One of the key actions in Montgomery County’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) is to require newly constructed buildings to be all-electric and to electrify all new and existing buildings by 2035. In 2018, 50% of the county’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions came from buildings, with the majority coming from processes using electricity and natural gas. Building emissions are primarily generated by using electricity for cooling, lighting, and appliances, and by using fossil fuels such as natural gas for space heating, water heating, and cooking.
As a resident of Montgomery County, one of the ways you can reduce your home’s environmental footprint and contributing towards the county’s climate goals is by switching to induction cooking in your kitchen. Induction cooking offers many environmental advantages compared to a traditional natural gas range and efficiency advantages compared to an electric cooktop. While induction cooktops are often equated with lower-performing electric cooktops, the two technologies differ drastically.
Read on to find out more about:
Induction refers to a specific method for generating heat. A traditional electric stove uses a burner and radiant heat to cook your food. An induction cooking stove or range uses electromagnetism to cook food inside the pot or pan. With induction, there is an electromagnetic reaction between the burner and the pot or pan. Under the ceramic glass surface of the cooktop lies a coil of copper; when you turn on the power, an electric current flows through the coil and produces an invisible magnetic field. This magnetic field causes the iron molecules in your cookware to generate heat. The heated metal pan then conducts heat to the food or water inside, all while the ceramic glass surface of the induction stove remains cool. Without a pot on the induction burner, no heat will be generated. Induction essentially cuts out the intermediate step of heating a burner and then transferring that heat to your pot or pan.
Induction range: These ranges are four to six-element cooktops, usually paired with an electric convection oven. This type of induction cooking requires a 240-volt outlet, with prices ranging from under $900 to over $3,000.
Induction Cooktops: These have four to five-element cooktops installed on a kitchen countertop independent of an oven. Induction cooktops also require a 240-volt outlet or can be hardwired into the electrical system. Prices generally range from $500 to $2,000.
Portables: Portables are generally one to two-element units that can be set on a countertop anywhere and plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet. While they do not have the same power to heat as fast as induction ranges and cooktops, they still provide rapid heating with the same environmental benefits. Prices range from $50 to $500 for commercial-grade portable cooktops.
Electric cooking is slightly more like induction cooking than gas, but there are still many distinctions between induction stoves vs. electric. Unlike gas, most induction or electric ranges do not require any particular kind of hookup beyond a 220-240v outlet. However, induction does give a chef more direct control over the heat level than electric; when a pan is being used for induction cooking, its temperature changes the moment the current is adjusted. This is not the case for electricity, as it takes time for the pan to catch up with the temperature of the heat source.
While electric is certainly more energy-efficient than gas, induction is still the clear winner for efficiency. Stovetop or cooktop electric cooking allows only 65-70% of heat to reach food as opposed to induction’s 90%. This results in your kitchen staying cooler with induction than it does with electric cooking. While fire risk is lower with electric than with gas, the risk is still lower with induction. Since the pan is the only heat source in induction cooking, your risk of kitchen burns is also significantly decreased.
A significant difference between a gas and induction stovetop is that induction is significantly more efficient than gas – food being cooked with induction will receive 90% of the heat generated instead of only 40 to 55% for gas. This keeps your kitchen much cooler and more comfortable while you prepare meals. Induction cooking also decreases the risk of burns and accidental fires, as there is no open flame and the cookware itself is the only heat source.
|Induction Stoves||Electric Stoves||Gas Stoves|
They are safe as the heating element emits no radiant heat except through appropriate metals, but transient heat will still culminate around the cooking area. The residual heat is little to none and will dissipate quickly (though it is never recommended to place your hands, limbs, or bodily parts near any heat-generating source).
Same as its traditional electric counterpart, induction elements produce no heat at all unless through the transference of magnetic metals, so they are exceptional at maintaining a cooler room temperature
No Wasted Heat
Induction cooking wastes no heat and will operate more economically even compared to traditional electric heating elements
Pollutant Free/ Climate Friendly
Induction stoves do not emit any toxic gases into your house. Induction stoves use clean electricity and emit far less CO2 emissions than a gas-powered stove
|Easy to Clean
The convenience of a smooth top electric range/cooktop is easy to clean with no indents or crevices present.
Electric heating elements do not generate much ambient heat and will maintain a cooler kitchen.
Electric ranges/cooktops are also considerably less expensive compared to gas counterparts
Gas ranges/cooktops will work in the event of an electrical outage by using a match or lighter to ignite the gas flow
Gas output is a little more precise in control as the flame output is quickly and easily adjusted in real-time
Gas heat is immediate and powerful from the ignition, but electricity tends to heat food faster in comparison in some cases
|Cons||Depends on Electricity
Like an electric range, induction also relies on electricity to work. If there is no electricity being supplied to your home, induction ranges/cooktops will not work.
Induction ranges and cooktops are typically a little more expensive to purchase compared to the other options.
Requires Conductive Cookware
Induction cooking requires appropriate cookware, typically anything containing iron. It will not work on anything else, including aluminum, glass, or copper.
|Depends on Electricity
In the event of an electrical outage, electric ranges/cooktops will not work.
Retains Heat after Shutoff
Electric elements can get hot and will retain high heat levels even after they are turned off. They cannot cool down as quickly as gas burners.
Easy to Damage
Although a smooth top electric range/cooktop is easier to clean, it requires routine maintenance. Smooth tops are susceptible to scratches, and ceramic can crack if cold water touches it while hot.
|Hard to Clean
Cleaning requires a bit more effort as there are grooves and crevices around the burners. Including the removal of burner grates, cleaning can be an ordeal.
Gas hookup ranges/cooktops emit much radiant heat and will emanate throughout the kitchen, which could be uncomfortable for small kitchens.
Gas operational costs are more expensive as a fuel source compared to electricity. Especially true if the gas range is a pilot light model, which requires a constant gas flow.
Emissions and Pollution
Gas stoves are a significant source of indoor air pollution, emitting nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO) into your home, all of which can have adverse health effects and exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma
What’s not to like about induction cooking? Induction offers a safer, faster, more efficient, and climate-friendly way to cook your food than electric and gas-powered cooking. Switching to induction cooking is a great way to lower levels of harmful pollutants in your home, lower your carbon footprint, and contribute towards fighting climate change.
For more ideas on making sustainable choices in your home that are good for the climate, visit My Green Montgomery’s Projects & Incentives page.
Written by Matthew Stovall and Cheng Guo, Montgomery County Climate Planning Team Interns, Summer 2021.