Recently, there has been a lot of controversy in the US surrounding the potential hazardous implications of gas stoves in the kitchen. The matter has caused a serious divide among US lawmakers, with some even calling for outright banning gas stoves. We review some of the recent statistics on the matter and display the potential benefits of switching to electric stoves instead.
Are Gas Stoves Dangerous?
Time spent cooking is one the hallmarks of humanity and its history. Gas stoves have been as prevalent in American culture as apple pie and baseball. There is almost a quintessential feel of having an American family prepare a meal in the kitchen on lit stoves, especially in the decades prior. In today’s day and age, it will be hard pressed to find a kitchen without any kind of stove. Gas stoves heat up quickly, natural gas is typically cheaper than electricity, and generally do not require any specific installation or venting (unlike electric stoves). Gas stoves are the most prevalent, as they do not require any specific installation and are generally cheaper than electricity.
In the US for 2022 about 51.5% of households used natural gas for their primary home heating fuel. In terms of cooking, it is estimated that 49% of American households used natural gas stovetops in 2022. Four states – New Jersey, California, Illinois, and New York – have approximately 60 to 70% of homes cook with gas.
Despite the convenience associated with gas stoves, there is a cost and price to that convenience. Gas stoves can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, which can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, confusion, and breathing difficulties.
Most recently, a December study in 2022 found that 12.7% of childhood asthma cases in the US can be attributed to gas stove use. They also pose a risk of fire and explosion, especially if not properly maintained. Additionally, gas stoves can create hazardous levels of indoor air pollution if used without proper ventilation.
The key element here is to introduce electric induction stoves, which are regarded as the highest capacity albeit most expensive forms of electric stoves.
5 Benefits of Electric Stoves
The benefits of electric stoves are very apparent:
1. Energy efficiency: Electric stoves are more energy efficient than gas stoves.
2. Temperature control: Electric stoves provide more precise temperature control.
3. Safety: Electric stoves are safer as there is no risk of gas leaks or fires.
4. Easy to clean: Electric stovetops are usually smoother and easier to clean than gas stovetops.
5. Quieter operation: Electric stoves are quieter to operate than gas stoves.
Most importantly, the risks associated with carbon monoxide poisoning, especially in children, are mitigated.
“The most surefire way to eliminate risk of childhood asthma from gas stoves is to move to a clean cooking alternative like an induction stovetop or electric stovetop,” said Taylor Gruenwald, research associate at non-profit Rewiring America.
The cost of high-quality electricity stove seems to be the main barrier for mass adoption but fortunately, policy initiatives are propping up to address it. Groups such as the Global Cooksafe Coalition said that they would promote stove induction as the safer and superior alternative to gas. Electric stoves accessibility can be expanded on by providing rebates and other incentives for making the switch to electric. Many local governments, energy providers, and utility companies may offer financial incentives for energy efficiency upgrades, including switching to an electric stove.
If feasible and accessible, the Inflation Reduction Act provides rebates of up to US$840 for purchasing new electric appliances, including stoves and cooktops (eligibility varies by state and income level). Providing education and information on the benefits of electric stoves (such as safety, convenience, and energy savings) may encourage people to switch. Finally, public-private partnerships can be used to create programs that make electric stoves more accessible, such as leasing or rental options.
As of now, there is no official regulation on the national level for implanting more electric stoves. There has been no widespread ban mandate from the White House, but is in a process of further collection input on the matter. Federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), say they are paying attention to the gas stove pollution issue. But none has moved to regulate potentially harmful emissions, a point the gas industry emphasises to dismiss concerns about possible health effects of stoves.
It is not just in households where electric stoves have become more popular but also among many chefs in the US. Top tier chefs such as Tu David Phu with deep experience in the fine dining scene is adamant that kitchen electrification doesn’t only concern the privileged. On top of that, “decarbonisation as a whole, not just electrification, is a justice issue”, Phu said. Regardless, stoves will remain an integral part of society and the kitchen dynamics.
Restaurants implementing it at scale in their cooking technique is an important indicator of the potential future transition. However, the key threshold to adoption will remain mitigating costs to input more electric stove in family homes. Government initiatives and tax rebates can speed up the process, as well as the general improvements in green technology for the US.
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