Talking Turkey: How to Cut Down Your Energy Use on Thanksgiving

Most of us are familiar with the potential for weight gain that arrives each Thanksgiving, as we gather around the family dining table to gorge ourselves on carbs. Far fewer people realize Thanksgiving can also represent a spike in energy use for the holiday hosts: Guests coming and going, ovens cooking round-the-clock, and appliances on overdrive are just a few of the reasons energy use spikes around Thanksgiving. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some simple tips to help end the unwelcome tradition of higher energy bills following your Thanksgiving celebration:

Turn down the thermostat

Before guests arrive, you can turn your thermostat down a few degrees. All that added heat coming from the kitchen will serve as one source of heat. Your guests serve as another. According to Dan Phillips, energy program analyst for Wabash Valley Power Alliance, the average person generates between 300 and 500 British Thermal Units (BTUs) per hour. So, if you host a big crowd on Thanksgiving, your guests will offset some of the heat loss from the temperature dropping in late November and the revolving door of visitors.

Use the slow cooker

Even though the slow cooker typically takes a lot longer than the oven to cook a dish, it requires a lot less energy. It also frees up the oven for other dishes. Don’t forget to follow the old Ronco catch phrase when using your slow cooker, “Set it and forget it!” Each time you open the lid on your slow cooker, you extend your cooking time by up to 25 minutes. Though it may be tempting to sneak a peek, you’re better off letting the slow cooker do its work undisturbed.

Buy a smaller bird

The larger the Thanksgiving turkey, the longer it takes to cook. So don’t buy a turkey bigger than your needs. Also, be sure to cook side dishes at the same time you’re roasting the turkey. This will cut down on oven use; this is one of the major culprits in Thanksgiving energy consumption. Many people will agree the side dishes are the real stars of the show anyway.

Let the dishwasher do the dirty work

When Grandma starts gathering up the grandkids to clear all the plates, tell her the dishwasher has it handled — to save the planet, of course. Scrape plates instead of rinsing with hot water. Your dishwasher will save energy and water. Wait until you have a full load before starting the dishwasher. Pro tip: Stop the appliance before the heated dry cycle. Just open the door and let your dishes air-dry to save even more energy.

With a little thought and a bit of planning, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a drain on the electric grid or your bank account. Put the tips outlined above in use to avoid running up the energy this year. You’ll be thankful you did.