In the summer, no one really wants to get into the kitchen and cook. Often, grilling out is also frowned on simply because of the heat. With air conditioning systems pumping air into the home, it is sometimes important to save energy in other ways to make up the difference. No cook meals that use NO energy are a great way to feed the family during these hot and sticky months. Here are some ideas for hot weather meals. Most of them are also very healthy, but you don't have to let your family know! Turkey, corn, and tomato wraps are a delicious, cool, and energy-free meal that is sure to fill the tummies. Simply take fresh corn, tomatoes, lettuce, and turkey and wrap in fajitas. The ingredients are truly up to you. Add any type of cheese, meat, peppers, carrots, dressings and more. You may also like one of many chicken salad recipes. Taking left-over chicken and shredding it with chopped grapes, apples, walnuts, celery and your choice of dressing can be delicious with whole wheat bread or crackers. You may also like to add white beans, chick peas or green peas for added protein. Using salmon, tuna or other meats instead of chicken will add more variety. Chilled soups are also a delicious choice for summer meals. They can help beat the heat and conserve energy. Watermelon and chunky tomato gazpacho are both good choices. You can experiment by adding various fruit, veggies, dressings, wines and spices to create the perfect chilled soup for your family. Just as with the chicken salad, several types of beans can be added to bring more protein into the soup. Make sure to try out some of these healthy meal choices this summer!
While your current refrigerator probably does a fine job of keeping your foods cool and safe to eat, it might be using up more energy than necessary, which reflects onto your electric bill and adds to your carbon footprint. In fact, a fridge made 20 years ago costs you more than $100 to run each year, while a model that was made recently and has met efficiency standards costs around $45 each year to run, and avoids nearly 940 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, there are other advantages to purchasing an energy efficient fridge such as the noise level. Because it has more insulation to save energy and money, an efficient fridge runs quieter than an older model. Most energy efficient models come in different styles to suit your needs, such as the French door, side-by-side door, bottom-mount freezer, or a top mount freezer. Several of these models also use improved temperature controls to keep your food fresher, longer —also saving you money. If you decide to purchase a new fridge, you can recycle your old one. If you are replacing a fridge from the 1890s, you’ll save more than $100 each year on your electric bill. Furthermore, if you’re replacing a fridge from the 1970s, you will save almost $200 each year. Some other energy saving tips no matter what year your fridge was made include, making sure all of the door seals are tight, leaving space between the wall or cabinets and the refrigerator to allow air to circulate around the condenser coils, keeping the coils clean and free of dust, place your fridge far from any heat sources (oven, dishwasher, direct sunlight), shorten the amount of time the fridge door is open, and keep your fridge temperature between 32-38 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer temperature at zero degrees.