Cook Smart and Cut Energy Bills

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By Philip Mudartha
Bellevision Media Network

Doha, 11 July 2011: Having lived under Nehruvian Socialist economic system, we got used to the populist handouts, among them administered prices of energy for domestic use. 


After the collapse of Soviet Union, socialism is declining. Market forces are by large determining global trade. The transition is painful to say the least.


We in India are no longer insulated from global markets. Energy and commodity prices bite us hard, because we are not self-sufficient and depend on imports from nations with exportable surpluses. They hold the power to formulate production and marketing strategies and thus influence our national policies and household budgets.


The upward revision in administered prices of petroleum products is an example. LPG cooking gas cylinder price was set at Rs400. Pubic resentment and political opposition rhetoric was natural reactions, though they are illogical.


The logical response from a mature society should be a lot more than expressions of such knee jerk emotions. We should formulate strategies and action plans for sound conservation and efficient use of energy. We should explore alternate energy sources. Let us detail what we can do.


1. Selection of Cooking Devices



For those who gave up firewood as primary fuel, then dumped the Primus Kerosene Stoves and switched to Gas Burners due to convenience and necessity, the Gas Burner is cost effective even at Rs400. It is equivalent to buying electrical energy for Rs2.20 per unit (1 unit=1kWH).


I have written before that cost of generation of 1kWH at UPCL works out to Rs1.91 (at current market price of coal at Rs6000 per ton). The tariff at the kitchen socket would be Rs5.00 or more. Therefore, until LPG price goes beyond Rs900, we will have little incentive to consider switching to cooking by electric power. If we depend on popular and conventional electrical devices like Hot Plates, Ovens, Grills, and Coils. Their heat efficiency is 50-55% only.



But we can change our mind and switch to use of electrical power, if we afford to invest in modern devices like Microwave Oven and Induction cooker.


The heat efficiency of both types is 80% or more. The cooking times are less. Combined with menu and recipe planning and preparation, the energy used will be reduced to one fifth for similar sizes and types of meals.


The prices of Microwave Ovens and Induction Cooker have come down in recent years. Many Chinese manufactured models are sold in India for prices comparable to Indian made gas stoves and conventional hotplates.



Especially to warm leftovers, if you must, use of Microwave oven is the best choice.


There are disadvantages. We must learn the selection of cooking pots for each type. Our earthen pots, copper vessels, stainless steel and aluminum cookware are of no use in a microwave oven. Glass and Ceramic Cookware as well as microwave specified cookware is available even in small towns at reasonable prices.


To cook with Induction Cookers, we cannot use our customary cookware. We cannot use what we bought for microwave oven. We require cookwares that are magnetic. Besides our traditional Cast Iron Pots and Enameled Stainless Steels, specified cookware is available.


Needless to say, the cooking pots should have flat bottoms. The pan/pot size must be selected to suit the dimensions of the cooker.


The comparable costs of per hour of cooking on gas burner, hotplate, microwave oven and induction cooker, according to energy efficiency in cooking specialists and educationists in Australia are 35, 28, 12, 8 cents respectively at LPG cylinder price of A$23 and kWH rate of 14 cents. (1A$=Rs47)



Another cooking device that is gaining popularity is Crock-Pot, a brand of Slow Cooker, manufactured in most countries these days, but on patented US technology.  Crock-Pots with ratings of 150W to 220W should be sufficient for a small family. They are priced around $25-40 ($1=Rs45) and locally or Chinese made should be under Rs2000.





In this sequel, I have dealt only on energy efficiency and reducing energy bills by selecting the appropriate cooking devices instead of depending on our traditional gas stoves. Or even the power guzzling hot plates and convection ovens.


In the next sequel, the focus will be on who should be cooking and what should be cooking. That should be interesting, if I give up the dry essayist style and work  my black humor.



Comments on this Article
Philip Mudartha, Qatar Fri, September-21-2012, 2:58
The LPG subsidy will be capped at 6 cylinders of 14.2kg per consumer household per year. 1 cyl=194.1kWh. So, if you use more than 3kWH each day in cooking, you must pay higher. Do you want to spend more or become energy efficient? Will someone come forward with recipes and cooking procedures and methods in order to have delicious, nutritious meals made in our homes with lowest use of imported energy or highly polluting wood stoves?
Philip Mudartha, Qatar Tue, July-12-2011, 10:09
1. To save energy and reduce time spent in cooking, I switched to microwave and induction cookers in my kitchen. 2. There are other devices like solar cooker. I do not have personal experience with it. 3. We should either do our simple daily chores differently and get different results, or only grumble against changes overtaking our lives. Choice is ours. 4. Food, Nutrition, Hygiene and Lifestyle Management are standard courses offered in school, college and university levels in the USA. Part-time, full-time; vocational or self-improvement kind. As main syllabus for a degree or add-ons. Attention please: Indian educationists, and Minister Dr. VS Acharya. And citizens. With lifestyle diseases on the rise, bright career awaits in this discipline. 5. We ignore small stuff, but small stuff is as important as big grand schemes like finding alternate fuels, which are not what common man can do by himself.
Victor DSouza, Moodubelle / Doha Tue, July-12-2011, 6:02
To add to this informative article by Philip, using of pressure cooker wherever possible and minimize or avoid items like boiled rice (mota) would play some part in reducing the energy bills.
Roshan Periera, Dubai Tue, July-12-2011, 4:06
This is very important subject. Need to introduced in school syllabus, so that enough awareness can be created during the tender age of childen to take care of this econical as well as environmental issue.
Benedict Noronha, Udupi Mon, July-11-2011, 10:53
Idea Indeed is good but cooking using Indian LPG and or electricity means one would have to die in hunger because the political Babus increase for every thing including their allowances and say they check Inflation. The common man has not been abale to straiighten his back by these loads. I only hope that like Gold, the LPG cylinder and the Electricity Bill per unit does not touch 25000 figure by Deepaavali, using the Gadgets Mr Mudartha referred to in his enlightening article. It is all well in gulf countires where indian brains work.But such brains expect under the table is the tragedy.
Ashok D’Souza, Moodubelle, Dubai Mon, July-11-2011, 11:38

Nice article Philip ! Indeed there is vast scope for improvement in many things we do. Your artile is definitely making us rethink on the selection of cooking devices. Thank you looking forward to your next article...

Melwyn D Souza, Dubai Mon, July-11-2011, 6:44
Good one dear Philip. Things can be changed only through the awareness. The way we are wasting the fuel in backhome, no doubt that the gas price will cross RS.1000 per culinder very soon. The time has come to think about how to save fuel and contribute the economy and environment.
Victor Castelino, Boliye/Dubai Mon, July-11-2011, 6:07
"The logical response from a mature society should be a lot more than expressions of such knee jerk emotions." Are you joking? Logical responses and mature reactions do not generate votes for opposition parties whether they are in the centre or in the states. Only stirring of "sh**" creates vote banks.
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