Be an Energy Efficient Grill Master

Q: I’m grilling more these days with summer in full swing, and it got me thinking: Am I saving any money grilling out compared to cooking inside? And are there any new grilling-related products I should be aware of?

A: Grilling outside should indeed save some energy. The main way it does this is by keeping heat outside. Typically, when you cook with your oven or stove, heat builds up in your kitchen, and your cooling system has to run to maintain your home’s setpoint temperature. By grilling outdoors, you’re avoiding that accumulation of interior heat — as well as the lingering smoke, moisture and odors — and extra cooling system usage.

Source: Carolina Country

There are also tips to consider to make your grilling itself more efficient.

If you’re in the market for a new way to take advantage of outdoor cooking but don’t want to deal with charcoal, propane, natural gas or open flames, you have options. Although still relatively uncommon, electric grills are growing in popularity and continue to improve, starting to match on taste with other grills. Advantages include convenience, especially if you are tight on space; flexibility for use indoors if needed; precise temperature control; easier cleaning; and no running out of fuel.

On an even smaller scale, there are induction cooktops, which are another electrical technology. Induction cooking equipment uses an electromagnetic field to produce heat, and one of its major draws is safety. It doesn’t depend on direct heat but rather generates heat in the pot or pan placed on the cooking element. The cooktop itself does not heat up. These products come in personal-sized hot plate versions for whipping up side dishes as well as larger multi-burner stove layouts.

Solar ovens are also available and can make for a fun DIY activity for the whole family. NASA has instructions on how to make your own solar s’mores oven.

On the cooler side of things, you don’t have to have a full, tricked-out outdoor kitchen to experience the benefits and safety of refrigeration. There are increasing options for plug-in coolers that can add convenience to your next backyard event or tailgate (with the 12-volt adapter).

One more potential non-energy benefit of cooking outdoors? Keeping your home cleaner. Preparing food and dining outside may save your floors from mud, pool water, grass and the like from being tracked inside.

Happy National Grilling Month!

This article was originally published in Carolina Country magazine.