Which is greener, gas or electric cooking?

Green Cooking Methods
Induction stovetops like this one are up to 50 percent more energy-efficient than gas and electric ones.
Induction stovetops like this one are up to 50 percent more energy-efficient than gas and electric ones.
Yamini Chao/Getty Images

If you're in the market for a new stove and want to reduce your food-prep footprint, you might consider one that works by induction. Induction creates heat faster by magnetically accelerating metal molecules in steel, cast-iron and some stainless steel pots. Once you remove the pot from the eye, the stove also cools much faster [source: Schaub].

Because it conforms to those specific metals, an induction stove transfers 90 percent of its heat to a pot [source: McGee]. On the other hand, a gas burner transfers just 35 to 40 percent of its heat to the pan on top of it, and an electric one delivers 70 percent [source: McGee]. Just beware that the price tag could deter you. Induction stovetops run between $700 and $1,300 for an average model [source: Induction Cooking]. Standard gas and electric models hover just above $300.

When it comes to energy waste, the way you cook could have more to do with it than the stove that supplies it. For instance, when two people make the same meal, it's possible for one to use twice the energy doing so [source: Cureton and Reed]. The simple act of covering a pot of water will bring it to a boil in half the time it takes uncovered [source: McGee].

The pots and pans you select also make a difference in cooking time. To maximize the heat transmission on electric stoves, find flat-bottomed pans that make full contact with the eyes [source: Cureton and Reed]. Regularly clean the grease catchers under your burners since the shiny surface reflects heat and reduces cooking time. Also, size matters on the stove and in the oven. Only pull out the Dutch ovens and stew pots when preparing large amounts of food.

Other cooking appliances can cut down on cost and energy as well. Microwaving is one of the cheapest and most energy-efficient cooking methods, using two-thirds less power than electric ovens [source: Cureton and Reed]. But since microwaves are more suitable to reheating rather than cooking, try out a toaster oven for baking small dishes.

For smaller meals or reheating, try a toaster oven or microwave.
Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images

For more ideas about cooking and turning your house into an eco-haven, visit the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. "Efficient Cooking." Updated August 2007. (May 28, 2008)http://www.aceee.org/consumerguide/cooking.htm
  • Buildings Energy Data Book. "Residential Sector Expenditures." US Department of Energy. September 2007. (May 28, 2008)http://buildingsdatabook.eere.energy.gov/docs/4.2.1.pdf
  • Cureton, Maureen and Reed, David. "Home Energy Brief -- Cooking Appliances and Dishwashers." Rocky Mountain Institute. 1995. (May 28, 2008)http://www.p2pays.org/ref/32/31144.pdf
  • Energy Information Administration. "US Household Electricity Report." US Department of Energy. July 14, 2005. (May 28, 2008)http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/reps/enduse/er01_us.html
  • McGee, Harold. "The Invisible Ingredient in Every Kitchen." The New York Times. Jan. 2, 2008. (May 28, 2008)http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/02/dining/02curi.html
  • TreeHugger. "How to Green Your Kitchen." Feb. 15, 2008. (May 28, 2008)http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/02/how-to-green-your-kitchen.php