Induction stoves are an affordable and easy way to reduce your reliance on climate change-causing fossil fuels and dangerous indoor air pollution.
If you use a gas stove at home or grew up making your favorite meals on the gas-powered appliance, the click, click of the ignition, and the final whoosh as the flame catches may be soothing sounds, even nostalgic. It’s an experience many people are familiar with. According to the most recent data from the American Housing Survey, more than half of all Americans use gas stoves for cooking. And 98 percent of chefs prefer gas stoves for cooking. But this popular range isn’t the cooking miracle it’s made out to be.
Gas stoves rely on natural gas, a nonrenewable energy source found deep under the Earth’s surface. Although it’s a cleaner alternative to coal, natural gas still emits large amounts of toxic methane — about 29 percent of total U.S. methane emissions. Methane, another greenhouse gas, doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon but heats the planet much faster. Aside from the harmful environmental impact, gas stoves emit significant levels of nitrogen oxides, a pollutant that worsens indoor air quality and can even cause major health issues, including increased risk of heart and respiratory disease, along with childhood asthma.
Read more: Why We Have to Curb Methane Emissions Now
Luckily, the solution is simple: switching to an induction stove. The environmentally friendly alternative relies on electromagnetic coils heated by electricity and converts approximately 85 percent of that electricity to heat, raising the temperature of the stove’s burners in seconds. As a result, it’s more energy-efficient than a gas stove — standard gas stoves typically convert as little as 32 percent of gas to heat — it eliminates exposure to nitrogen oxides from cooking, and it’s the most efficient way to lower individual carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. In 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded residential induction cooking tops with the ENERGY STAR Emerging Technology Award, citing their success in reducing energy use and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
For chef Christopher Galarza, who began cooking at local restaurants in Pittsburgh at the age of 16, sustainable cooking is essential to being a chef in the 21st century. Galarza, who has apprenticed at five-star eateries such as the Greenbrier and Monterey Bay Fish Grotto, is a vocal advocate for induction stoves. His company, Forward Dining Solutions, specializes in sustainable culinary consulting, and over the years, he’s worked with handfuls of cooks interested in making more sustainable choices, like swapping gas stoves for induction versions.
“There are a lot of people who just don’t believe in induction stoves. The natural reaction to change is to push back,” says Galarza. “Many people have always cooked on gas stoves, and that’s the way their grandparents and great-grandparents also cooked. Plenty of home cooks and chefs are concerned that switching to an induction stove might erase their identity or destroy their culture — cooking is a very spiritual thing. But I always say you can continue to cook these old dishes and connect with your ancestors while also being good stewards of the planet.”
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Around the country, city officials are on the same page as Galarza. Berkeley, San Francisco, and New York City introduced legislation to ban natural gas installations in new buildings in an effort to reduce local carbon footprints. In addition, 40 municipalities in California adopted all-electric building codes, two Massachusetts towns made a similar request to the state, and the mayor of Seattle enacted electrification requirements for new commercial and municipality buildings.
And in New York City, the nonprofit WE ACT for Environmental Justice recently replaced traditional gas stoves with induction stoves for 10 households living in an affordable housing complex in the Bronx. Soon, the building will become the first within the New York City Housing Authority unit to fully convert from gas to electric. The tenants expect to see significant improvement in indoor air quality.
As the number of sustainability minded consumers continues to grow, and with support from state and local lawmakers for innovations aimed at decarbonizing our energy systems, induction stoves are catching on, which is already causing a significant drop in prices for the once-expensive technology.
Still, convincing skeptical chefs and at-home cooks to make the switch has been difficult, says Galarza. Some express concern over the compatibility of certain cookware with induction stoves. Woks, for example, are round and sit awkwardly on the flat surface of induction stoves, causing the pan to heat unevenly. But companies like Cooktek — creator of a wok-friendly induction stove that holds and heats the wok evenly — hope to persuade the culinary community to reconsider their allegiance to gas stoves.
Influencers are joining the conversation, too. Rising TikTok foodie and chef Jon Kung recently partnered with climate group Mothers Out Front to talk about why he prefers induction stoves — for Kung, induction stoves minimize overheating and air pollution in the kitchen, keeping him and his cooking staff safe.
For individuals, making the switch from gas to induction stoves — and reducing your carbon emissions in the process — is as easy as speaking with a local electrician about installing a dedicated electrical circuit. Portable induction cooktops are also an affordable option and can be plugged in and stored right on your kitchen counter. The key to combatting climate change is rethinking long-held beliefs — like that gas stoves are the best stove for serious cooks — and embracing innovations that are better for the environment and our personal health.
Read more: Why You Should Switch to a Heat Pump
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