How to Save Money in the Kitchen

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The following article is by MPFJ staff writer, Miss T from Prairie Eco-Thrifter. If you want to learn how to live your dream life in a sustainable, healthy, and money savvy way, check out her site here.

These days, money is tight, and many people are constantly looking for ways to save some cash. While it’s hard to find any big savings around the house, I have found that it’s possible to save small amounts in several different areas that add up to a considerable sum. 

Here are some ideas to help you save money in the kitchen:

There are numerous areas where you can save money in the kitchen, but in this article we’ll look at energy and water consumption. 

Energy and Water Saving Idea # 1 – Reduce Your Usage

Because you pay for what you use in electricity, gas and water, the obvious way to save money is to reduce how much you use. Teach yourself, and other household members, the basics of reducing your everyday energy and water usage in the kitchen. These include turning off the lights when you leave the room, turning appliances off at the wall when not in use to avoid them using power while on stand-by, changing some settings on your appliances, and using the least amount of power and water to cook your food.

Energy and Water Saving Idea # 2 – Utilize Newer, More-Efficient Lighting Technology

The type of lighting you use in the kitchen can help you save electricity costs. Change the old incandescent light bulbs for newer energy-efficient types, such as CFLs, LEDs, and halogens. Manufacturers of these types of light bulbs claim that we can save up to $6 in power costs for every incandescent light bulb we replace. That really appeals to me, and it is so simple to do!

In a kitchen, use a CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) in your central light fitting, to light up the whole room. These use about 70% less power and last up to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs, so you will be saving money right there. According to the EPA, replacing a 60 watt incandescent bulb for a 13 watt CFL (which will give you the same strength of light) will save you $30 in electricity costs for the life of that bulb. That fact alone was enough to send me off to buy CFLs, and I was surprised at how much cheaper they are now.

Halogen bulbs give a direct, spotlight type of bright light and are ideal for placing above a kitchen counter where you do most of your food preparation. This is what I did, having a row of 7 halogens recessed into the ceiling above the main counter top. These are so effective that we rarely use the central light at all. LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are also increasingly being used in a similar way to halogens and will also save you money on your electricity costs.

Energy and Water Saving Idea # 3 – Optimize Your Refrigerator

Did you know, appliances account for around 13% of your energy bill? This information comes from the Energy Star organization, so it would be pretty accurate. The major kitchen appliance, the refrigerator, is responsible for 8% of this figure so I thought that this could be an area where I would be able to save money. When I did some research, I found that refrigerators generally use more power than lights, which dented my belief that I could save the most money by controlling how many lights were used in the house.

I also found that most people run their refrigerators too cold for most of the year. The ideal temperature for a refrigerator is between 36 and 40 degrees, but many people keep the temperature lower than this. The EPA says that if your refrigerator is 10 degrees or more below the optimum temperature, it could be increasing your power bill by 25%. This is one easy way to save money in the kitchen – check the temperature inside your refrigerator with a thermometer and adjust it accordingly. Also adjust it in the different seasons as the ambient air temperature can determine how cold you need to set the refrigerator.

Other money saving tips for the refrigerator include: 

  • Not putting hot food in; cool it first. 
  • Thaw frozen foods inside the refrigerator to reduce power usage.
  • Limit the number of times you open the door.
  • Position the appliance away from a heat source such as the oven.
  • Have a space around the refrigerator to allow the heat from the motor to escape
  • Give the condenser a good clean every six months or so.
  • Check the seals are intact and replace them if necessary. 
  • When it comes time to replace your old refrigerator, choose one with the highest energy rating you can afford.

Energy and Water Saving Idea # 4 – Optimize Your Dish Washer

The dishwasher is probably the next big appliance in the kitchen. Most people know it is more efficient to run the dishwasher when it’s full, but did you also know that you can adjust some of the settings on many models to reduce energy usage? 

Check the manual to see if you can lower the temperature your dishwasher heats the water to; 120 degrees is adequate to properly clean the dishes. Turn off the “Rinse Hold” button if the dishes aren’t very dirty. This function alone uses between three and seven gallons of water. If there is an automatic air dry switch on your machine, use it to let the dishes dry naturally. If not, turn the control to ‘off’ after the rinse cycle has completed and open the door slightly to allow the dishes to air dry.

Energy and Water Saving Idea # 5 – Optimize Your Freezer

If you have a separate freezer like we do, there’s also cost-saving strategies you can use with it. Keep the temperature at 5 degrees for effective freezing unless you have a unit especially for long-term storage of food, in which case it needs to be at zero degrees. Freezers work most efficiently when they are full, unlike refrigerators that work most efficiently when not overly packed.

Energy and Water Saving Idea # 6 – Limit Use of Hot Water

Water usage is another big area where you can save money in the kitchen. Limit the number of times you use the hot water faucet, especially when you only need a little water. The water that comes out of the hot faucet is cold at first, but you are using energy to heat the water taken from the water heater, so only use the hot faucet when you need a bigger quantity of hot water. Fix dripping faucets by replacing washers to avoid wasting water. Scrape dishes rather than rinsing them and only use the amount of water needed when hand dishwashing, rather than filling the sink.

Energy and Water Saving Idea # 7 – Check Your Cooking Appliances

Cooking appliances is the final area I considered when looking for ways to save money in the kitchen. With gas cookers, try to buy one with electronic ignition rather than one that needs a pilot light to be constantly burning gas. Check the color of the flame of natural gas appliances – blue is good; yellow means that it is not burning efficiently and may need some adjustment.

Make sure you keep all burners and reflectors on your range clean so they will reflect the heat and use less energy. Always cover kettles, pots and pans when bringing them to the boil as they heat faster and use less energy. Your appliance will work more efficiently if you choose a pan that is the same size as the actual heating element. When cooking small amounts of food, it is more energy-efficient to use a small appliance like a toaster or convection oven or an electric pan than firing up the big stove. These smaller appliances can use up to 50% less power than a large oven.

I hope you can use some of these methods to save money in the kitchen in your home. a great side benefit is that, while you are saving yourself some cash, you are also helping the environment in many cases. That’s a win all round in my book.

How about you all? What changes have you made in your kitchen to help you save money? Have you ever used any of these tips above?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

    ***Photo courtesy of


    1. myfijourney says:

      It's important to measure the temperature of your refrigerator, not just to make sure that it isn't too cold, but also to make sure that it isn't too warm. A few degrees too warm, and you'll find that food goes bad faster.
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      • Very good idea MyFIJourney! We have to do that same sort of thing every once in a while with the freezers and refrigerators in our lab as well! haha
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    2. Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence says:

      an empty fridge costs more money than a full fridge because cooling the air is more expensive than cooling the food. If my fridge is too empty I put a few bottles of soda and I always put bags of flour, sugar… inside too but that is so the heat and humidity don't ruin it.
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      • Thanks for sharing Pauline! With me being a chemical engineer, that would actually be an interesting heat transfer experiment to determine how freezers and fridges perform if full or not full!
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    3. We just replaced our overhead kitchen light with a fluorescent bulb, and we always check the faucets for dripping. You can also turn down the hot water heater to save money on the hot water that you use. THE BIGGEST MONEY SAVER IS TO STOP USING PAPER TOWELS! Use a rag to clean up a mess, not a paper towel, because it could save you more than you expect.
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      • Good insights there Rob! Thanks for commenting. Do you have any estimates for how much you can save by turning down the water heater? That might be something I should try because my hot water is always way too hot all by itself!
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