By Jenevra Wetmore
Most of us think of either gas or electric options when we consider buying a cook stove for our home, however there is a third option quickly growing in popularity: induction stoves. Induction technology runs off electricity but is not the same as a typical electric stove, which uses a heating element. Instead, induction stoves use electromagnetism to heat cookware, which then heats the food. An induction stove boils water in less than half the time of a traditional stove, has a safer cooktop surface, and is more efficient than other options. With new rebates becoming available soon, now is the time to consider an upgrade, especially if you currently use a gas stove.
Induction stoves are more efficient than both traditional electric stoves and gas stoves. Typical electric resistance stoves are 75%-80% efficient, and gas stoves have a shockingly low efficiency of roughly 32%. Gas stoves are so inefficient because much of the energy created by the flame is not being transferred to your food. Induction cooktops are the most efficient of any option at 85%. This high efficiency is because heat is transferred directly to cookware using electromagnetic energy, which is the same type of energy used by microwaves, cell phones, and AM and FM radio. The heat is generated by electricity running through a copper coil underneath the cooking surface. When a compatible pan is placed over the copper coil, the pan heats up.
All electric stoves are safer than gas stoves. Gas stoves are widely known to produce carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen Dioxide irritates the lungs and is linked to childhood asthma. In fact, children living in households that use gas stoves for cooking are 42% more likely to have asthma. An even more upsetting truth is that gas stoves leak even when turned off– all 53 gas stoves in a Stanford study leaked methane, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, even when turned off. Proper kitchen ventilation helps this problem but cannot solve it. In addition to air quality concerns, induction stove tops are safer than gas or traditional electric stoves because the cooktop surface stays cool to the touch until a pan is placed on it, and the rest of the surface of the stove will not heat up when one burner is being used. This reduces the safety risks posed by hot electric stovetops or open flame.
If you are interested in getting an induction stove, Green Mountain Power currently offers a $200 rebate when you install an induction cooktop or range. However, incentives will grow much larger very soon because of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Low-income families will be able to access Electrification Rebates covering 100 percent of electric/induction stove costs up to $840. Moderate income households will have 50% of the cost covered. Visit www.rewiringamerica.org to learn more about these incentives and others. The power to implement these rebates now lies with the state of Vermont, which will be rolling out programs through Efficiency Vermont: www.efficiencyvermont.com.
If you aren’t ready to buy a whole new stove or are just curious about induction, you can also purchase a single plug-in induction burner for a little over $100. Wirecutter, a New York Times site that independently reviews products, has recommendations for portable induction cooktops. I followed their recommendation a month ago and purchased a plug-in burner, which I now use religiously to make tea in the morning and any other one-pot meals. I have a gas stove, so using this induction burner is reducing the amount of chemicals I am exposed to in my home. Additionally, I am lowering my use of fossil fuels. This is no small thing–gas stoves in the US emit over 25 million tons of carbon pollution a year, or the equivalent of 500,000 cars. In my opinion, the only downside to using induction burners is that only magnetic pots and pans work, not aluminum, ceramic or copper. You can easily test this by seeing if a fridge magnet will stick to your pot or pan. Considering the benefits, this small inconvenience is worth avoiding the pollution, emissions, and inefficiency of a gas stove.