energy efficient stoves

The most energy efficient stoves are not only better for the environment, but they’ll help you save on your electricity bill, and can even make cooking faster and easier. 

In our modern, technologically-driven lives, we all use a great deal of energy. It’s important to make the most efficient use of that energy possible, from our heating to the stovetops in our kitchens, in order to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and look after the planet. Something as simple as choosing an energy efficient stove for your kitchen, for example, could go a long way toward decreasing your overall household energy consumption.

But how do you know which is the most energy efficient stove? 

What are the most energy efficient stoves?

Let’s take a closer look at these energy efficient stoves. We’ll examine gas, electric and induction stoves, compare the energy efficiency of each, as well as weighing up their pros and cons.

Induction stoves

Although induction stoves run on electricity, they work in a very different way to electric stovetops. Induction stoves are by far one of the most energy-efficient stoves available today, if not the most efficient. Let’s find out why.

a pan with an egg cooking on an induction stove

How induction stoves work

Rather than heating an element like an electric stove, induction stoves run an alternating current (AC) through the heating element. This creates an electromagnetic field, exciting the elements within the pots and pans themselves.

These elements sit under a glass stovetop that is easy to clean. Furthermore, in this process, the cookware heats up very quickly, and also cools quickly when you turn off the stove.

Therefore, not only are induction stoves extremely efficient, but they also offer a high degree of control when cooking.

Energy efficiency of induction stoves

Studies have confirmed that induction stoves are the most efficient.

Induction stovetops are about 84% efficient, compared to 74% for smooth-top radiant stoves, and 40% for gas stove tops.

This energy efficiency not only helps you to save energy, but they also work faster than gas or electric stoves, so you’ll be able to boil liquid or heat food more quickly.

As with electric stoves, induction stoves are most eco-friendly when used with electricity from renewable sources, such as wind or solar.

However, if you must run your stove on fossil fuels induction stoves are a good option because they are more efficient, so will use less fuel and generate fewer emissions for the heat they produce.

This is confirmed by research from the US Energy Information Administration, who advise that induction stoves have by far the lowest carbon dioxide emissions for the same outcome compared to other types of stoves.

Why induction stoves are safer

Because of the way that induction stoves work, they heat up the pot or pan rather than heating the stovetop. The stove itself stays pretty cool, so there’s no risk of burns or fires.

Water boiling on an induction stove with newspaper in-between the pan and the stove
Water boiling on an induction stove with a newspaper in between the stove and the pan.
Source: Wikimedia / Wtshymanski

You’ll also avoid the irritating and potentially toxic gases that can accumulate indoors when using gas stoves.

These kinds of stovetops won’t heat up your kitchen as much as a gas or electric stove, as they simply don’t produce heat, making them ideal for cooking in summer or in small spaces such as boats and motorhomes. Furthermore, you don’t have the issue of food burning onto the cook top, so these energy efficient stoves are super easy to clean!

Smart programming

Induction cooktops use advanced technology that can be programmed for easy customization. In some models, you have the option to program them to start or stop at specific times, or change temperature after a certain amount of time.

Some induction cooktops can even detect vibrations that indicate water is boiling, and adjust the temperature accordingly.

Most will turn off automatically when a pan is removed for better safety and energy efficiency.

Limitations of induction stovetops

Induction stoves have many advantages, but they also have their limitations.

You can only use specific types of cookware with induction stovetops – you’ll need ferromagnetic pots and pans that respond to the AC current that induction stovetops use. So you may need to buy a whole new set of cookware along with your new induction stove.

a pan on an induction stove
Place a magnet on the bottom of your pan, if it sticks well – your pan can be used on an induction stove.

The glass-ceramic stovetop can also be damaged or scratched easily, for example by moving pots and around on the surface too much.

An induction stove can also take some getting used to, as they work so much more quickly than other types of cooktops. So this can be a bit of a learning curve and you may find yourself burning meals at first!

Because most induction stovetops turn off automatically when you remove the pan, lifting a pan to toss the food can also be problematic.

Pros of induction stoves:

  • Induction stoves are the most energy efficient of all types of stove tops.
  • These stoves offer a high degree of temperature control.
  • Induction stoves are safer and easier to clean as the stovetop itself doesn’t heat up.

Cons of induction stoves: 

  • You can only use certain types of cookware with induction stoves.
  • The surface is easier to damage than other stovetop types.

Electric stoves

Electric stoves can be reasonably energy efficient, depending on the type of electric stove. Other factors, such as how easy they are to use and their eco-friendly credential vary across different types of electric stovetops.

electric stove

The different types of electric stoves

There are a range of electric stoves available, from coil stoves to radiant stovetops. The latter have good energy efficiency and are also easy to clean and maintain.

  • Radiant stovetops with halogen elements and a ceramic-glass surface are pretty energy efficient. Although not as much as gas, they’re reasonably responsive to temperature changes (especially if you use a flat-bottomed pan with good contact with the stovetop), which not only aids energy efficiency but also makes cooking easier.
  • On the other hand, electric coil stovetops are not energy efficient at all – they’re the worst choice you can make when looking for an energy-efficient stove. They become even less efficient if you use pans that are bigger or smaller than the coils

Can be run on renewable energy

In terms of the eco-friendliness of electric stoves, this really depends on where your electricity comes from. If you use electricity from the grid (that comes from a coal power plant), using your stove will indirectly produce greenhouse gases, air pollution, and other environmental hazards.

However, if you run your home on renewable energy, whether through your own solar panels or wind turbine, or by using an electricity provider with renewable energy sources, your stove will be as environmentally-friendly as possible.

Fewer indoor air pollutants

A big plus of electric stoves is that they produce a lot fewer indoor air pollutants compared to gas stoves. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you can dispense with your range hood, even with an electric stove. Particulate matter and gasses can be released from the food you cook, and some types of cookware can also give off harmful gases.

How to make electric stoves more efficient

There are two things that can greatly lower the efficiency of any electric stove:

  • pans that don’t fit the size of the hot plate
  • pans that don’t have proper contact with the hot plate.

Both of these things mean that a lot of heat escapes into the atmosphere rather than being used to heat the pan.

Therefore, using pans with a flat bottom that closely match the coil or halogen hot plate make electric stoves as energy-efficient as possible.

The shiny surface of the grease catcher on a coil stove also reflects heat, so cleaning it regularly helps to improve energy efficiency.

Pros of electric stoves:

  •  Radiant stovetops with halogen elements are reasonably energy efficient.
  • They are very eco-friendly if run on renewable energy.
  • They generate significantly fewer indoor pollutants than gas stovetops.

Cons of electric stoves: 

  • Electric soil stovetops are the least energy-efficient of any type of stove. 
  • Energy-efficiency is further lowered if you use a pan that doesn’t match the size or sit flat on the hot plate.

Gas stoves

Gas has long been a favorite of amatuer and professional cooks alike, because it gives you instant heat that makes it easy to control cooking temperatures. It is also more versatile, providing cooking techniques that are not possible on electric or induction stoves such as charring.

a pan with water boiling on a gas stove

Energy efficiency

In terms of energy efficiency, gas is generally pretty efficient, though this depends on the model of the stove. Most importantly, models with electric ignition use up to 40 percent less gas than those with a continually-burning pilot light, which is typically found in older models.

Is gas eco-friendly?

Natural gas is a fossil fuel, however, it is more eco-friendly than electricity that comes from coal-burning power plants. Although natural gas is non-renewable and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, newer, efficient gas plants emit 50 – 60% less carbon dioxide compared to coal plants.

However, the best option from an environmental perspective would be electric or induction stoves run on renewable energy, whether electricity from renewable sources or your own home solar system.

Air quality

Other than the fact they run on fossil fuels, the major drawback of gas stoves is that they have a negative impact on air quality, particularly if the stove doesn’t have an exhaust hood. Gas stoves give out nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO), all of which can be problematic for people with asthma, emphysema, or other respiratory illnesses.

Research by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University showed that cooking with a gas stove can increase indoor NO2 concentrations by 25-33% in summer, and 35-39% in winter. Furthermore, gas stoves were found to add 30% to indoor CO air concentration in summer, and 21% in winter.

When a range hood was not used, the researchers found levels of household exposure to these gases that exceeded federal guidelines.

Pros of gas stoves:

  • Gas stoves are relatively efficient (especially stoves with electric ignition), more than electric coil stoves, but less than induction stoves.
  • They give instant heat, allowing you to quickly control temperatures when cooking.
  • They are very versatile, allowing you to char food along with other cooking techniques.

Cons of gas stoves:  

  • Gas lowers indoor air quality, emitting harmful gases such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO), though this can be somewhat mitigated by using a range hood.
  • Natural gas is a fossil fuel, a nonrenewable resource that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, though less than coal.

The most energy-efficient stoves

In short, induction stove tops are the most energy efficient stoves.

The unique way that induction stovetops work means that they use less energy to heat up food and liquids more quickly, and give you excellent temperature control. Not to mention that many modern induction stoves have a range of smart functions.

Gas stoves are reasonably efficient, but run on natural gas which is a fossil fuel. Halogen electric stoves are also pretty efficient, but electric coil stoves are the least energy-efficient option of all!

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