Monitoring Energy Consumption in Home Cooking and Influencing Consumers to Save Energy
This research was carried out as part of a two-year study funded by DGXVII of the EC and the UKDETR in association with the TTS Institute (Finland). The general context of the research was that of reducing the energy consumption of the existing stock of domestic electric cooking appliances by influencing consumer behaviour at the points of use. The study sought to clarify the potential for influencing consumers to save energy when cooking, regardless of their food choices/diets or indeed the available cooking equipment. For this purpose, a cooking-specific information pack was developed to provide consumers with detailed and reliable information about cooking appliances, the energy consumption of cooking practices as well as energy-saving tips. A literature search was undertaken to evaluate the previously published information/advice regarding households energy-wise: energy efficiency in general and cooking appliances in particular. Most information campaigns (and the associated material), addressing household energy use, have focused primarily on space heating. Although some advice on cooking practices has been made available, the published energy use information usually lacked specific examples and some inaccuracies and ambiguities were evident. This suggested that the underlying quantitative consumption data were weak or non-existent. The published literature was also reviewed to assess food consumption habits in Great Britain. In general, the consumption of food in the home has declined over the 20 years to 1995. There are significant seasonal variations in the amount of food consumed within the home. Information about the types of meal prepared at home is not well documented. There is some evidence from a small number of studies (some regional and some national) of a conventional behaviour pattern with respect to food preparation and meal preferences. Food preparation tasks tend to be done predominantly by women, and `traditional' meals (e.g. a roast dinner) are usually preferred when cooking for guests. One recent study concluded that the sociology of food preparation remains unexplored. Two questionnaire surveys were therefore undertaken: (i) a survey of food choices and meal preparation practices, and (ii) a one-week diary of home cooking whereby the participants recorded details of the food prepared/eaten in their homes. As a result, an understanding of the frequency of cooking appliance use and the frequency of meal preparation was obtained, from which a classification of meals based on cooking duration was defined.