The Clean energy home series (Part 3): What are electric and induction cooktops?

The third blog in a series on how to electrify your home and transition to appliances that can run on renewable energy

induction cook stove
induction cook stove

Our clean energy intern Adelina Sederman writes about the benefits of induction stoves for cooking. Check out Adalina’s other blogs in this series on heat pumps for heating and coolingheat pump water heaters, and everything else

My first experience with an electric stove was a little intimidating. I grew up with a gas-powered cooker in my home, and I always thought of an open flame as a more natural way of cooking. But when I moved to Copenhagen – a place proclaimed as one of the world’s leading green cities – for my study abroad program, my IKEA-style apartment came with a sleek induction stovetop. Over the course of the semester, I came to learn how electric cooking is not only easier, but it’s also better for the environment and public health.

What are the problems of cooking with gas?

Gas stoves run on fossil fuels, a dirty and non-renewable energy source. They emit several unhealthy gases — such as methane, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde — which can worsen respiratory issues and lead to heart disease and cancer. Emissions happen while cooking but can also occur when the burners are turned off due to gas leaks.

Gas stove burners
Raw Pixel | Public Domain
A growing body of research finds gas stoves use emits health-harming pollutants inside homes and – alarmingly – gas stoves leak toxic chemicals and carcinogens even while off.

Furthermore, gas companies have been pushing the narrative that gas stoves cook better than electric stoves while hiding the implications of the fumes gas stoves release. These promotional campaigns have worked. The number of Americans using gas stoves has increased from less than 30% in the 70s to 50% as of 2019.

We want to change that. Switching to an electric stove can ensure that dangerous pollutants aren’t released into our kitchens, and it will be an integral step in ensuring that a home can run on renewable energy.

Electric stoves offer choice without the pollution

Highly efficient electric appliances can replace fossil-fueled versions and are often more effective. In particular, electric stovetops have made tremendous strides technologically  over the past couple decades. For example, electric cooktops, which are cost-equivalent to mid-tier gas cooktops, cook faster, work cleaner, heat to more precise temperatures and are safer to use. When I cooked with my electric stove, I no longer smelled fumes in the kitchen because I wasn’t burning gas.

induction stove
Dennis Schroeder, NREL | Public Domain
October 3, 2017 - Home energy saving devices from the 2017 Solar Decathlon in Denver, CO. Induction stove. (Dennis Schroeder/NREL).

Another option is switching to an induction stove, which uses new-age technology that brings more to the table than traditional electric stoves. The burners composed of electromagnetic coils allow the induction system to generate more accurate and more powerful temperatures. The coils operate by creating an electromagnetic field with small, fluctuating waves that induces even smaller electric currents in the metal of an iron or stainless-steel pot that is placed on the stovetop. This adds another safety element, since the coils only heat when magnetic-bottom cookware is on the burner. No open flames are involved.

An induction stove is also going to use less power to cook faster than gas and electric options.  I remember my first time making oatmeal on the induction stove. After putting my cup of water in a saucepan to boil, I walked away to fetch my oatmeal container from the pantry. Coming back seconds later, the water was already boiling. I turned down the heat, added my oats and cinnamon, and two minutes later had a warm bowl of oatmeal. My apartment didn’t have a microwave, but the ability to quickly heat something on my induction stove certainly made up for it.

Induction cooking is growing in popularity with the professional cooking industry. Chef Jon Kung is famous for exploring cultural identity, cooking American and Chinese cuisine on a sleek, portable induction stovetop. Similarly, Chef Rachelle Boucher is an induction influencer, preaching the pleasures of electric cooktops through Instagram and Tik Tok videos where she demonstrates boiling water in under a minute. These chefs and many others are paving the way for the restaurant industry and home cooks to move to clean-energy driven induction cooking.

We need to ensure cooking is done efficiently and without fossil fuels to ensure 100% of American homes become powered by electricity.

If your gas stove is soon due for a replacement, you have the opportunity to go electric. Below you will find more resources about how clean energy tax credits can help you make the switch by helping cover the cost of upgrading your home’s electrical wiring  to accommodate an electric stove as well as covering the cost of the appliance. You can also find more resources about the benefits of induction stoves and our Clean energy home toolkit, which explores other ways you can help your home run on clean renewable energy.

Topics
Authors

Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Johanna directs strategy and staff for Environment America's energy campaigns at the local, state and national level. In her prior positions, she led the campaign to ban smoking in all Maryland workplaces, helped stop the construction of a new nuclear reactor on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and helped build the support necessary to pass the EmPOWER Maryland Act, which set a goal of reducing the state’s per capita electricity use by 15 percent. She also currently serves on the board of Community Action Works. Johanna lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family, where she enjoys growing dahlias, biking and the occasional game of goaltimate. 

Adelina Sederman

Clean energy intern

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staff | TPIN

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