Fourth of July weekend is coming up, which for many of us means hours in the kitchen and behind the grill preparing food for family and friends to eat at the annual holiday barbecue. Hosting these events can be a lot of fun (if also a lot tiring), but they can also burn a huge hole in your monthly energy consumption. Here are some tips for how to minimize energy use while you’re entertaining this weekend.
- It’s shaping up to be a beautiful day on Monday. If temperatures cooperate, turn off the A/C and send everyone outside. Cool breezes, sun-blocking umbrellas set up over picnic tables, and fun water games like slip’N slides or water gun wars will be more than enough to keep everyone comfortable. No sense having everyone crowd the kitchen (canceling out the effect of the A/C with the extra body heat) when it’s beautiful outside!
- If you do bring the festivities indoors, be smart about it. Instead of cranking the A/C, open windows and set up fans to get a cool cross breeze blowing. Just make sure to turn them off when you head outside to watch the fireworks—fans only help cool the room when there are people there to feel the breeze!
- Prepare food several hours (or days) in advance so that the kitchen has time to cool back down from the heat of the oven. If possible, plan to cook food on the grill rather than on the stovetop or the oven. A grill doesn’t use any energy, and you can cook almost anything on it! Don’t limit yourself to burgers or hot dogs. Your guests will be impressed by the “gourmet touch” of grilling a quesadilla or pizza, even if it’s actually the same recipe you would have made inside.
- Choose energy efficient lighting options to set the scene in your backyard. Check out our blog post on Energy Efficient Lighting Tips for some decorative and practical ideas to get you started. Wait to turn on the outdoor lighting setup until you truly need it. The lights may add atmosphere, but it wastes energy to run them when it’s not even dark out.
- Unless you’re having a very large gathering, use your own dishware rather than paper plates or plastic cups in order to cut down on trash and waste. Remember to wash everything in the dishwasher. It actually saves more energy and uses less water than hand washing–and you’re free to put your feet up and congratulate yourself for hosting a successful and energy-efficient party.