Earlier this year I reviewed The Climate Change Cookbook, an attempt to bring climate awareness into people’s kitchens that sadly failed to mention cooking techniques. It’s also absent from many other cook books that otherwise offer more sustainable diets. My favourite vegan collection for example, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Much More Veg, contains dozens of variations on roasted vegetables. All of them need the oven, which is the most energy intensive way to prepare a meal.
So I was interested to see a big public campaign around sustainable cooking launching today. It’s a joint project between the supermarket Iceland and the energy provider Utilita, aimed at helping customers with the cost of living crisis. They suggest that they can deliver households a saving of £600 a year by adopting more energy efficient modes of cooking, such as slow cookers, air fryers and microwaves.
According to their research, 52% of people don’t know which appliances cost more to run. A little information could go a long way here, at a time when little everyday energy choices really add up. For example, preparation instructions on a packet might give options for cooking in the oven, on the hob or in the microwave. 42% of people apparently switch the oven on by default, though using the microwave would be a tenth of the cost. A simple switch would save 90% of the energy use.
You don’t learn this stuff in school, so Iceland are adding a bit of information to the packaging of their own-brand foods. They will highlight the most energy efficient way to prepare them, and are launching a public awareness campaign called Shop Smart, Cook Savvy. They will also be selling discounted energy-efficient appliances in-store, including air-fryers – something I have never used myself, but may be tempted to try. This is a first, as far as I’m aware.
While the campaign is based around the cost of living, saving energy will also save carbon. New practices during an energy price spike may continue afterwards, as people learn new techniques and change their habits. That has certainly been true of previous energy crises – Britain’s carbon emissions peaked in 1973, after all.