12 Ways to Conserve Cooking Fuel
Turn these tips into habits to save resources and money.
In everyday use, there are two basic principles for conserving propane: Don’t heat larger quantities than you need to, and don’t heat things longer than they need to be heated. If you know you’re running low on fuel, you can then embrace a third principle: Choose the most energy-efficient menu and cooking method.
Here are my top 12 ways to conserve cooking fuel. While propane seems to be the most common cooking fuel on cruising boats, these tips work equally well for kerosene, alcohol, white gas, and even electricity.
1. Cover pans: Covering pans keeps the heat in the pan, cooking the food. I’ve seen estimates that covered pans consume less than half the energy of uncovered ones, so this is a huge savings both in the amount of propane used and the heat released in the cabin on a hot day. If a pan doesn’t have a lid, use a piece of aluminum foil or a heat-proof plate, such as those made by Corelle.
2. Measure water: Not heating more water than you need also saves propane. If I’m making a recipe that calls for 1 cup of boiling water, I measure 1 cup into the teakettle and boil only that amount.
3. Use a whistling teakettle: It’s easy to put a pan of water on to boil and then get sidetracked while the water merrily boils away. A whistling teakettle lets you know when the water is ready so you can turn the burner off right away.
4. Use a timer: A timer reminds you to turn the heat down or take things off the fire. Just as with the teakettle, it’s easy to forget something and let it cook longer than intended. For example, if something needs to cook 10 minutes and you let it go 11 minutes, you’ve wasted 10 percent more fuel. I wear a wristwatch with a timer, but I know many cruising sailors don’t like to wear a watch. If that’s you, a timer with a very loud buzzer that can be heard everywhere on the boat—even on deck—is a good option.