Evaluating the Best Options for Energy-Efficient Cooking


While cooking is not among the top five of your home's 'energy-hungry routines,' if it's something you do every day then there are many small steps, and a few big ones you can take to decrease its impact on your energy use. Your method of cooking is the root of how much energy you use, so to help you cook wisely, here is a rundown of some of the best options for sautéing sustainably:

Cook with Electricity

Photo by Tonya Olson

Whenever you read about options for energy efficient cooking, the question of gas versus electricity always comes up. The difference in energy use is actually pretty negligible, especially now that induction cooking is bringing electricity up to par with the speed of gas. This shift really does put electricity in front in the "green" stakes for the following reasons:

  • Natural gas is a fossil fuel, and while most electricity comes from coal-burning power plants, you can source sustainable electricity via solar panels.
  • Gas introduces air pollution in the form of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide into your home.
  • Cooking with gas produces a lot of ambient heat, often requiring the use of air conditioners, a huge energy user.

The best option for cooking with electricity is definitely induction, which is 84-percent efficient, compared to the 40-percent efficiency of gas. A ceramic glass cooktop, which uses halogen elements as a heat source, is a close second as both options deliver heat almost instantaneously, cutting back on wasted energy.

Choose Convection over Conventional

Convection ovens are more energy efficient than conventional ovens because the heated air is continuously circulated, so you can reduce cooking temperatures and times. It's estimated that a convection oven uses about 20 percent less energy than its conventional counterparts. Throw in a self-cleaning model, which has significantly more insulation, and you have a pretty efficient cooking machine—just don't use the self-cleaning feature too often.

Smaller Can Be Better

Using microwaves and toaster ovens, which are basically miniature regular ovens, can reduce energy use by as much as 80 percent. These are great options for reheating and cooking small portions. While microwaves and toaster ovens do use a lot of energy when working, because they slice cooking times to smithereens they are definitely the energy-efficient option when you can opt for one over firing up the oven. Slow cooking with crockpots is a great way to cook energy-efficiently. Once the crockpot is brought to temperature, its insulation can keep it hot for up to 6 hours while drawing only minimal additional energy. On the other end of the spectrum, pressure cookers cook faster courtesy of steam pressure and a sealed pot, meaning you can cook your beans in less than half the time you would in a standard pot.

1/22/2021 3:39:50 PM

Coal is no longer King! The article states that, "Natural gas is a fossil fuel, and while most electricity comes from coal-burning power plants, you can source sustainable electricity via solar panels." In fact, coal has not been the dominant fuel source for electricity generation in the U.S. as a whole for many years. Its use has been falling rapidly over the past 10-15 years, due mostly to the rise in natural gas (thanks to the hydrofracking boom) and the steady rise of renewables (mostly wind and solar). I recommend readers consult the Energy Information Administration (www.eia.gov), an agency of the Department of Energy, where vast amounts of info and data are available to the public for review.

10/10/2017 1:18:55 PM

Solar ovens work great in Florida as long as it is made of materials that stand up to humidity. I got s homemade cardboard model up to temperature, but it soon got soggy and collapsed.

10/9/2017 9:09:47 PM

There's one problem I've found with ceramic or glass cooktops - they can't take the heat generated during canning. At least that's what every one listed in their instructions when I was looking for a stove a couple of years ago. I settled on an off-the-grid propane stove. In the winter, it provides extra heat since I tend to cook a lot more and I usually have meat to can then. In summer, I simply do only one or two canners full a day to reduce the heat. I also cook one large meal every two or three days, using leftovers in between, to keep the stove heat down in summer.

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