Designing Green with Robin Baron - Cooking up a Storm! by Guest Blogger, November 17 2010, 1 Comment

Photo courtesy of bosch_appliances via Flickr.

It’s our kitchens' busiest time of the year…the holidays! It’s the season of cookies, turkey, and all of your family’s holiday favorites. Amongst the chaos of entertaining, your energy usage racks up faster than your gift list! People always ask me whether gas or electric is better for cooking or baking and what is more energy efficient. Truth is, there are pros and cons to both and great energy efficient options for whatever your preference may be.

Gas vs Electric

Many cooks prefer gas ranges for their ease while cooking because it allows them instant and full control of heat. For greener cooking, the key with gas stoves is models with an electric ignition, rather than a stove that burns continuously through a pilot light. This alone will save 30 percent more energy.

For ovens, any baker worth their salt prefers electric due to the precise temperature control. This also makes them more energy efficient than their gas counterparts. Also, choosing an oven with a self cleaning option will have better insulation and therefore maintain temperature more responsibly. The Amana AGR is a great option for a stove with a gas cooktop as it also allows for three different energy levels of self cleaning—the more specific you can be with your needs, the less energy is wasted. This GE Free Standing Gas Range is also a great choice, since it includes a warming drawer, so you don’t have to waste valuable energy reheating dishes.

Electric rangetops also allow for more modern design than their gas competitors. And for clean-up, it’s as easy as wiping down your counter. Like this GE Double Oven Range, which also offers a unique option of two different sized ovens, one small and one large. This is a great energy efficient option if you choose to cook something smaller and only want to use the top oven to reduce energy waste. It also looks good at the same time.

My favorite electric choice, also the greenest, is induction cooktops. Innovations in this technology have greatly advanced and its popularity is on the rise. It works electromagnetically, creating heat only where your cookware touches the surface, so energy is only used where it’s needed. But, take heed… your cookware must be metal to work. The rule is that if a magnet won’t stick to the bottom of your pans, neither will this technology. Induction cooking uses 90 percent of the output energy opposed to 55 percent for gas burners and 65 percent for traditional electric ranges, still proving to be the best energy efficient option.
If I had to pick one reason why induction is my favorite, here it is: it heats up and changes temperature instantly just like gas ranges, but the surface never gets hot! You can run your range on high, place your hand on it and not be burned. The beauty of this, beyond obvious safety prayers answered, is that if you spill while cooking, you are not going to bake the food into the range. No relentless scrubbing later! A cult favorite is this Wolf Induction Cooktop, and its complement, the Wolf Double Oven E Series.

Both energy sources have their pros and cons; some are more concrete and some simply boil down to personal preference. As in life, everything is a compromise, so decide what your priorities are based on your needs and buy the products that make the most sense for you. Then, enjoy your holiday season with your family, friends and new kitchen star!

Guest Blogger: Robin Baron