Gas cooking may be cooling off. As the world faces the need to cut down on the use of fossil fuels, the movement to limit natural gas usage has already begun in states like California, Massachusetts and Washington. In July 2019, Berkeley, California became the first city in the United States to pass an ordinance placing a ban on gas cooking in new buildings, and it’s likely to soon be followed by other similar bans.1
The fact is, gas stoves are not only a source of pollution, they may also be a danger to your health, as we’ll explain. But the story can have a happy ending after making the switch from gas to electric or induction cooking, even for loyal keepers of the blue flame.
A little background: Gas cooking has been popular in Europe and the United States since the late 1880s, when large towns and cities started piping natural gas into homes and restaurants. The Chinese were drilling for natural gas 2,300 years earlier; they also transported natural gas using hollow bamboo pipes. This inexpensive and easily transported source of cooking energy made sense before we realized what burning fossil fuels is doing to the environment. 2
We know that natural gas produces less fossil-based carbon dioxide (CO2 ) than coal, a source of electricity, for the same amount of energy. CO2 is the standard for measuring pollution.
But natural gas, unlike coal, can leak methane (CH4) into the air, which is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2 and the second most important contributor to climate change. 3
- The Environmental Defense Fund states that methane gas has 84 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.4
- Unburned gas leaking from pipes and compressor stations harms the climate more than carbon dioxide, the byproduct of burned fossil fuels.
- The fracking process used to produce gas for a stove poses a threat to water quality, public health and the environment. 5
A Washington Post article by Juliet Eilperin and Brady Davis on August 29, 2019 states: “Scientists have projected that the world needs to cut its overall greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half by mid-century to avert catastrophic effects from global warming.”6
Can a one-home ban on gas cooking impact the environment? Going green in small ways may not have the same effect as a civic mandate, but it helps. Making the switch probably depends on whether you’re ready to remodel your kitchen, you need a new stove, or you’re building a new home.
In addition to promoting a healthier climate, other methods of cooking, including glass-ceramic cooktops, are worth investigating in terms of cooking performance, safety and environmental friendliness.
Saving the planet is a good reason to make changes, but did you know that switching from gas cooking can also improve your family’s health? 7
- Gas stoves produce more indoor pollution than an electric hob. 8
- There is increasing scientific evidence that gas burners produce nitrogen dioxide (a respiratory irritant), as well as small amounts of carbon monoxide.
- Scientists have linked gas stoves to asthma attacks and hospitalizations. 9
Proper ventilation from a powerful exhaust hood or outdoor air circulation in the kitchen certainly helps, but it’s nearly impossible to prevent particles from escaping from a gas burner.
Ready to make the switch? Check into any state and local incentive programs that can help defray costs and talk to a reliable contractor or appliance seller about replacing your gas stove.
Do your homework about the advantages of a gas stove vs. induction cooktop. Induction cooking is faster than gas and more energy efficient because the heat goes into the pan, not the hob itself.
- Energy-efficient: Induction cooking release less heat into the kitchen air, compared to a gas or electric stovetop. This cuts down on the need to use energy from an exhaust fan or air conditioning.
- Safer: The surface of a glass-ceramic induction cooking hob also stays cool to the touch, which offers an added safety feature.
- Ease of cleaning: The glass-ceramic surface, when coupled with induction technology makes cleaning easy.