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Smart Home

​How your old pots and pans may be letting you down

An upgrade to your pots and pans can save energy and cook food more quickly.

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Your pan may need an upgrade.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Your old pots and pans may get the job done, but are they as efficient as they could be? Here are reasons to consider a trip to the kitchen supply store.

The warped and the wasted

So, your old pots and pans have seen better days. Who cares if they have dents and dings, right? Well if the dent is on the bottom, you may have a problem.

Warped pots can use much more energy than pots that are in good condition. This means your food cooks more slowly. That not only wastes time, it can affect the final outcome of your food. For example, cooking meats for longer periods of time can make them dry.

Pans with dents on the bottom can also cook your foods unevenly. This is because the part that is in contact with the heating element will become hotter that the concave area of the dent.

The bottom of your pot or pan should lay flat to have good contact with the heating element. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found that boiling water in a warped-bottom pan can use 50% more energy than a flat-bottom pan.

That's so metal

Upgrading the type of pan you use can make a difference, too. Opt for pans with copper bottoms, since they heat up more quickly, in turn cooking your food more quickly.

Also, use glass or ceramic in the oven whenever you can. Glass and ceramic pans will cook your food just as well as metal, but at a lower cooking temperature. You can lower the recipe's temperature about 25 degrees Fahrenheit and still get great results. This is because glass and ceramic get much hotter than metal pans. That can save money on your electric bill and keep your house just a little cooler in the summer when you're baking. (Caution: When you're broiling, use a metal pan, though, since high heats can cause glass to shatter.)

Once you have your pan situation sorted out, use this cooking tip to save even more energy.