Everybody loves to gather around the grill for a summertime cookout. But did you realize that cooking outdoors can help you keep your energy bills under control during the hottest months? Your oven and stove produce heat that escapes into your home, forcing your air conditioner to work harder. Cooking out is as economical as it is fun and delicious!

If you’re considering an energy-saving cookout this Independence Day weekend, brush up on these grilling tips while you’re brushing the char off your grill:

  • It bears repeating -- brush that grill! A clean grilling surface is essential to safe cooking and preventing food from sticking. Cooked-on particles are easier to remove when the grill is hot, so you might find it easier to clean after the grill is fully warmed up.
  • Speaking of preheating -- don’t throw food on a cold grill. Let the grill preheat to your desired heat range, which may take up to 15 minutes. High heat is between 400 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas low heat is around 300 degrees. A simple rule of thumb is to hold your bare hand about five inches above the grill and see how quickly you need to pull your hand away. With low heat, you should last about 10 seconds. For medium heat, five seconds. High heat -- just two seconds.
  • Gather all your supplies so they’re right at hand when you need them. If your grill doesn’t have a side table attached, grab a TV tray or outdoor table to make sure you have room for all your tools and ingredients.
  • Use a chimney starter when cooking in a charcoal grill. You’ll be able to light your coals with just a couple pieces of newspaper, removing the need to buy lighter fluid and the risk that an odd flavor might get cooked into your food.
  • Prevent foods from sticking by oiling your grill before cooking. Soak a folded paper towel in vegetable oil and use tongs to brush the oil into the grate. Don’t use cooking spray -- the accelerant could start a dangerous fire.
  • To get that nice crosshatch char on your steaks and chops, turn each piece of meat 45 degrees when you’re halfway into cooking each side.
  • Make sure your meat is fully cooked by using an instant-read digital meat thermometer and referring to the appropriate food safety guidelines for the type of meat you’re grilling.

One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating wishes you a safe, fun and happy Independence Day weekend. Now start planning your menu and get ready to give your air conditioner a break!

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