The kitchen is the heart of your home. This is where family gathers to eat, talk and laugh together, but because this is where you spend the most time, you could end up wasting a lot of energy if you’re not careful. To cut back on energy in your kitchen and lower your monthly utility bills, follow these tips:

Change your cooking habits.

Using the oven or stove to cook dinner can heat up your kitchen quickly, causing your air conditioner to kick into overdrive to keep you comfortable. Instead of relying on the oven or stove, think of ways you can “cook cool” to save energy. Try making fresh salads or cold sandwiches a few times a week. Or, fire up the outdoor grill, which won’t cause your kitchen to get any hotter. Whatever you do, resist the urge to turn on your oven or stove every night of the week.

Use glass or ceramic pans.

When you do have to use the oven, make sure you only use glass or ceramic pans, which are more energy efficient than other options. Food can cook just as quickly in these pans, but you won’t have to turn the temperature on the oven up as high, so you can cut back on the energy you use.

Switch to low flow faucets.

Change the faucets in your kitchen to low flow models to cut down your water usage by about 60%. This may seem like an investment, but low flow models are actually affordable, so you won’t have to break the bank to start saving water.

Run full loads.

Make sure you are only running your dishwasher when you have a full load of dirty dishes. Most dishwashers will use the same amount of water and electricity regardless of how many dishes you have inside, so when you run it on a half-empty load, you will be wasting energy.

Clean the oven door.

Instead of opening the oven door to take a peek at what’s cooking inside, clean the door so you can look through the glass to check on your food. Every time you open the oven door, heat escapes, so your oven will have to use more energy to bring your food back to the desired temperature. So, keep the oven door closed and rely on what you can see through the window instead of taking a look for yourself.

Buy energy efficient appliances.

If you have it in your budget, consider buying energy efficient appliances, such as a new refrigerator or dishwasher. Look for models marked with the Energy Star logo, which signals that the appliance uses less water and electricity than other standard models. Making the switch to energy efficient appliances requires a bit of a financial investment, but be patient, and the appliances will pay for themselves over time due to the amount of money they’ll save you on your utility bills every month.

Follow these tips and you can entertain family and friends in your kitchen without worrying about the negative impact you’re having on the environment!