Of all your household appliances, which one do you think uses the most energy? If you said refrigerator, you're right! Among the other high-usage appliances, dishwashers, washers, and dryers rank right up there (see the Energy Star web site for more info). In fact, up to one-third of a households total energy consumption occurs in the kitchen and laundry areas. But what about your gas stove?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cooking accounts for only 4.4% of a household's total energy consumption (Buildings Energy Data Book). It's so low, in fact, that Energy Star doesn't even calculate an optimal energy use rating for these appliances. But which is better - gas or electric?
If you're concerned about lowering your carbon footprint, gas is the better alternative. Not only does the gas come on immediately, producing heat at the moment of ignition, but it also allows for greater control of the cooking temperature. If your stove is electric, the power needs to be generated at the power plant, transmitted to your house, and then turned on to begin heating up the coils. The heat-up and cool-down periods of the coils end up utilizing more electricty than you need. And modern gas stoves don't use a pilot light that needs to remain on all the time - saving even more natural gas!
If you want to reduce your carbon footprint even more, consider getting an induction stove. Induction creates heat faster by magnetically accelerating metal molecules in steel, cast-iron and some stainless steel pots. With induction stoves, 90% of the energy is transferred to the cooking pot, compared with 35-40% with gas heat and 70% with electric heat (source: NY Times, January 2, 2008). However, the cost of an induction stove is out of reach for most homeowners ($700 - $1300 compared to $300 for an electric or gas stove).
Once you're cooking with gas, here are a few tips to save even more energy:
- Cover your pots - a covered pot of water will boil in half the time of an uncovered pot
- Use flat-bottomed steel, stainless steel, or cast iron pots and pans - they conduct heat faster
- Clean your burner grates often - the shiny metal will reflect more heat and energy upwards to the pot
If you have more tips on how to save money by cooking with gas, please share them here!
Until next time, Peace!