Kitchen Gadget Guide When it comes to saving power in the kitchen, we often think of only the big guys: the refrigerator, dishwasher, and oven. But what about smaller kitchen gadgets? You can save energy and money by using these devices wisely, too. Microwave A microwave uses high-frequency radio waves to warm food. Because those waves focus directly on the food, not the container or surrounding air, a microwave is often more efficient than the oven or stovetop. If you use it to heat small portions of food, you can reduce cooking energy by as much as 80 percent, according to ENERGY STAR®. To make sure your microwave runs efficiently, regularly clean the inside—grime absorbs heat and increases cook time. According to the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, microwaves should last at least 10 years. If yours is still working after that time, it’s fine to keep using it. Toaster Oven For baking and broiling, a toaster oven is often the way to go. Because it’s smaller than a conventional oven, it preheats faster and uses a third to half as much power, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. When shopping for a new toaster oven, look for one with a convection-heating feature. Although it uses a bit more power, the fan heats food faster, saving energy. Slow cooker A slow cooker may take longer to cook your dinner than an oven, but it still saves you cash. That’s because today’s models use a mere 100 watts of electricity—meaning you can leave it running for eight hours and only pay about 20 cents. Look for a slow cooker with a glass lid, so you can see inside without letting out heat. Pressure Cooker A pressure cooker can reduce cooking time by up to 70 percent by allowing pressure and heat to build inside the pot. You can use a pressure cooker to cook anything from rice to chicken breasts. And because food is cooked in less time and in less water, more nutrients remain in the food, and you save energy and water. Use a pressure cooker with a cover-locking system and forgo using one that’s more than 30 years old. (Older pressure cookers have a reputation for exploding.) Try This Today! Clean your self-cleaning oven immediately after making dinner. The oven will already be heated, and you’ll use less energy warming it up to operating temperature.