I always get a lot of requests when I’m with customers about the ‘right’ way to use their Aga. The truth is that everyone differs in their preferences but there are a few things you can do to save a few pennies! Before you worry about any of this you’ll need to get the basics working right of course – see our page on how we can help you improve the efficiency of your Aga here. For more tips and to join our community do have a look at our Facebook page - it's always good fun!
Run your Aga at the right temperature! The front thermometers on Aga's are very inaccurate. New ones don't even have the black indicator line as it's often so far out! Use an Aga oven thermometer to get the temperature right and then make a small mark in the aluminium front plate with a corkscrew or similar. See our FAQ for 'How hot should my Aga be?'
*NEW tip* Isolate the heating in your kitchen! Do you have a radiator on in the kitchen? It's probably pointless as your heating thermostat will be in the, much cooler, hallway usually. Turn the kitchen radiator off entirely and save your central heating some work. It's not a question of using less fuel for the Aga but about offsetting it by using less elsewhere. This tip is closely related to the following one...
*NEW tip* Spread the heat around! Is your kitchen super warm while the rest of the house freezes? Don't shut the heat in all the time. Prop the kitchen door open once you have finished supper and let some of the inevitable heat loss from your cooker warm the rest of the house. Let air circulate by propping open a bedroom door upstairs too and cool air will drop slowly as the warm air from your cooker rises. Your Aga won't use any less fuel but your central heating is getting a helping hand from heat that is released naturally from your cooker.
Keep your Aga doors shut! Once you’ve turned it down, see above!, become obsessive about conserving that heat. When you turn roasting vegetables in the oven for example remove the pan entirely and shut the door while you do it. If you added up the minutes it takes to turn veg four or five times over the course of cooking you’d never leave the door open for that long in one go so don’t do it!
The fridge freezer is your enemy! If you cook a large joint of meat direct from the fridge or freezer you need to draw heavily on the Aga’s heat reserves before any cooking actually starts so let room temperature be your friend and let things defrost or de-chill slowly on the kitchen table before you pop them in the Aga.
Tap water is cruel to your Aga! Nothing cools an Aga faster than a big pan of cold water from the tap sat on the hot plate. If I turn up to clean an Aga and the customer has forgotten to turn it off I can have it cool in an hour by keeping big pans of cold water on the hot plates - that’s how fast it happens! As ever the Aga is not really responding to the heat loss and just carries on trickling heat into the hot plate gently while the heat is sucked out at a tremendous pace. If you want to boil veg make use of your electric kettle to heat the water first – its vastly more efficient! This leads nicely onto number 5, read on!
Use the simmering oven to simmer things – that’s what it’s there for! If you want to boil veg add boiling water to your pan from your electric kettle, give it a quick burst on the hot plate then pop it in the simmering oven. Only use the hot plates for frying or searing (and maybe toast) as having the lid open at all releases a tremendous amount of heat from your Aga ‘heat store’! You've probably heard of the 80/20 rule? Aim for 100/0 and save energy.
Use BIG pans on the hotplate! If you pop a little milk pan on the hotplate you expose most of the plate to the air instead of what you want to heat. Instead buy a broad shallow flat bottomed pan that covers as much of the hotplate as possible – you won’t waste heat and it will heat through much much quicker! Honestly the best thing to do is invest in a couple of deep and very high quality frying pans and then use these for everything!
Use hob covers! Now you don't have to buy mine but they do make a good example ;) Your Aga loses most of it's heat through the tops of the lids as the hotplates are up to 600 degrees directly below them. Insulated chefs pads like ours will cut down this heat loss and help your Aga recover it's heat loss a little quicker!
Turn it down some more! This one won’t suit everyone but if you do a lot of slow cooking consider turning the Aga right down. Your simmering oven will become a warming oven and the hotplates much slower but if you can manage with a ‘slow cooker’ Aga instead of a fierce oven then do so. You’ll still have a warm cooker to lean on (albeit it may not burn your bum anymore!) and you’ll save a fortune on running costs while enjoying nice slow cooked meals! Using one of our Aga oven thermometers you can adjust the Aga downward until you hit the magic 90-100degrees mark.
Dry your washing on the Aga! Ok so this won't reduce your Aga's fuel bill but even after you've made all the efficiency improvements possible your AGA still gives off a lot of heat. If you use this efficiently to dry your washing as an alternative to using a tumble dryer then you can cut your energy overall usage. You'll be offsetting your Agas cost against your tumble dryer and it is still real money saved! Invest in proper Aga drying racks and rails to stop scorch marks on your clothes or damaging the enamel.
Use an Aga toasting rack, NOT an electric toaster! Making toast on the Aga is super quick and because it's done with the lid down it uses almost none of your Aga's heat reserves. This is in contrast to an electric toaster which is effectively a electric fire! You'll save on the electricity costs of your toaster and in this way can offset more of your Agas running costs. Realistically you aren't going to save hundreds of pounds a year but every little helps in Aga terms!
Eek that's about it for now, but we'll keep you up to date by e-mail if we think of anymore! If we can help you refurbish your Aga or re-enamel it we'd love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting! Matthew