How Much Energy Does It Take To Cook A Turkey?

man pulling turkey from oven
November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving in Sacramento brings us two American traditions: Cooking a 10–15 pound plucked bird for a feast, and arguing over the best way to do so. The tastiest method for some may be the most “foul” for others (yes, pun intended), but no matter the method, it is guaranteed to take some time, and more importantly it will take electricity.

There are, of course, so many variables when it comes to determining just how much electricity it takes to fully cook a Thanksgiving Day bird. But a study of the impact that Thanksgiving has on energy usage here in California can be useful information to use when you are trying to avoid all the awkward political conversations that are bound to happen when the whole family get together… (Do you have “that uncle” too?)

There’s More Than One Way To Cook a Bird

You can roast it, you can smoke it, you can fry it, you can remove the bones, you can even grill it. But regardless which tried and true method you trust each year, it’s going to take some energy to get that bird past the USDA recommended 160º F.

The most common (and cheapest) method used for Thanksgiving turkey in American homes is roasting it in an electric oven. If you have an average sized 15 lb turkey, roasting will take about 15 minutes per pound. That’s 3 hours and 45 minutes of roasting time at 350º F. With a standard electric oven, you can expect that it will use at least 2500 watts per hour (which is 2.5 kW.) Now we can do the math on what that will cost in California energy prices:

2.5 kw X  3.75 hours = 9.375 kilowatt hours (kWh)

9.375 kkWh x 15.23 cents (average energy price in CA) = $1.42

So there you have it—the average California turkey costs less that a buck-and-a-half to cook in the oven when you are roasting it with an electric oven. But that of course isn’t the only factor when it comes to your holiday energy usage.

PRO TIP: Each time you open the oven or grill to look at your beautifully stuffed bird, you lose a significant amount of heat. Keeping those “bird watchers” out of your kitchen will keep your oven time to a minimum.

The Cost of House Guests

Thanksgiving is for family and friends. Are you hosting this year? More guests means more energy usage. Here’s why:

  • With guest coming in and out, your door will be opening and closing more often. This puts a strain on your heating and cooling appliances as they try to maintain your home comfort.  

  • Family coming in from out of town? You will also see an increase in hot water usage.

  • How many cooks are in the kitchen? Opening and closing your refrigerator can start to add up.

  • Is the parade on? What about the big football game? Factor the TV to your energy usage; it can start to add up.

Save That Money For Christmas Presents

The first step towards saving energy at home over the holidays is as simple as being aware of the ways in which your home is wasting energy. Check the oven and refrigerator less, keep the door closed as much as possible when guests arrive, and turn off the TV when you don’t need it.

And what’s more, is that your heating system may be in need of a proper tune-up and maintenance in order to operate at peak efficiency. Or perhaps with advanced energy monitoring you can gain real time insights into your home energy usage. At Brower, we start with an energy audit to expose any potential issues that could really put a damper on your Thanksgiving feast. From there, we can provide detailed and customized upgrades to your home that will save you money and spare you from headaches and uncomfortable emergencies.

Plus, with the year round sun that Sacramento, California gets, your home is more than likely a great candidate for the renewable energy of solar power!

Don’t let your energy bill gobble up your fun this Thanksgiving. Call the experts at Brower Mechanical before your guests arrive! You can chat with us at (916) 624-0808 or contact us today.