An outreach project, led by the University of Nottingham, hopes to reduce fuel poverty in the city one meal at a time by teaching people how to make their own energy saving slow cooker.
At a time when the cost of living is at its highest level in a decade, people across the UK are doing all they can to try and minimise their household bills. With 17% of an average household’s energy bills being consumed in the kitchen, according to the Energy Saving Trust, the Faculty of Engineering’s Food, Water, Waste research group has teamed up with Tiger Community Enterprise CIC to deliver workshops for volunteers.
The project has been inspired by the concept of hayboxes, as well as the simple but revolutionary non-electric slow cookers that originated in South Africa. After bringing a pot of food to the boil on a stove, they can cook food for up to eight hours without any additional energy source – which could not only save households money on their bills in the long run but simultaneously cut down their carbon footprint too.
Mike Clifford, Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham, said: “One area of my work is looking into how we can adopt safer, cleaner and more energy-efficient cooking technologies – and this work has taken me to several countries where I’ve seen a variety of approaches.
“During a cooking exhibition in Ghana, I was introduced to the concept and was instantly impressed by its simplicity, safety, price, and environmental benefits. Cooking with this principle reduces fuel consumption by 70%, as all you do is bring a pot of food to the boil on the stove and then transfer it to the bag where it will continue cooking – just like a slow cooker.
“Ever since I was introduced to this fantastic piece of technology and its benefits, I’ve been keen to work with the Nottingham community to help people not only reduce their household bills and carbon footprint but maybe even learn some new recipes at the same time – and Tiger was the perfect candidate.”
Tiger Community Enterprise CIC was set up to aid individuals and organisations in their growth. It has since evolved to encompass the Tiger Community Hub, which delivers projects that offer a wide range of opportunities for people to enhance their own skills, supports the mental health of the community, and works with partners to offer a wide range of activities.
Toni Jarvis, Director at Tiger, said: “We are excited by this new project to produce a Tiger Slow Cook Bag using this principle. We’re using different insulation in the prototypes, including fleece from a local rare breed of sheep, and testing the efficiency of the bags. This will enable us to produce supporting literature and look at how best we can adapt the making of the bags to support the wider community.”
The first session took place at Tiger on Thursday 26 January, with more in the pipeline over coming weeks, where volunteers had the opportunity to create their own bag from scratch, test out the efficacy of different materials and put the bags to the test with a range of recipes.
Mike added: “With household bills soaring, we’re all looking to identify new ways to reduce the impact on our day-to-day lives, and I hope that these workshops will go some way to providing another option for people when it comes to minimising outgoings. This is just the first of what I hope will be many workshops with Tiger and the people of Nottingham, and I look forward to introducing more people to this fascinating way of cooking.”