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Save Money and Help the Environment with a Solar Oven

written by: Mary White•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 9/3/2010

Are you looking for a way to reduce your family's carbon footprint while also saving money? You can accomplish both when you start using a solar oven to prepare some – or even all – of your meals!

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    When you're looking for ways to make your lifestyle more environmentally responsible, figuring out how to reduce household energy consumption is one of the first things you should consider. Much of the carbon footprint created by modern families comes from the equipment used to store and prepare food. After all, the appliances that most people use for cooking account for a significant portion of the energy used to run the home as well as for much of the family's environmental impact.

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    Reduce Household Environmental Impact with a Solar Oven

    sunshine - Aurimas Cekanavicius, sxc.hu If you want to reduce the environmental impact related to preparing meals for your family, consider getting – and using – a solar oven. While stoves and ovens rely on electricity or natural gas to operate and outdoor grills use propane, natural gas, or charcoal, solar ovens don't need anything to work other than the natural heat generated by the sun.

    Using a solar oven is much more cost effective and energy efficient than cooking with a stove, oven, or outdoor grill simply because no external energy source is required. Literally, there are absolutely no energy costs associated with operating a solar oven because energy from the sun is free. Additionally, no pollutants are emitted when using this cooking method. Further, when you cook with a solar oven, your home's cooling system doesn't have to counter the heat generated by in-home cooking. This means that less energy is needed to keep the structure at a comfortable temperature.

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    Getting Started with Solar Oven Cooking

    There are several types of solar ovens available, and it's even possible to make your own. If you're interested in building your own solar oven, see Cooking With the Sun: How to Build and Use Solar Cookers by Beth Halacy for ideas and instructions. If you'd rather order a professionally constructed solar cooking device, the Sun Oven, developed and marketed by Sun Ovens International and the Sport Solar Oven, available from the Solar Oven Society, are two of the most popular models.

    You can cook anything in a solar oven that you can prepare on a stove, oven or grill. You can adapt your own recipes to cook this way, or utilize recipes that have been created and tested specifically for solar oven cooking. A few cookbooks you may want to consider are: