Cool Weather? Turn Up The (oven) Heat

Weather’s cooling down, and it’s so nice. I love layering up, yet still wearing my Birkenstocks. I look forward to those hot morning cups of coffee a little more. In the daytime I still have the windows open because the air smells so fresh and it feels so crisp. The house can cool down pretty fast though, so I am mindful. And baking has increased to warm our bellies and our home. I have already baked three types of loaves for lunches and snacks all made from autumn goodness like sweet potato, butternut squash and apple.

But even with the weather cooling down, I don’t like turning the furnace on until I really need to. In our house, we try to go as long as November 1st before turning the heat on. Some autumns we’ve had to turn it on a little early, but we almost always get to the first of November.

Being energy-efficient in your home is easy to do, incredibly easy on your budget and really easy on the planet. Any way to keep the furnace off as long as possible is good for Mother Nature and your pocketbook. And we all could stand to save a little more money, especially in preparation for the holidays just in the horizon. Of course, make sure your house is sealed well to prevent leaks of warm air out and cold air in. There’s a super cool service that’s FREE (yes, I have done it twice) that will audit your home’s efficiency and provide tips and coupons and more all from eMERGE.

I have three super easy tips to keep you warm while saving you money:

  1. Be smart with window coverings. When the sun is shining on a window, keep the coverings open. But once those rays have stopped directly hitting that window, shut the curtains. This will act as an insulator for the warmth that’s contained in the home. In the morning, I open all the blinds and curtains for direct sunlight to warm up the house (and to save turning on lights), but then, in the late afternoon when I get home from work, I start to shut curtains and blinds at the front of my house that already got morning light.
  2. Layer up. This is a simple one, yet I can’t tell you how many people I know already have turned on their heat and are walking around in t-shirts. Not smart! Instead, slip into some cozy sweats, add a hoodie, toss on some slipper socks and indulge in a hot toddy or cuppa.
  3. Bulk cook in your oven. Here’s the thing: your oven just isn’t efficient. Most electric ovens draw between 2000 and 5000 watts. Comparatively, a clothes dryer (the least efficient appliance in the home) uses about 4000 watts. My favourite tip for warming up the house on some of those really cool nights is to cook 2-3 meals for the week at one time using the oven. You’re charged less to use your electrical appliances in the evening, after 7:00 p.m. It’s cooler at night, so take advantage because that’s when you want to start warming up the house.
Ceramic pans filled with raw vegetables to be cooked.
Two meals prepped and ready to be baked at the same time: [top] roast potatoes and veg to accompany a meat dish; [bottom] seasoned cauliflower for a vegan alternative to butter chicken.

It’s more energy-efficient to cook multiple dishes at once, so plan your cooking accordingly. This is where meal-planning comes into play. Don’t forget to use your microwave, stove-top toaster oven or the small burner to heat up the leftovers at a fraction of the cost of using your oven. With that last tip in mind, here are some more helpful reminders to be extra productive:

  • Keep the oven door closed. You lose heat energy every time you open it, so use the oven light and look through the window instead.
  • Use glass and ceramic bakeware instead of metal pans. They transfer heat more effectively and evenly.
  • Clean your oven and range regularly. Baked-on gunk acts like insulation on top of your heating elements making the process less efficient. But just do it by hand.
  • Don’t use your self-cleaning option. It’s an extreme energy-sucker. Just don’t.
Interior of an oven showing two pans with vegetables being cooked.
That’s 3 meals in one oven: [left] two types of roasted carrots, one for a roast dinner and one for a roasted carrot soup; [right] sliced peppers for vegetarian fajitas and a intact roast pepper for the carrot soup.

When we get home from work, sometimes by 5:00 p.m. in October, our house can read 18 degrees. Just cooking in the house and having all our bodies in there can bring it up between 19-21 degrees. It perfectly dips back down to 18 degrees by around 11:00 p.m. when most of the household is asleep (I go to bed late, I admit!). We all sleep comfortably in the cool temperature with nice, thick, warm blankets and the kids have long-sleeved pjs.

What’s more perfect than a cozy kid, tucked in bed, all warm and sleepy, while you’re watching a movie all bundled up in layers enjoying a nightcap? NOTHING! It’s perfect. Oh, and all the while you’re saving money on your utility bills so you have more money for whatever you want (nightcaps included). Nothing easier than that.

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