I used to wonder why electric kettles always kept going after the water started bubbling, but, physics not being my strong suit, I figured that the engineers knew something I didn’t. It seems, though, that my first intuitions were right. I’ve recently come across tips in two different places about switching off the kettle early. Apparently these little, useful things are energy hogs (sigh, it would be, wouldn’t it?) and do keep heating beyond the boiling point. The recommendation is to turn off the kettle as soon as the water starts boiling (big, loud bubbles).
I am actually quite picky about my water temperature. The water must be boiling when it hits my tea bags or coffee grounds, because it gives the best flavor in my experience. However, since I am usually standing around waiting for the kettle to boil anyway, I’ve decided to start turning it off as soon as it starts a rolling boil. Given how often we use the kettle in our house, this could add up to significant energy savings quite quickly.
It goes without saying that you should also take one night a month to descale your kettle, more if your water is especially hard. I use plain white vinegar to soak the kettle overnight, then I rinse and boil it in the morning to get rid of the vinegar, then I rinse it one more time and make my tea. It does actually help your kettle boil faster. If you are very organized, you can reuse the vinegar to descale your shower heads and taps. (I’m rarely that organized, but I suppose I could store it in a jar.)
Also, apparently boiling water scalds instant coffee and you get a better flavor if you take the kettle off when little bubbles start appearing. I don’t drink instant, but if anyone has tried this, please let me know how it turns out.
Oh, and you probably already know that you should only put the amount of water that you need into the kettle, instead of filling it up all the way. Bonus points to you if you have actually marked on the kettle how much your tea pot and cups hold…