Many people are trying to "go green" and consume as little energy as possible, while still maintaining their quality of life whenever possible. The toaster oven can help you to achieve this goal. On average, a toaster oven only uses half as much energy as a full-sized oven when in use. When you couple this with the fact that toaster ovens warm up more quickly than conventional ovens, the energy savings really start to add up.
If you are unsure if it is worth buying a new toaster oven to save a little on energy, start a cooking log. Keep track of what you are cooking and for how long. Measure the size of the baking dishes you use and the height of your food. See how many of the items could have been cooked in a toaster oven. This will give you an idea of how useful a toaster oven will be in your kitchen, and show you how often you could be saving energy.
If you decide to buy a toaster oven, keep that food log in mind when deciding on the size of toaster oven you want. Often well-meaning, environmentally conscious cooks are tempted to buy a small toaster oven to keep energy consumption as low as possible. But if the toaster oven you choose is too small to cook most of your food, you'll be using the energy-hogging full-sized oven more often. That won't get you the energy savings you are after. A better option is to put some thought into what size toaster oven best fits your culinary lifestyle.
Insulation matters when choosing a toaster oven for energy efficiency. Inexpensive toaster ovens just don't have a lot of insulation, which leads to heat escaping into the room. There is good news: even a poorly insulated toaster oven tends to be more energy efficient than a conventional full-sized oven. However, if you are interested in the ultimate in insulation and energy savings, check out the Breville Smart Oven. It is a bit pricey, but it consistently receives the best reviews and ratings. It has better insulation than most toaster ovens out there, including high-end models that cost more than the Breville.