Christmas is traditionally a time of excess. Lots of food, lots of presents, and plenty of good cheer. Making sure the Christmas dinner preparation is running smoothly means making every second count in the kitchen, especially as it can be an expensive time too. The heating is on, every gas hob is running, and the oven is roasting meats, veg and chestnuts.
According to new research from British Gas Smart Meters*, British households are estimating how much food they need to feed their guests (43 per cent) and more than one in ten (15 per cent) go as far as guessing the oven temperature, risking ruined festive feasts and wasted energy. Every year, British households overcook the turkey by an average of 55.5 minutes. And, with 10 million turkeys sold in the UK at Christmas** that’s a whopping 9.25 million hours of unnecessary oven time each year. Just think of the money you could save if you kept an eye on the oven.
Sarah Scrivener, Smart Energy Expert at British Gas, adds: “With many of us struggling with easily avoidable cooking catastrophes it’s not surprising that 41 per cent of people surveyed believe that having smart meters would make it easier for them to manage their energy use at Christmas. We want to help ease the stress – and reduce the time you need to spend in the kitchen.
“If, like most, you’re concerned about the amount you’re spending on energy over the festive period, a smart meter monitor connected to your smart meters is a great way to help you keep track of your energy use in pounds and pence, and put an end to estimated bills.”
There are plenty of hacks to keep your costs low over Christmas, and smart meters are at the forefront of helping you keep an eye on bills. Smart meters are the next generation of gas and electricity meters, and they’ll automatically send meter readings to your energy supplier, meaning you only pay for what you use. They come with a free smart energy monitor that show, in near real-time, how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence.
With smart meters, you can keep an eye on your spending, but how do you limit your energy usage in the first place?
Rosie Birkett, a cook, food stylist, and writer, explains that are plenty of things you can do to regulate your spending, even when you do need to have most appliances on all the time.
Rosie Birkett’s handy hacks for a fabulous festive feast with British Gas Smart Meters
Roast potatoes: Microwave your potatoes instead of boiling to soften before roasting – this will reduce the time they need in the oven and therefore the amount of energy used. It’s also quicker than boiling on the hob and uses less energy, as well as taking up less hob space.
Turkey: Buy a turkey that was grown to full maturity and takes less time to roast than a normal bird. Less oven time means less energy usage too, and more time to focus on the trimmings. Try to avoid opening the oven during cooking as this will let the heat escape, meaning the turkey will take longer to cook and use more energy.
Sprouts: Boil sprouts in a pan and make sure you keep the lid on tightly to trap the heat in, which will mean you can boil on a lower temperature. Turn the heat off five minutes before the sprouts are done (keeping the lid on) so the residual heat of the water will keep cooking them. Once cooked, simply drain and refresh the sprouts in ice water.
Gravy: Re-use your turkey roasting pan for the gravy – not only will this have all of the flavour of your roasted meat, but the pan will be piping hot from the oven and so will heat your gravy up faster. This means you won’t need to have it on the hob for as long and will save energy.
Christmas pudding: It may sound unconventional, but you can cook a delicious Christmas pudding in your microwave. It’s much faster than steaming (which can take up to ten hours) and uses just two per cent of the energy. Drench your pudding in brandy and flame for a centrepiece dessert.
Rosie says: “Christmas dinner can come with a lot of pressure and worry, which can lead to disaster in the kitchen – not to mention a huge amount of wasted time and energy. But there are simple solutions to avoid most of the common cooking fails. We’ve looked at what the nation finds the hardest to master to offer a helping hand to get it right this year.”
To see if you’re eligible for smart meters, and for more information on installation, click here.
*British Gas Christmas Survey, 22 November 2017
**according to The British Turkey Information Service (BTIS), 2013