Electric Stoves Are Much Better for the Environment than Gas Stoves. Here's Why. Recent studies show that gas stoves pose risks to your health and the environment.
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For decades, Americans were told that gas stoves made you a better chef. The campaigns have been effective — today, 35% of U.S. homes cook with gas.
But recent studies show that gas stoves pose risks to your health and the environment.
Cooking with gas stoves creates nitrogen dioxide, which has been linked to asthma. A recent study published by researchers at Stanford calculated that the emission of nitrogen dioxide from certain gas burners or ovens was higher than the standard set for outdoors by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Moreover, gas stoves leak methane, even when turned off. Methane and nitrogen dioxide contribute to air pollution by forming ozone and smog. Methane is also a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. The problem is so bad that California recently became the first state to ban natural gas-powered stoves by 2030.
For all these reasons, electric range stoves are the safer and more eco-friendly option if you're aiming for a more sustainable 2023. They're also big business. According to an industry report, the global electric stoves market is expected to reach $21.70 billion in 2026.
Electric stoves can also save you money. A major part of the new law's $369 billion for climate initiatives is rebates and tax credits for consumers switching from fossil fuels to electricity, including electric stoves
What is an electric stove?
Electric stoves were introduced in 1892 and popularized by a Canadian electric company that marketed the stoves by cooking an entire meal with nothing but electricity in Ottawa's Windsor hotel.
Soon electric range stoves became popular because they were easier to clean, less expensive, and faster. But over the years, gas stoves have become fashionable, with many cooks swearing that the blue flame can heat food much quicker than an electric coil.
Still, most Americans (63%) use electric stoves, according to a 2018 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
There are three types of electric stoves: coil-top, glass-top, and induction. Coil-top (also called conventional) and glass-top (also called radiant) stoves work very similarly. In both cases, each of the burners operates on independent circuits. When they turn on, 120 volts of electricity run through the circuit and combine in the coil to generate heat. The only difference comes from how they connect to the pan. A coil top has an exposed metal coil, while a radiant stove top has the coil hidden under a flat glass or ceramic top.
Meanwhile, induction stoves use electromagnetic coils underneath a ceramic or glass surface. The electromagnetic coils only generate heat when they come into contact with iron that closes the circuit through magnetic resistance. This means the stove generates heat in the pan itself instead of generating heat in the coil and transferring it to the pan.
What is the difference between gas and electric stoves?
Stoves are made up of four to six burners for sauteing, pan-frying, or boiling your favorite foods. Stoves often come on top of ovens, and this combination appliance is called a "range."
Gas stoves were invented in 1834. They replaced the much more labor-intensive wood or coal-burning stoves and gained popularity, partly because you could turn them off when you weren't using them.
A gas line connects to the burners, and when you turn the knob, you release a certain amount of gas. Most stoves have electric ignition, so a tiny spark lights the gas and creates the flame when you press the stove dial.
How does stove type impact cooking?
Each stovetop (gas, coil top, glass top, and induction) has pros and cons. Some consider gas stoves better for cooking because you have more precise control over the heat and because the size of a flame changes as you turn a knob.
On the other hand, oil and glass top stoves adjust the temperature more slowly since the entire coil has to heat up or cool down. The coils also retain heat once turned off, increasing the risk of burns.
When it comes to the future of food, look to induction stove tops which have the best of both worlds. By delivering heat directly to the cookware, induction stoves offer precise and fast heat control and zero energy loss. This precise heat control also reduces burns and makes cleaning easier. Despite these beneficial qualities, they only work with select cookware, such as stainless steel or cast iron, which both hold magnets.
How do electric stoves impact your health and the planet?
Toxic fumes are a significant downside of gas stoves. These stoves emit methane and nitrogen oxides (NOx) on and off — thanks to leaks. Despite retailers often failing to inform customers of the risks, these chemicals impact our health and our environment.
When it comes to the planet, methane has the biggest impact. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), makes up 70 to 90 percent of natural gas, which powers gas stoves. Simply owning a gas stove contributes to GHG emissions, given that 75 percent of methane leakage occurs when the stove is off.
Across the U.S., gas stoves have an annual climate impact equal to emissions from 500,000 cars. This statistic should alarm you if you love cooking, seeing as climate change can threaten some of the best ingredients in our meals.
As for your health, elevated levels of NOx pose a major threat. Just boiling water produces 184 parts per billion (ppb) of NOx, which is twice the recommended amount of indoor exposure based on the Canadian National Standard. This heightened exposure increases the risk for childhood asthma, irritates airways, reduces antioxidant defenses, and impacts the cardiovascular system and brain development.
When is the right time to purchase an electric stove?
If you want to improve your health and save money, now is a great time to switch to electric. Given the benefits associated with electric stoves, governments are incentivizing people to make the switch.
As part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the U.S. government set aside $4.5 billion for rebates on electric appliances, including full ranges and stoves. The rebates target middle and low-income households. They cover appliance and installation costs but are capped at $840 per household.
In addition to federal incentives, dozens of cities have banned the installation of gas appliances in new homes. Those implementing bans include major cities like Los Angeles and New York. However, about 20 states responded by passing laws forbidding the prohibition of gas appliances.
Keep Cooking Healthy
Whether you're looking to cook at home or get into the food business, consider what appliances you'll use. While you may associate gas stoves with fine food, we now know much more about their toll on our health and the environment. Also, introducing induction stoves has elevated the quality of electric stoves. Investing in an induction stove will keep cooking healthy and delicious food while helping save your health and that of our planet.