K-State Research and Extension News
October 17, 2012
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Ten Tips to Trim Utility Costs, Improve Efficiency in Kitchen

MANHATTAN, Kan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service estimates about 20 percent of the energy used in the United States is used for food production, transport, processing, packaging, distribution, storage, sales and household food handling.

While much is out of an individual’s control, Kansas State University professor Mary Meck Higgins said she believes “most people could be able to reduce household utility costs in the kitchen.”

Higgins, who also is a food and nutrition specialist with K-State Research and Extension and a registered dietitian, has written a new K-State Research and Extension fact sheet titled “Making Everyday Choices for a Healthy, Sustainable Diet.” She includes cost-saving changes that are fairly easy to incorporate into everyday living.

Examples of her tips include:

1) If hand-washing dishes, allow them to soak first; after washing, rinse in batches, and turn off the water between batches. Use hot water for washing, cool water for rinsing.

2) If using a dishwasher, wait until a dishwasher is full before running it; choose the shortest cycle to accomplish the job, and allow the dishes to air dry.

3) Defrost food in the refrigerator, rather than under running water.

4) Check refrigerator and freezer seals, which should be airtight. Clean the seals regularly, and replace as needed.

5) Open the refrigerator or freezer door as needed, but close it as soon as possible to retain internal temperature.

6) Turn off an icemaker when additional ice is not needed.

7) Follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning coils and the interior and exterior of the appliance.

8) Use all appliances as directed by the manufacturer. Take the time to read the manual when the appliance is purchased, and review it periodically. For example, a refrigerator or freezer should be about 2/3 full (but not crowded) so air can circulate and cool the foods stored within. Overcrowding generally reduces efficiency.

9) Minimize pre-heating time when using an appliance, and use a microwave oven instead of heating a stove, when possible.

10) If replacing an appliance, check energy efficiency before buying.

The new fact sheet, “Making Everyday Choices for a Healthy, Sustainable Diet,” MF 3060, is available at local K-State Research and Extension offices throughout the state, and online.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Nancy Peterson
K-State Research & Extension News

Mary Meck Higgins, R.D., Ph.D., is available at 785-532-1671 or mhiggins@ksu.edu