Be “Energy Wise” in Your Kitchen With These Green Tips

Green Spotlight:  Notes From Nancy Grant

In every department at Valley Natural Foods Co-op, staff members have found many ways to use energy wisely and prevent waste, while still providing the best service and highest quality foods.

Have you thought about how you could put some of their good ideas into practice at home?

Did you know that the biggest energy user in your kitchen is the refrigerator/freezer?

The temperature in the refrigerator compartment must be set between 36 ˚ and 38 ˚ F. In the freezer, the safe temperature range is between 0 ˚ and 5 ˚ F. That’s because the point of keeping foods cool is to prevent the growth of bacteria. Resetting the temperature controls to use less energy is not an option.

Instead, check to make certain that the gaskets around the doors seal tightly. A dollar bill shut in the door should take a good tug to pull out. Repeat this simple test in different spots all around both doors. If you find a gap, call an appliance repair service to fix the problem.

When it’s time for spring cleaning, don’t forget to vacuum behind and under your refrigerator –dust build-up can interfere with your appliance’s performance and waste energy.

A common energy-saving tip recommends letting cooked foods cool partially before putting them into the ‘fridge. But food safety guides note that these items can quickly become dangerous at room temperature. A smart compromise is to read package labels and cookbooks carefully, then set a kitchen timer to remind you when to put leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer.

The University of Minnesota Extension Service offers great tips about food safety and energy efficiency at

Energy journalist and blogger Nancy S. Grant is a member of the Cooperative Communicators Association.

Click here to read the Valley Natural Foods Green Report 2010.

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