Monday, November 30

Saving Energy With Mainstream Solar Cooking

Mainstream Solar Cooking Means Saving Energy
Mainstream solar cooks take advantage of the full spectrum of cooking appliances -- without guilt. No one is going to say that they aren't interested in saving the earth's fossil fuels (that's an assumption, I know; but, I feel pretty safe here) or in reducing their own energy bills because they are -- they're just not fanatics about it.  The chart on the left was compiled by a group of youngsters calling themselves Carbon Kids who have been actively involved in finding ways to reduce consumption of fossil fuels in their world and for the future. This link Residential Electricity Usage Increase Since 1983 in US  describes all the wonderful work that they do. Mainstream solar cooks incorporate the green practice of solar cooking into their own lifestyles.

It's all based on what you want for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.The only difference is that, if your recipe calls for oven time, the mainstream solar cook will also check to see if there's enough sun to take advantage of using her solar oven.  And, sometimes, solar cooking has to be combined with the conventional oven! The weather channel got it wrong and your dealing with dinner and cloud cover. It happens. No guilt.

Small Appliances Are Solar Cook's Friends
In spite of the many people who tell you they don't cook, The Residential Energy Consumption Survey done by the US Energy Information Administration found that, if there are
 two or more people in an American household, 73% prepare at least 1-2 hot meals per day! The less income, the more reliance on conventional ovens, stovetops, and microwaves. The higher the income, the more single-purpose small gadgets and appliances are used, as well. What they have in common is that they all use fossil fuels in some form to perform.

And, again, thanks to the Carbon Kids, that group of innovative young people finding ways to reduce energy consumption, we now have a chart showing just how much our energy usage has grown in just a little over fifty years.

This growth is astounding in the residential sector, almost 81% since 1948. Additional research shows that the best energy-saving appliances are the microwave oven, pressure cooker, and slow cooker. Convential ovens and stovetops consume the most energy, as much as 5,000 BTUs in an hour. In an effort to reduce utility bills, supersized, expensive, outdoor grills have entered mainstream cooking. They use from 25,000 BTUs - 75,000 BTUs per cooking session and cost from $190 to $4,000! Most are gas or electric-powered. These are not the little table-top grills for fast hamburgers. These are meant for serious meals and hours of operation. Pellet stoves (Green Eggs) use recycled compressed sawdust and, for that reason, are more eco-friendly. The solar oven is the only appliance with a FREE fuel source. And, the price is very reasonable, considering it will last for 20-30 years with reasonable care.

Recipes Often Require Two Cooking Processes
No matter how much we love one-pot meals, there comes a time when we want to see our veggies and proteins stand alone on the plate. Casseroles and stews are delish -- and, I'm a soup freak -- but I still enjoy seeing and savoring a bite of meat, creamy mashed potatoes, and the asparagus lined up like soldiers on my plate.

Recipes often start out with either parboiling, searing, or sweating our foods before the final baking. Sous vide cooking is a prime example. We are so accustomed to multi-part food preparation, we barely give it a second thought. Well, that's how you use a solar oven -- in combination with other processes. You may well have to finish a solar meal in the microwave or conventional oven. Weather is like that. That's mainstream solar cooking.

But do yourself a favor and find out how many sunny days and partially-sunny days you have available to you in your state and take advantage of the benefits of solar cooking. You will see a difference in your utility bill and you will be doing your part in saving our fossil fuels for the next generation. More importantly, you'll love the food!


  1. Sharlene, I really appreciate all the information and inspiration about solar cooking you provide here on your blog.

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  5. It was great idea to use solar we all need to do this.

  6. Even though I am here for the first time, I am very impressed with your post. Thanks for sharing.

  7. This is one of the greatest article ever, Thanks for sharing this information with us.

  8. Thanks for the detailed article on this topic. I would like to see more such awesome articles from you.

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  10. Why is a solar oven considered the most environmentally friendly appliance in the context of fuel use? Telkom University


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