Safer electric alternatives to gas stoves

Gas stoves put our health and environment at risk. When it's time to replace your gas stove, consider electric or induction stove.

Clean energy

pixelshot | Pixabay.com
Jordan Hamrick
Jordan Hamrick

Former Utility Watchdog Campaigner, Illinois PIRG

For many of us, gas stoves are so common that you may not have ever considered the risks they pose to your health. But the scientific evidence is overwhelming and unambiguous: gas stoves pose significant health risks. 

Gas combustion from a single stove can create a level of indoor air pollution that would be illegal outdoors under national air quality standards. Nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and particulate matter are all released into your home’s air from gas stoves, even when you are not cooking. The high amount of pollution caused by gas stoves increases the risk of diagnosed childhood asthma by 24 percent. That level of air pollution is comparable to living with a smoker.

The pollution and harmful health impacts created by gas stoves are not worth the risk when there are healthier, safer alternatives. Electric and induction stoves do not pose the same threat of health risks caused by air pollution and they outperform gas when it comes to cooking time and energy efficiency. When it comes time to replace your stove, you can end the unnecessary pollution and health risks from gas stoves by switching to an electric-powered stove. If you rent or are not ready to replace your gas stove, you can shift some of your cooking to smaller electric appliances, like single or double-burner induction cooktops.

What type of electric stove is best for you?

While electric and induction stoves draw energy from the same source, they heat your food differently. Conventional electric stoves, whether it is a coil range or a flat top, produce heat from a central source, typically a metal coil, that you then place your cookware on top to heat. An induction stove creates a magnetic current to heat your cookware directly. These differences mean there is a difference in efficiency, upkeep, and price. Learn more to decide which is right for you.

Electric coil range

Electric coil ranges work by heating an exposed metal element or coil. You place your cookware on top of the coil and it heats your food through the process of thermal conduction. Because your pot or pan is in direct contact with the heat source, coil ranges cook food faster than electric flat tops. Coils are typically made out of steel which makes them incredibly durable but slow to cool down and harder to clean than a stove with a glass or ceramic surface. One of the biggest benefits of a coil range compared to a flat top or induction is that the initial cost is less and it is easier to replace a single coil than an entire glass stovetop.

Electric flat top

As with an electric coil range, a flat-top electric stove heats a metal element to cook food. The key difference is that a piece of glass or ceramic is placed over the element to create a flat, smooth surface. Having a smooth surface makes it easier to wipe down after everyday use but the glass and ceramic are at risk of scratching or cracking.

A flat-top stove typically creates a more even distribution of heat compared to a coil range. However, flat tops take longer to heat up because the heat has to transfer from the element to the stove surface and then to your pan. Flat tops tend to cool down faster than coil ranges but since the heating element is not visible, you run the risk of touching a hot part of the stove without realizing it.

Induction

Induction cooktops are powered with electricity but do not have a heated metal element. Instead, induction stoves use a copper coil to create a magnetic current between the coil and the magnetic metals in your cookware. This means that your pot or pan is heated directly rather than the heat being transferred from another source, making induction faster and more efficient than both electric coil ranges and flat tops.

Induction cooktops are three times as energy efficient as gas stoves and nearly 5-10% more efficient than electric stoves. The vast majority of the electricity consumed by an induction stove goes directly towards cooking the food because it heats the cookware directly. In contrast, gas stoves allow significant amounts of heat energy to escape into the atmosphere.

The magnetic current cannot be created without the presence of a magnetic metal so there is much less of a risk of burning yourself on an induction stove compared to electric stoves which heat indiscriminately. Additionally, they cool down faster than electric flat tops because the glass surface for induction is not used in heat transfer and does not get as hot.

Installing an electric or induction stove

On average, induction stoves are more expensive to purchase than conventional electric stoves, but that difference is decreasing as induction stoves become more popular. Additionally, you will save money on your electric utility bill with an induction stove because they are more energy efficient than conventional electric stoves.

Because induction stoves create heat through magnetism, they require cookware with a certain amount of iron inside. Many popular materials including stainless, blue, and carbon steel, cast iron, enamel, or ceramic-coated iron work for induction stoves. Conventional electric stoves function with any cookware because they use a general heating element. 

When switching from a gas stove to an electric-powered stove, remember to check the electrical requirements of the new range. Particularly with induction stoves, you will likely need to run a 40 amp circuit to the area of installation from your service panel. Depending on the electrical capacity of your service panel, it may need to be upgraded to accommodate the additional electrical load.

How to try induction for less

If you are interested in an induction stove but rent or are not ready buy an entire induction range, you can buy a single or double burner induction cooktop. Using a plug-in induction cooktop means you can cook anywhere you have an outlet, making it perfect for apartments, small spaces, or just trying it out. The average price of a single burner induction cooktop is less than $200 and you can receive $100 towards induction with ComEd’s appliance rebate. You can get the benefits of induction without purchasing an entire range.

Prezemek Klos and MayMos | Used by permission

Ways to save

There are rebates and incentives available to help you purchase a new electric or induction stove. The Inflation Reduction Act includes $4.5 billion in funding for states to provide rebates for energy efficient appliances. You could save up to $840 on a new electric or induction stove, and up to an additional $500 if you are switching from gas or propane. You can also use Inflation Reduction Act tax credits to help cover the cost of any needed electrical upgrades.  

ComEd also offers a rebate for the purchase and installation of an ENERGY STAR certified appliance. The rebate for an induction stove or cooktop is $100 with higher rebate amounts available to income-eligible customers. 

Whether you prefer an electric or induction stove, both will end the release of toxic chemicals and air pollution from gas stoves. Replacing just a single appliance can make healthier, safer indoor air a reality in your home.

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Jordan Hamrick

Former Utility Watchdog Campaigner, Illinois PIRG

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