What is the most energy-efficient and healthy type of stovetop? Here are the pros and cons of the three main types of cooktops: gas, electric, and induction.
There are two fuel supply options for ranges: One can be used for the cooktop and one for the oven. A gas stovetop with an electric oven, or an oven with a gas cooktop and an induction cooktop, might be included with your appliance. There are some cooktops with a combination of gas and electric burners, but these are rare.
Here are my recommendations for the best electric and induction ranges:
- The GE Profile 30-inch electric range is the clear winner since it is one of the few ranges that are Prop 65 certified.
- A Whirlpool WGE745C0FS range is another great option if you’re on a budget.
- GE Profile is my top choice for a 30-inch induction range, since it is one of the very few models to be Prop 65 certified.
The Pros and Cons of Gas Cooking
In addition to being easier to control, gas also creates instant heat, so it is often a favorite among keen cooks. With a gas stove, you can easily char food, which is not possible with an electric or induction stove. Gas is also fairly energy efficient, but check the British Thermal Unit (BTU) output of any gas stove before you purchase. A stove with a lower BTU is more energy efficient.
Although natural gas is a fossil fuel, it may be more environmentally friendly than electricity in many parts of the country. This is because a large portion of U.S. electricity still comes from coal-burning power plants (which had more relaxed emissions restrictions under the Trump administration).
However, while coal was the largest source of electricity generation in the US in 2015 (1.352 million GWh), it fell to third place by 2020 (0.774 million GWh), behind only natural gas (1.617 million GWh) and nuclear (0.790 million GWh). Therefore, electricity is still not as clean as I would like, but it is a little better than six years ago.
Consider getting a modern gas stove with an electric ignition if you do choose this option. They use up to 40 percent less gas than older models with a continuously-burning pilot light (R).
Gas cooking seriously compromises indoor air quality, which is a major disadvantage. If your stove does not have an exhaust hood, this can be a problem. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO) are released by gas stoves. For those with asthma, emphysema, or any respiratory illness or other health condition, these gases can be a real problem.
The Quality of Indoor Air Is Gas Stoves Really That Bad?
Recently, researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University developed a simulation model to estimate the likelihood of different household members being exposed to noxious gases when a gas stove is used in a typical manner. It was calculated based on air flow in the house, outdoor levels of NO2 and CO, and even assumptions about the proximity of small children to adults cooking breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
According to their calculations, gas stoves add 25–33% to indoor NO2 concentrations during summer and 35–39% in winter (due to lower ventilation in winter). The indoor CO concentration will increase by 30% due to gas stoves in summer and by 21% in winter (since the outdoor CO concentration will be lower in winter). The major contributors to indoor air formaldehyde levels were furniture and building materials, rather than gas stoves. When building and furnishing your home, it is imperative to research these factors!
When a range hood was not used to vent cooking fumes, the researchers found that household exposure exceeded federal and California state health-based standards. The researchers found that 1.7 to 12 million Californians would be exposed to levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide exceeding indoor air quality standards if they didn’t use a venting range hood while cooking. This is a significant public health issue in California, considering the spate of wildfires and outdoor air quality advisories already in place. Furthermore, young children, aged 0-5 in this model, were most at risk due to the proximity of a parent or caregiver cooking.
How to Mitigate Gas Stove Problems
Therefore, maintaining indoor air quality requires the use of a range hood. Now that quieter and more effective hoods are more common, they are more likely to be used. Let the Scandinavians inspire you if you’re wary of using a range hood that vents warm air outside. In Scandinavian countries, heat exchangers help reduce waste heat while reducing unwanted fumes. Another good option is to switch from a gas stove to an induction stove. It eliminates a significant amount of indoor air pollutants related to cooking.
Pros and Cons of Electric Cooking
Electric coil stovetops are more energy-efficient than gas stovetops and decrease contaminants in indoor air. Even so, it is still important to use a venting range hood when you cook. As a result of cooking, particulate matter and gases are released into the air.
Ceramic-glass surfaces and halogen elements on radiant electric stovetops are a decent choice for energy efficiency as they heat up quickly and are relatively responsive to temperature changes. Additionally, they’re fairly easy to clean. However, they only work well when there is good contact between the hot glass and the flat bottom of the pan.
With electric stovetops, you may be able to choose a renewable energy source to power your stove. You might accomplish this by installing solar panels on your roof or switching to a green energy provider. Cooking without gas would reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions and improve both outdoor and indoor air quality.
Furthermore, convection ovens reduce energy consumption by circulating hot air to make cooking more energy- and time-efficient.
Electric coil stovetops are the worst for energy efficiency, especially if you don’t use pans that match the size of the coils and don’t clean your grease catchers (their shiny surface reflects heat).
Heat is transferred inefficiently by coils or elements and a lot of waste heat is generated. As they heat up or cool down before or after cooking, they can also be quite unresponsive, which wastes energy. Again, when you use electric elements to cook with pans and pots that aren’t entirely flat on the bottom, there is a significant energy loss.
In terms of electric ovens, self-cleaning models are generally more energy-efficient because they are better insulated. However, when you actually use the self-cleaning mode, this consumes significant amounts of energy. If you use the self-cleaning mode more than once a month, any energy savings will be lost. After the oven has already been used to cook and is warm, use the self-cleaning mode to minimize excess energy consumption. As discussed above, self-cleaning models may emit noxious fumes from both their coatings and from burning food.
We also have compiled a guide that will help you choose portable electric stove, if you are looking for the best one.
Pros and Cons of Induction Stovetops
Cooking on induction stovetops is, by far, the most energy efficient option. The elements themselves do not heat up. An alternating current (AC) flows through the element, creating an electromagnetic field that excites the molecules in ferromagnetic pots and pans placed on top of the glass stovetop. Learn more about the science of induction here.
Since iron and steel aren’t very good electrical conductors, when their molecules get excited, they heat up, so your pans and pots become the source of heat instead of the element below. As a result, the cooktop itself remains relatively cool, while the heat is isolated to the pan. The pan cools very quickly when the current is turned off. If you turn the current back on, the pan heats up very quickly.
Therefore, induction cooking is very safe. Even a sheet of paper won’t catch fire on an induction cooktop. In addition to making cleaning your cooktop easier (no burned on food) and reducing energy waste, the glass itself stays cool.
Induction cooking is perfect for those who dislike cooking on a stove in the summer. In comparison to a gas stove or conventional electric stove, these cooktops don’t heat the air in the kitchen as much. Consequently, you also save on air-conditioning costs and energy consumption. Smaller spaces, such as tiny apartments, dorm rooms, office kitchens, boats, and motorhomes, are also ideal for induction cooktops. Their small size and low heat output make them an ideal choice. Get a single or double portable induction cooktop if you occasionally host big cookouts. With these, you can cook more for a party quickly.
You can even program some induction cooktops to turn down the temperature when they detect boiling water (through vibrations) or when a pan is removed, which are other benefits of induction cooktops.
How Energy-efficient Are Induction Cooktops?
Studies have proven that induction cooktops are more energy efficient: gas cooktops are about 40% efficient; electric coils and smooth-top electric cooktops are 74 percent efficient; and induction cooktops are 84 percent efficient.
Additionally, an induction stove heats food or liquids faster than a gas stove (5.8 seconds versus 8.3 seconds to boil water). Although burning natural gas is marginally better than burning coal (to power an electric stovetop) in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, induction outperforms both by a wide margin (propane gas is the worst offender).
In the water boiling experiment just described, natural gas released 1.16 pounds of CO2, compared to just 0.29 pounds with the induction stove (powered by the grid). Induction cooking is, in essence, emissions-free if you generate your own solar power. Induction cooktops may also be better for indoor air quality since less heat is needed for cooking, so there is less effluent.
Over the last few years, many professional kitchens have switched to induction cooking. It’s not surprising, given that induction offers better control, faster cooking, and reduced fume exposure.
Because induction cooking has such precise temperature control, professional and home chefs have an easier time making delicate sauces such as béarnaise and melting chocolate without a bain marie.
The learning curve for induction cooktops can be steep. It is true that converting to an induction cooktop can cause quick changes in your cooking habits. So, you won’t have to wait for a pan of oil to heat up while you chop onions. Before you peel the onion’s skin, the pan will be hot. Additionally, you will have to get used to the element shutting off if you lift a pan, say tossing the contents around. Keep in mind that moving the pan around on the stovetop surface may damage the glass-ceramic.
Induction stovetops have long been a favorite among Italian chefs and European homeowners, who frequently import them to the United States. Induction cooktops are still more expensive and less common than electric or gas stovetops.
The prices of home kitchen induction stovetops have dropped dramatically in recent years in the U.S. Part of this is due to their growing popularity.
It is a downside of induction cooktops that they only work with ferrous metal cookware. Stainless steel, cast iron, or carbon steel. Ceramic coated metal cookware can also be used on induction cooktops. If necessary, you can bridge the gap with an interface disk that transfers heat. Even so, cast iron is one of the most eco-friendly and healthy types of cookware!
See if a magnet sticks to the bottom of the pan or pot to determine if it will work on an induction stovetop.
Another consideration for induction cooking is that it can be difficult to use for very large pans and pots. This is why some people choose a stovetop that combines induction and natural gas burners.
Induction Cooktop Features to Look For
If you are considering an induction stovetop, look for the following features:
- Over-heat sensors
- Unsuitable cookware detectors
- Heat (watts) & Temperature (Degrees) control
- Delay timers
- Programmable memory functions
- Digital countdown timers
- Auto pan size detection
- Automatic shut-off
- Error codes for fault fixing
- Cooling fan noise
There have been some concerns about electromagnetic fields generated by induction cooktops. You can rest assured that there is no evidence of health problems caused by these devices. Indeed, the EMF drops off very quickly within a short distance (a couple of inches). Thus, if it occurs at all, exposure is minimal and poses no risk.
Hi there! I’m a food enthusiast and journalist, and I have a real passion for food that goes beyond the kitchen. I love my dream job and I’m lucky enough to be able to share my knowledge with readers of several large media outlets. My specialty is writing engaging food-related content, and I take pride in being able to connect with my audience. I’m known for my creativity in the kitchen, and I’m confident that I can be the perfect guide for anyone looking to take their culinary journey to the next level.