Sunday, December 4, 2022
Dec. 4, 2022

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Energy Adviser: Elbow grease not the only power


Few family 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 a fleet of cooking gadgets.

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 techniques and traditions to cooking a holiday meal — some dishes absolutely must be homemade, others, well, it might be all right if one pie is from the store — but, for sake of argument, let’s imagine doing all the preparation at home.

Imagine 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 imaginary turkey weighs about 16 pounds, it’ll need four hours at 350 degrees to reach perfection. In this case our bird will require roughly 8 kWh to be fully prepared. Once the oven is up to temperature, open the door as little as possible. The more often you do, the more heat will be lost and the more time and energy will be required to prepare your main dish. If you want to look, the oven light and the window are 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 doesn’t enjoy the holiday limelight it once did, but we all have someone at the table who loves the classics. If you’re making it or something similar, expect to use 1 kWh of electricity.

Next come the rolls. If you’re making them from scratch, expect to bake them for a half-hour with about 1 kWh of electricity.

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 pie 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 efficient for heating vegetables or warming side dishes quickly.

Toaster ovens are the perfect 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 or visit