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Cooking on Top of Stove Saves Money

Power Lines: California's energy crisis is hitting home. Electric bills are rising, and people are looking for ways to cut consumption and costs. This is the ninth in a series of energy-saving tips. Previous stories can be accessed at http://www.latimes.com/powerlines.

March 10, 2001|LYNN O'DELL

Wait! Don't put that pork roast in the electric oven. Pop it in a pressure cooker and use your gas stove top instead. You'll save 84 cents in energy costs. Cook a roast weekly and you've saved $43.68 a year.

Not a meat eater? Not a problem. Today's new generation of pressure-cooker aficionados are turning out dishes such as risotto with fresh asparagus (10 minutes) and poached pears in red wine (20 minutes).

When it comes to energy-efficient cooking, most of us think of the microwave, which uses half the energy of conventional cooking, according to the California Energy Commission (http://www.consumerenergycenter.org). But pressure cooking can save up to 70% in energy costs, says Rudy Keller, president of Kuhn Rikon USA (http://www.kuhnrikon.com). The Swiss company pioneered the spring-loaded valve that tamed the hissing, jiggling version you remember.

Pressure cooking saves time too. That 1 1/2-pound pork roast would take 90 minutes in the oven versus 30 minutes in a pressure cooker on a stove top. Veggies cook even faster: fresh artichokes in eight to 12 minutes, corn on the cob in two to three minutes. High-end pressure cookers range from $99 to $160. Other brands are available at stores and online and start at about $30.

You can also save on energy costs by dragging that old Crock-Pot out of the cupboard. Energy experts say the slow cookers use about one-third the energy of electric ovens because the heating element draws so little power and the ceramic crock holds in so much of the heat.

* Send your questions or suggestions regarding energy use to Home Design, Los Angeles Times, Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626; or send e-mail to http://ocsocalliv@latimes.com. Please include your name and phone number.

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