Sat | Aug 17, 2019

Engineers’ Angle | Have a merry energy-saving Christmas - Part 2

Published:Sunday | December 16, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Vendors and shoppers in the heart of downtown Kingston during Christmas last year.

The Christmas holiday is one week closer than last Sunday, when the first part of this article was published.

In last week's article, we looked at five simple and effective ways you can continue to conserve energy throughout the holiday season without jeopardising the festive spirit.

Today, we will conclude with a few additional tips. To reiterate, since these are general suggestions, you will need to carefully consider how each suggestion may suit your situation, whether in your household or workplace.


6. Plan your trips


Regardless of the time of year, it is important to plan your trips. However, during the holiday season, the roads just seem to be much busier. Whether you drive or take a taxi, you are likely to spend a significant amount of time waiting in traffic. This results in unnecessary frustration and a waste of your time, energy (gasolene) and - consequently - money. Decide on what you need and where it is located. By planning, you can eliminate multiple trips to the same location on the same route and avoid last-minute shopping needs. Shop early this Christmas. make sure you have everything you need, such as food, gifts, party items, etc. long before the rush sets in. In this way, you can relax and avoid the rush a few days before Christmas.


7. Defrosting your food


Defrosting meat in microwaves has become quite popular in recent years. However, it is an energy-intensive process and therefore a practice that is highly discouraged, regardless of the season. Ideally, meat should be defrosted naturally overnight or placed in the refrigerator's cooler compartment.


8. Freezing leftover food


So, you prepared more food than you could consume for dinner, and you intend to preserve your leftovers for another day by storing them in the refrigerator. You should allow your food to cool before putting it in the refrigerator. Putting warm foods in the refrigerator will cause your refrigerator to use more electricity to remove the extra heat.

While this might not seem significant for a small plate of rice, the effect of stuffing the refrigerator with warm food on a continuous basis is likely to be reflected in your energy bill.


9. Cook efficiently


There are many considerations here. Cooking techniques vary to achieve desired texture, taste, flavour, and visual appeal. But whenever you can, you should try to exercise efficient cooking practices without compromising your desired results in the kitchen. So, here are few tips:

Whether you use an electric or gas-fired stove, it is important to select a pot of the correct size. For example, when the pot is too small, heat from the uncovered burner or heating ring section is wasted. A large pot has a greater surface area for heat loss, and when boiling, you have to be careful to not fill it with too much water. Additionally, by keeping the lid on the pot when cooking, you will reduce heat loss, reduce cooking time, and consequently reduce the amount of energy needed.

When using the oven, try to bake as many dishes as possible. By doing this, you can reduce the amount of time that the oven is on. This will require prudent planning and much preparatory work on the part of the Christmas-dinner chef. Also, try to keep that oven door closed for as long as possible. From an energy perspective, every time the door opens, you are losing valuable heat.

And, finally, as was said last week, don't forget to switch off appliances when you're not using them.

If you keep these energy-savings tips in mind, you can be free from anxiety while engaged in your holiday celebrations. Feel free to continue to use these tips throughout the coming year. Also, look for other ways you can continue to save energy, and watch your electricity bill go down. Have a merry energy-saving Christmas and a happy New Year.

- Kirkland Rowe is a senior lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Technology, Jamaica, and a certified energy manager. Send questions and comments to or You may also leave your comments for the JIE's Technical Committee at our Facebook page: Jamaica Institution of Engineers - JIE.