Why We Bought a Solar Oven

(Updated: July 14, 2021)

We’re always looking for ways to lessen our negative impact on our environment. That’s where a solar oven comes in. A great way to reduce the impact is to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. The use of fossil fuels and your carbon footprint intricately links to embodied energy. Embodied energy is the amount of energy used to manufacture, package, and deliver a product. It affects everything from an apple you buy at the grocery store, to hand tools you had shipped, to the clothes you’re wearing now. Your carbon footprint includes: the types of food you buy (differing if it is from a local source and/or packaged), the amount of time you spend traveling in a gasoline-powered vehicle (differing by type of vehicle), your type of living arrangements, the amount of electricity you use (differing by if it is renewable or not), etc. 

Carbon Footprints

Check out where you’re at with your carbon footprint. It isn’t perfect, but they give you a good idea of where you stand. We’re not perfect either. The reason I share these results with you is to point out that it is a process. Becoming a conscious consumer requires effort to change. There are things most people cannot easily change, like the distance we travel in a car, or the size of our dwelling. But there are things some of us can easily change, like growing/raising even just one of our usual food items, and using our electricity intelligently. 

Screen shot of carbon footprint calculator results for HHH in July of 2020 stating a 3.8 global hectares ecological footprint, a 7.5 CO2 emissions in tonnes per year carbon footprint, and a 67% total ecological footprint.
These are our previous results from the carbon footprint calculator when we were living on our first homestead in July of 2020. Not the best, even with how conscious we were already living. But I feel we have definitely made some improvements. A lot has changed with our multiple living situations since then and we’ve adjusted well in each to better our eco-conscious lifestyle.

Less Electricity Use

At our first home, we were already employing techniques to lower our energy use while cooling the house. And everywhere we’ve lived, we’ve used passive daylighting. That means we only use the light filtering through the windows instead of using electrical lights during the day. We mostly eat at home due to allergies and severely limited restaurants that actually serve organic locally grown food. But most of our cooking was limited to electricity use with the exception of special occasion campfire meals. That is, until we bought our solar oven.

Picture of a pot of rice cooking in a solar oven. The oven consists of an insolated container with a visible circular temperature gauge and a cooking rack under a transparent latched-shut top door surrounded by folding out reflector panels that are channeling the sunlight into the oven.
Cooking organic brown rice in the solar oven we purchased from Sun Oven. (Brand not affiliated with HHH.)

A Simple Choice

We live in a hot, sunny environment where the a/c runs around the clock for most of the year. Cooking raises the inside temperature. That makes the a/c need to work harder, especially if your furnace is only five feet from the stove. I knew a solar oven would be useful in keeping the house cooler. A solar oven is typically an insulated box lined with reflective material in which food is placed to cook. The box faces towards the sun. It’s possible to make one out of simple materials that won’t last long but is good to experiment with. I want to note that solar cooking is not limited to a solar oven. There are several types of solar cookers. If you’re nerdy like me and want to learn a bit more you can read about it here

Since I would be using it almost daily for 9 months of the year, I needed something durable. So, I opted for purchasing one. I could have built one. But, I preferred the materials, performance, portability, and the mission of the Sun Oven company (brand not affiliated with HHH). 

Easy Clean Cooking with our Solar Oven

I couldn’t be happier with ours! Solar cooking took a little adjusting to because our solar oven uses ⅓ less water and does not have temperature control at the turn of a knob. You also have to figure out the timeline for re-orienting the solar oven to control the temperatures and speed at which you want to cook things. But it takes far less attention because you only need to re-orient the oven every 30 minutes to cook quickly. Or, you can just set it towards the mid-day sun and leave it be. It’s hard to burn food in and you can cook just about anything! So far we’ve made pizza, rice, beans, chili, picadillo, burger patties, many kinds of roasts, and even dehydrated extra onions to make onion powder.

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