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Gas vs. Electric vs. Induction--An Energy Calculator!

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I've been holding this back for awhile now, but apropos of the whole gas-vs-induction battle, perhaps now is the time to raise this. This little gizmo lets us plug in our local utility rates for gas and electric, along with our daily useage:

http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity....

Significant is the fact that stoveTOP electrical consumption amounts to only *one* percent of the average America household's electrical use. So if one modality is 50% more efficient, we're still looking at a tiny savings.

So knock yourselves out. Who's saving big bucks by not using gas?

Aloha,
Kaleo

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  1. Hey Kaleo,

    I'll venture a reply. People without a gas connection to their homes, and no easy way to get one, will save big money by sticking with electric, given the number of years it would take to recoup the costs of the (propane) equipment and the install.

    People like me who live in hot climates also save more with electricity. A more efficient cooktop means less heat in my kitchen, which means my AC doesn't have to work as hard. With our last electric bill over $400 that's no small savings.

    Switching to propane from my current cooktop would make it worse. Switching to induction will make it better. How much I can't say, but given that AC is the biggest part of our summer electric bill, I'll pass on the propane and embrace the magic. :)

    4 Replies
    1. re: DuffyH

      Why would you have to AC your kitchen? I was more interested in the energy cost of cooking. What's your calculation?

      1. re: kaleokahu

        I live in Tampa, FL. For 7 months of the year, daytime temps are 80º or higher. We get 4 months of 90º+ weather. It's warm here in the summer.

        My kitchen is in the center of the house, wide open to 3 other rooms. When I cook, it heats up the kitchen and the nearby rooms. There's an AC vent in the ceiling, dead center over my island. We have our AC set to come on at 80º (indoors) and still spend ~$200/mo. on AC in the summer.

        To me, efficiency matters.

        1. re: DuffyH

          Hi, Duffy:

          Efficiency is important to me, too.

          I haven't spent any time in Florida, but my time in D.C., nOLA, Hawai'i and elsewhere in Polynesia has convinced me of the wisdom of separate and/or outside cooking facilities. In such climates, a central, open kitchen that is not isolated from the living quarters can be a poor and expensive choice in hot weather. IME in such places, with outside and/or isolated, vented (even zoned) cooking spaces, it's almost never any hotter than the ambient temperature, and the AC'd spaces don't suffer. Seattle's had 40 days of >80F this year already, and I still cook up a storm on gas--I just close the kitchen door and open a door and window.

          If it's regularly too hot to go outside in the first place, my preference would be to look for a cooler place to live. Are patio misters a possibility for you? Or is Tampa buggy, too?

          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          1. re: kaleokahu

            Hey Kaleo,

            Looking for a cooler place to live is out of the question. I like the weather, like the area, love my floorplan and don't want to change a thing. I'm a happy camper.

            Tampa is hot, muggy and buggy, but bugs aren't a problem as our pool is caged (completely screened). I would rule out patio misters because of the humidity. They're more useful in dry climates, we're sub-tropical.

            We do grill quite a bit, despite the heat, but the backyard layout doesn't allow us to build an outdoor kitchen. Not if we want to dine there, too. Financially, it just makes much more sense to either keep my current radiant range, or go induction. Anything else involves major reno, either inside or outside. Funds don't allow that.

    2. Here's one more reason I'm sooooooooooo happy I use induction! A recent housekeeper (now gone, hooray!!!) ruined my non-stick omelet pan by scrubbing the coating raw. Oh well, I've wanted to try the Thermolon non-stick ceramic for a while but I didn't want to spend big bucks, so I got the cheapest Thermolon I could find. Stupid damned thing would NOT work on induction! BOOO! So before I took it back and sprung for a lot more expensive puppy, I thought I'd do a trial run with the Thermolon on my butane hotplate I normally reserve for tagines.

      Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

      After two years of cooking on induction, my hands have turned wimpy and the heat coming up around the pan while I was working the omelet was MISERABLY UNCOMFORTABLE!
      None of that happens with induction! It was like cave-man cooking technology! So I now openly confess, I am now a bona fide kitchen wimp! Completely spoiled by induction.

      Yes, I did take the used-once Thermalon coated cheapie pan back to Walmart and got a Henkel's "Zwilling" Thermalon omelet pan. For me it was a trade off... My arthritis greatly prefers the light weight cheapie, but it could not take the heat of the Henkel's! The returned fry pan said it was only safe up to --- I don't remember exactly -- something like 350F or whatever. Low enough that I knew I it would die at high oven temperatures. Turns out it was probably due to the handle or whatever, because the Henkel's Thermolon is guaranteed safe to use at temperatures up to 850F...!!! How about them apples!

      As for how expensive it is to invest in induction, I am FAR more interested in keeping my utility bills down for the long term because I have never known utility prices to significantly decrease in the short OR long term! Considering the way utilities have gone up over the last twenty years (the duration of most home mortgages), by the time the mortgage is paid off, I suspect that the investment in an induction cooktop when the mortgage is new will more than have paid for itself in saved utilities at the end of the inflation spiral of 20 years! And maybe even "then some!"

      The article in the link you offer, Kaleo, talks about how cheap gas is compared to electricity. The efficiency of induction that runs on electricity is cheaper to cook on than gas (it is that efficient!), it increases your property value by at least making the kitchen a big selling point, and you never feel like you're about to go up in flames like you do when you're stirring an omelet over a gas burner!!! What could be better than that???? Kaleo, have you taken the dive into induction yet??????????? '-)

      4 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1

        Hi, Car: " Kaleo, have you taken the dive into induction yet??????????? '-)"

        Yes, I bought an Aroma hotplate unit. Meh.

        I'm glad you weighed in here, Car, because from many of your prior posts, I can tell that your electricity rates are pretty high. It'd be really interesting for you to use this calculator, inputting both your gas and electrical rates and your useage, and let us know what you come up with in terms of comparative cost.

        As for an induction stove increasing your property value over gas, I'm not sure a clear majority of buyers would agree. And we may find that the current models of induction appliances go over like the fabled avacado or goldenrod refrigerators in 10 years' time. We won't know until then, but what we *do* know is that current models will be outdated and will have been discontinued, just like the computers they have come to resemble.

        Aloha,
        Kaleo

        1. re: kaleokahu

          My house has no gas connection. When I moved here, I called the city and asked what the fee would be to bring in a connection from the nearest gas line... $70,000.00 was the answer! PASS...!!!

          The electrical service in this area is the weirdest I've ever had in all of my life, and the power failures and power SURGES when the power is restored is an 8 year long nightmare. Ah, well, this IS Tornado Alley! The weird thing is that you CANNOT buy your electricity from the company that supplies it. Oncore Electric owns all of the power lines, the meters on houses, and does the maintenance, but you have to buy your electricity from any of many other electric vendors in the area, and the rates vary from vendor to vendor and plan to plan. Can we say "STUPID?" The one that cracks me up is the one that advertises that if you buy your electricity through them, you will be buying "green" wind generated electricity! I still haven't figured out how they can send just wind generated electricity to my house and not the house next door if I buy through them. Can we say "credibility gap?"

          Long story short, I don't bother figuring out how much I pay per kilowatt hour, but I do know I have the best rate possible. I THINK it's something like $0.094 per kwh. What I can tell you is that the first month I used induction exclusively for stove top cooking, my electric bill dropped a whopping $27,00 to $30.00 a month. I also have primarily LED lighting with a few CFLs still around. My electric bill used to run $400.00+ in the summer and around $280 in the winter, and I think I was paying a penny or two more per kwh. Now my bill runs around $165 in the winter and it can hit $200 or more in the summer when we hit those streaks of 100F+ days that seem to go on forever.

          The greatest drawback in induction today is the number of individual heat settings you get from any given brand. There currently is no standard, and that makes shopping for induction a deep exercise in "caveat emptor!" The greater the gap between the preset temperatures, the more difficult it is to get the smooth transition and degree of adjustment of the heat your pots and pans will produce. I've seen some VERY pricey induction cooktops that only have 9 presets. The highest number I've seen to date is from GE, and they offer 19, which I believe is the highest in the industry, or at least highest in for-the-home brands. I can't afford commercial brands, so I don't shop there!

          The other thing to look for is how much current each individual hob will pull because that also determines how hot and fast they will be. In portable single unit counter top hobs, they run from 1300 Watts to 1800 Watts. Full cooktops have hobs where 1800 is the slowest hob and it varies with what the largest/hottest hobs pull, depending on the manufacturer. So whether you're shopping for a portable single counter top unit or a full four or six hob cooktop, pay close attention to the number of preset heats available AND the wattage of each hob. The more of each of these, the more control you will have when you cook.

          As for the future, there is some possibility that all-metal induction will eventually reach the U.S., which allows the use of non-ferrous metals such as aluminum and copper, but that's probably years away. Japan has the market tied up right now and is extremely diligent about seeing that it is NOT taken out of Japan. The U.S. & Europe are introducing "full surface" induction in which you can move your pan around on the cooktop and the magnetic field will follow it and remember your settings. However, it will not allow you to use more pans than there are control devices, so if you buy a "four burner" cook to, you'll only be able to rearrange where four pans are, BUT it will adjust to a greater variety of shapes and sizes. I've never used one, but I sure like the idea! Imagine! A two burner griddle or grill that gets as hot in the middle as it does on the ends! I'm there! '-)

          1. re: Caroline1

            Hi, Car:

            Oh, I totally understand that if you don't have the infrastructure for gas right up to your stove, the cost of extending it to your hobs can be exorbitant.

            But I presume that someone in your corner of TX has a gas connection and is using it. What rate do *they* pay by Therm for gas, compared to your 0.094 per Kw/H?

            I noted on the calculator site that there is a huge cost difference between the cost of pilot-light gas appliances and piezio sparker ones. It must be analogous to having a slow plumbing leak...

            Re: the "full surface" induction units... You need to visualize the # and shape of the coils under the glass. Just like always...

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            1. re: kaleokahu

              I have NO idea where the nearest neighbor lives who uses gas for cooking, but my guess is at least a mile or two and I don't know them. if you're really curious you can probably find the information by wading through this website:
              http://www.plano.gov/

              I've seen the underside of one full surface induction cook top and it's a checkerboard-like array of fairly tightly spaced induction coils that are smaller in diameter than those of a standard induction hob. I'd say the individual coils looked to be about three to four inches in diameter. I don't know if that's the standard array for all full surface induction manufacturers or only the one I looked at. I no longer recall the brand name.