It’s that time of year. Soon homes will be filled with the smells of oven-roasted turkey, candied yams, mashed potatoes and gravy, and stuffing from that special passed-down family recipe. And who could forget the pies!

Traditionally, Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday cooking season when kitchen appliances receive a lot of extra use when you’re preparing meals to be shared with loved ones and family members.

But no matter how much love and attention go into the special holiday favorites, Thanksgiving and the holidays are also a peak time for gobbling up energy, especially when the oven and kitchen appliances are working non-stop.

“Today’s new kitchen appliances use nearly 50 percent less energy than those from 10 years ago,” said Natalie Smith, Gulf Power spokesperson. “But when the holidays roll around, energy usage can rise when they get an extra workout and it can add up quickly. However, you may not have to use as much energy as you think by following a few simple tips.”

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep holiday energy costs to a minimum. Here are some no-cost ways to save money and energy in the kitchen and be thankful for the savings on your November energy bills:

Cooking

· Oven preheating is usually not required and wastes energy. When preheating is required, avoid preheating longer than necessary. Preheating takes about eight minutes.

· Turn off the oven a few minutes before cooking is finished. Retained heat will complete the job.

· Use the microwave whenever possible, it’s the most efficient way to cook or reheat food.

· Don’t use your range or oven to heat the kitchen. It’s inefficient and can be a safety hazard.

· Choose pots and pans that have wide flat bottoms that just cover the burner. They will absorb all the heat and cook food more evenly. Aluminum pans with flat bottoms, straight sides, and tight fitting lids are best for energy savings.

Dishwasher

* Proper loading is important. Operate only when it is filled to capacity.

* If manufacturer’s instructions permit, open the door of your dishwasher after the last rinse cycle to allow moisture to escape and the dishes to dry as they cool. Some units have a “power-saver switch” that automatically eliminates the drying cycle.

Refrigerator

* Keep the refrigerator between 37º and 40º and the freezer setting at 0º.

* Keep condenser coils clean. Vacuum the coils at least twice a year.

* Make sure the door gasket seals tightly.

* Let hot foods cool before placing them in the refrigerator.

* Position the refrigerator away from heat sources. If the unit has back coils, position it at least 4" from the wall.

* Avoid keeping the refrigerator door open.

* Think about getting rid of your extra refrigerator or freezer as they generally are inefficient and can cost two to three times more to operate per month.

Thermostat

· If you’re having a large group of people over, make sure to adjust the thermostat before guests arrive.

· If it’s cold outside, lower the thermostat a degree or two. The body heat from guest as well as the heat from all that cooking, will raise your home’s temperature without having to run the furnace.