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Nov. 26, 2021

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Energy Adviser: How much energy does Turkey Day meal use?

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Few holiday meals put the family kitchen through its paces quite like a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Whether you’re the type who begins preparation days ahead of time or knocks it all out in one busy Thursday, you’re sure to get your money’s worth out of your oven and stovetop.

Speaking of money, have you ever stopped to consider how much energy it requires to cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal, or thought about ways you can use less? Let’s look into it.

Of course, everyone has their own tricks, techniques and traditions to cooking a holiday meal — some dishes absolutely must be homemade, others, well, it might be OK if one pie is form the store — but, for sake of argument, let’s look at things from a general perspective.

Say this year’s Thanksgiving meal includes a homemade selection of turkey, stuffing, rolls, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and a pumpkin pie — all prepared with an electric oven and stovetop that draws 2 kw per hour. That in mind, here are the power estimates broken down by the U.S. Marine Corps Community Services:

Figuring our hypothetical turkey weighs about 16 pounds, it’ll need 4 hours at 350 degrees in to reach perfection. In this case, our bird will require roughly 8 kWh to be fully prepared. Once the oven is up and running, leave it alone as long as you can. The more often the oven is open the more heat will be lost, and the more energy will be required to prepare your main dish. If you want to look, the oven light and the window is the best approach.

Arguably the next most popular Thanksgiving dish is the stuffing. The traditionalists might insist on preparing it inside the bird, but a growing number of recipes suggest baking it separately from the turkey. Your recipe might require a little stovetop preparation before going into the oven, so let’s be a little generous and say one big bowl of stuffing requires 2 kWh of power.

What holiday meal is complete without mashed potatoes? They require a lot of time and energy to boil, heat and mash just how grandma used to make. For sake of argument, let’s say they also require 1 kWh.

Green bean casserole’s popularity at a holiday meal fluctuates from one year to the next. But if you plan on making it, expect to use 1 kWh of electricity.

Next come the rolls. This is often a dish that’s left to the professionals, but homemade rolls typically require a half-hour and about 1 kWh.

Finally, there’s pie. A good pumpkin pie will end any holiday meal on a high note — and make an excellent treat for days to come. A homemade pies requires about 2 kWh.

Altogether, that equals 15 kWh of energy, which at Clark Public Utilities’ at-cost price of electricity of $0.0816 will cost about $1.22 to prepare.

If you’d like to use less power and save time while you’re preparing your holiday meal, look beyond your big oven.

Microwaves, while not great for cooking a turkey, are fast and efficient for heating vegetables or warming side dishes quickly.

Toaster ovens are the prefect size for a pie, baking rolls, warming, bread or just about anything else your holiday meal requires. Not only will it use less energy than your conventional oven, it’ll save you time by allowing you to bake two items at once.

Energy Adviser is produced by Clark Public Utilities and relies on the expertise of utility energy counselors and staff, who provide conservation and energy use information. To contact us call 360-992-3355, email ecod@clarkpud.com or visit www.clarkpublicutilities.com.

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