Nothing says summer like grilling. Warm evenings with the mouth-watering aroma of a juicy steak (paired with grilled potatoes and summer squash) wafting across the lawn — it’s hard to beat.
But the yummy food coming off the grill isn’t the only positive of grilling. You’ll also be saving energy. Cooking inside during the hot summer months puts two of the biggest energy-consuming appliances — your oven and air conditioner — to work.
The energy-saving advantage of grilling is especially relevant this year as higher natural gas costs are increasing energy costs for homeowners. The cost of natural gas impacts electric customers because natural gas is used to generate electricity.
For that reason, energy conservation — like using your grill rather than your oven — will be even more impactful this summer. But you don’t have to stop there.
These energy conserving steps will also help
- Run your big appliances strategically. Minimize indoor heat by running appliances, like your dishwasher or oven, at night. Avoid using any heat-generating appliances between 2 - 8 p.m.
- Unplug small appliances when not in use. This prevents phantom energy usage. Make your ceiling fans do the work. Set ceiling fans to spin counterclockwise in the summer, pulling hot air up and letting the cooler air sink. The fans create air flow, which, in combination with your air conditioning, help keep rooms cool. Just remember to turn off ceiling fans off when no one is in the room.
- Program your thermostat. Switch to a programmable thermostat to help manage energy use based on your schedule, and consider adjusting your temperature threshold up five degrees. For every degree of adjustment, your energy usage can decrease by 6-8%.
- Make sure your AC is working efficiently. Consider signing up for an AC inspection to set your AC up for success. An inspection will verify that your appliance is working as efficiently as possible, which will translate to lower energy costs. Learn more about inspections and how to sign up for a Service Guard plan.
- Choose dishes that don’t require cooking. Take this cowboy caviar from our employee cookbook for example. No cooking means no energy consumption.
Your customer portal helps give a real-time look at what in your home is using the most energy and when, helping you adjust to save.
Now that we’ve established that grilling is awesome, it’s important to remember the fire risks that can come with it. Anytime you’re working with fire, especially on hot, dry days, you need to stay alert.
Grill safety tips
- Only grill outside and keep the grill at least three feet from siding and deck rails.
- Wear appropriate clothes when grilling. Avoid long sleeves or pieces of materials that dangle and can catch fire easily.
- Keep a spray bottle and a fire extinguisher handy.
- Always open your gas grill before lighting it.
- Never step away from your grill. Keep a close eye on it whenever it’s lit.
- Clean your grill with a brush after each use to remove grease.
- If you’re using a charcoal grill, put the coals into a metal can once they have cooled.
And while you’re thinking of grilling safety, let’s not forget skin safety. Having five or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma. So, break out the sunscreen before you head out to the grill and make sure you’re covered.
What are you waiting for? Get that grill out, throw on a marinated chicken breast and some corn on the cob and settle into your nearby patio chair. It will make for a perfect summer evening and lower energy bills. It’s a win-win.
- 6 tomatoes, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
- 1 large avocado, peeled pitted and diced
- 15-ounce can corn, drained
- 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed well and drained
- 2/4 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 cup light Italian dressing
- 4 medium garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or add to taste
- Combine tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, jalapenos, avocado, corn, beans.
- Add lime juice, Italian dressing, garlic and salt.
- Mix it all together and serve with your choice of tortilla chips.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can bake your own tortilla chips! Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with foil. Using a pizza slicer, cut tortillas into 8 triangles by cutting in quarters then eighths; place in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil and spices over tortilla triangles and mix well so all tortillas are evenly coated in oil and spices. Don’t be afraid to use your hands! Divide tortillas evenly between both baking sheets and spread out so that they are in an even layer. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until browned. (Varies based on oven.) Store in air tight container for up to 4 days.
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