retain heat better meaning you don’t need the oven temperature as high for those tasty side dishes. For those with induction stovetops, the is electricity and energy saving built in.
  3. Does it need to go in the oven? That is, do you have a side dish that could be heated in the microwave instead? It will be faster and therefore use less energy.
  4. Get creative with dessert and don’t bake it—you’ll need to Google some recipes, but who will say no to a no-bake pumpkin mousse?

Safety First and Always

Does your kitchen have enough outlets, including those with GFCI or AFCI? Typically you might not be using the blender and the mixer and other appliances all at once, but when you are preparing a once-a-year special meal for the whole family, your electrical system might get overloaded.

Are your smoke detectors up to date? Not that you plan to burn anything on this special, but just in case things get overheated, you want to be alerted and safe.

If you’re concerned about having enough outlets in the kitchen, or the correct ones, call Mister Sparky for a home safety inspection. It’s better to prevent an issue than to address a disaster such as a blown circuit or even an electrical fire.

Time for Clean Up

Not everyone has a mechanical dishwasher, but for those who do, don’t worry too much about the extra duty. Dishwashers use less electricity than ovens, for starters. Also, if you have an ENERGY STAR appliance, the impact is really minimized.

Still, any dishwasher is going to use electricity. A general estimate is that a dishwasher will use between 1,200 to 2,400 watts of electricity for a regular cycle. Making sure that the dishwasher is fully loaded is one way to make each cycle as energy efficient as possible. Also, running the dishwasher during non-peak times can help to make it more energy efficient.

Enjoy your festivities and be sure to call Mister Sparky if you are ready to make a change from a gas to electric oven, or just want to verify that your smoke detectors are in working order.

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