free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 268. PRESSURE COOKERS

Saturday, March 25, 2006

268. PRESSURE COOKERS

I like the idea of looking at energy conservation as an extreme sport. In fact, it would be really cool if they had an energy conservation olympics as a way to promote fun new ways of living well on miniscule amounts of energy. I've previously talked about a couple of low-tech techniques: the space heater and the bicycle. Today let's look at another miracle machine: the pressure cooker.

The energy stats on pressure cookers are amazing. These stats are from Kuhn Rikon, a Swiss manufacturer (click to enlarge):

As you can see, the savings are phenomenal. Depending on how you cook, you can shave your energy needs for cooking by as much as 95%.

Wider adoption of these techniques could have a big impact. According to this report, 17% of U.S. energy consumption is attributable to the food system, and the following chart shows that about 32% of that is consumed by food storage and preparation in the home.

It's interesting to consider methods like this as an alternative to investing in LNG facilities or nuclear plants. If you're going to spend a few billion dollars anyway, why not loan the money to ordinary people to buy gas space heaters and pressure cookers, and promote the idea on TV? It's a simpler way to "produce" the same amount of energy.
-- by JD

11 Comments:

At Sunday, March 26, 2006 at 6:15:00 AM PST, Blogger nick said...

Aaahhh, now this is why I still come to this site every day or so. It's not for the bashing of Peak Oilers, but for the practical ideas for all that can save tons of money and energy with or without (in some cases) major revamps of our system.

However, I think that you border on the side of insanity when you make statements such as having energy conservation olympics. While an amazing (and geekily fun) idea, you would just have to be insane to believe that we could ever achieve that in this society. "OK kids, do you want to watch the Energy Conservation Olympics or American Idle/Simpsons/Pokeman/etc?" What do you think they'll pick? I mean, NBC can't get people to choose the REAL olympics.

 
At Sunday, March 26, 2006 at 8:00:00 AM PST, Blogger Chris Vernon said...

My parents used to use a pressure cooker but these days I don't know anyone who uses them... I wonder why?

How do microwaves fit in with is? Did the rise of the microwave usher in the demise of the pressure cooker? How do the two compare - I guess that microwaves are very efficient at transfer a megajoule of electrical energy into heat energy in a bowl of soup (just a shame that the electricity came from a gas power station 50 miles away!).

 
At Sunday, March 26, 2006 at 1:41:00 PM PST, Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

" My parents used to use a pressure cooker but these days I don't know anyone who uses them... I wonder why?"

Because they reduce everything to tastless grey mush.

My mother had one when I was a kid. It was thrown away with no regrets.

I have to believe that the amount of energy used by cooking is trivial. I can tell that by my off-season gas bill which is tiny compared to the winter bill, and which includes the hot water heater.

If we really want to save energy in the agricultural sector I would suggest campaigning against subsidies for using crops as fuel (especially maize for ethanol).

 
At Sunday, March 26, 2006 at 3:41:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

I have to believe that the amount of energy used by cooking is trivial. I can tell that by my off-season gas bill which is tiny compared to the winter bill, and which includes the hot water heater.

I agree. We only use gas for cooking, and it costs about $50 a year, generating about .001 kg of greenhouse gasses. Still, there's a lot of room for energy saving in the kitchen, like with fridges and ovens. Has anyone seen those light ovens, that use light to heat the food rather than a cooking element? Are they any good?

 
At Monday, March 27, 2006 at 6:07:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

I haven't tried a pressure cooker yet, so it was kind of irresponsible of me to post on the subject. But I've been wanting to experiment with one for years, and that's why I happened on those stats. I was shopping. I'm especially interested to see how they handle rice and beans -- two of my staples.

I'm sure you're right that cooking uses very little energy in the larger scheme of things, but I'm already car-less, so I have to master the finer points. Wouldn't want to come up short and get the bronze medal instead of the gold at the energy conservation X-games. ;-)

 
At Monday, March 27, 2006 at 11:55:00 AM PST, Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

It is OK, you can eat as much grey mush as you like.

 
At Tuesday, March 28, 2006 at 5:13:00 AM PST, Blogger Omnitir said...

Don’t forget that meat is very energy intensive. Pressure cookers are ideal for vegetarian dishes.

Pressure cookers aren’t bad. They do soften whatever you cook, but they are great for certain recipes and styles of cooking. I have fond memories of these delicious stews my grandmother used to make in an oil pressure cooker. Anything like soups or stews or any kind of bean or grain dish is great in them.

Though I imagine that today most westerners would be against anything that doesn’t involve large expensive chunks of grilled/fried/roasted meat. Though that may change.

As well as being energy efficient, pressure cookers are one of the healthiest cooking methods, they cook food up to 70% faster, they release less heat then traditional methods, and they are cleaner then many other methods.

If there is a large energy crunch in the future, then cooking vegetarian dishes in pressure cookers may be the smartest option. But why wait for the energy crunch?

 
At Tuesday, March 28, 2006 at 5:17:00 AM PST, Blogger Omnitir said...

...used to make in an oil pressure cooker.

Oops. That's supposed to be old pressure cooker, not an oil cooker.

Seems I've got oil on the brain.

 
At Tuesday, March 28, 2006 at 9:19:00 AM PST, Blogger Matthew Whiting said...

Thanks for the practical idea. I've added your site to my links list on my blog to moderate the peak oil stuff I have on it.

 
At Tuesday, June 20, 2006 at 2:56:00 AM PDT, Blogger Sean said...

Anyone know how a crock pot compares in energy use? Love mine and use it all the time.

 
At Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 12:51:00 AM PDT, Blogger Sally said...

"Because they reduce everything to tastless grey mush.

My mother had one when I was a kid. It was thrown away with no regrets."

They only do that if the cook using them overcooks the food.

 

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