Happy Thanksgiving, MNN readers!


Although you may currently be super-busy self-medicating, furiously cleaning, prepping your Black Friday shopping outfit, or trying your best not light yourself on fire, I thought I'd be remiss not to chime in with a few helpful kitchen-related energy-saving pointers via the Department of Energy.


The folks at the DOE may know squat about brining, basting, and boozing, but they do know how to help you knock off a few bucks on your monthly utility bills. Around 15 percent of total household energy costs are generated in the kitchen with that figure most likely rising during the season of holly-jolly cookery. So set down that spatula and bottle of Xanax and let's take a look at a few tips, shall we?


You know that door to the oven? Keep it closed! There's a very good reason that oven manufacturers include an interior light: each time you open the oven door, the inside temperature is reduced by as much as 25 degrees. This, of course, leads to longer cook times (delaying the amount of time you can spend sprawled out of the couch with a glass of scotch) and higher bills. 

• Give the furnace a break: Unless you prefer to provide your Thanksgiving guests with a sweltering "inferno" style climate (plus side: they'll be extra drowsy/docile; downside: Uncle Albert may take off his shirt), it wouldn't hurt to dial back the thermostat a couple of degrees considering all those extra stuffed, heat-generating bodies in your home and the fact that the oven and stovetop will presumably be working overtime throughout the day and evening.

• Clean the stovetop burners: When cooking with electric stovetops, a solid way to decrease cooking times is to keep the reflector pans under the burners spic n' span. Cleaning them is a thankless task — here's a few thoughts on how to go about it. 

Keep your oven temp in check: From the DOE: "A freestanding oven thermometer is a great way to check out how hot your oven really gets. Many ovens vary slightly from the dial you're setting your cooking temperature at—by testing your oven temperature at several settings (325, 350, 375 and 400°F), you can find out if your oven runs hot or cool, and factor an extra 25°F or so into your cooking, if necessary. Always check your freestanding oven thermometer to verify the temperature so that you're not needlessly cranking up the heat on an already hot oven!"


Also, I'd like to take a moment to extend my gratitude to everyone for reading this here little green home blog. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy reporting on light bulbs the latest in Mother Nature-approved home design, architecture, gardening, real estate, and home improvement (with a few traffic-snaring novelty items thrown in for good measure). MNN is approaching its fourth year (!) and I’ve been part of it pretty much since the beginning so a huge props to all you readers, Facebook followers, re-Tweeters, and community members for helping make the Mother Nature Network what it is today.


And as a resident of New York City's Evacuation Zone A, I also have a lot to be thankful for. My gratitude to everyone who sent their best wishes  and offered up their air mattresses  during my two weeks of anxiety-filled displacement following Superstorm Sandy. Although my low-lying Brooklyn nabe of Red Hook is still in recovery/rebuild mode, I'm officially sleeping in my own bed again. Sure, it smells like the Exxon Valdez unloaded on my doorstep and I'm currently sans cell phone reception, a functional apartment buzzer, and a pizzeria but, honestly, I can't complain. I'm lucky. My deepest gratitude goes out to the hundreds upon hundreds of volunteers who descended on Red Hook, the place that I call home, over the past three weeks to help my neighbors dig — and pump — out when the entities that you'd think would be there to provide disaster relief were nowhere to be seen. To say that your work was crucial would be the greatest understatement of 2012. 


I'll see you bright and early next week, food coma be damned, with this year’s “Green Monday” home design gift guide, a roundup of handmade holiday décor, and a post announcing some pretty big small-minded news out of San Francisco. And because I'm a sadistic jerk, I'm leaving you with the below video for your Thanksgiving entertainment. 


Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Thanks-saving: Conserving energy during the high holiday of at-home cookery
Like your fugly sweatered stepmother after one too many glasses of riesling, increased energy bills following a festive Thanksgiving meal can be upsetting. Here