Energy efficient cooking – gas or electric
Which kitchen appliances you should use in order to minimise greenhouse gas emissions is not as straightforward as you would expect. In fact, whether you should choose gas or electric depends completely on where you live and how your local power plant produces electricity.
As we can see in the below table (courtesy of etool.net.au), gas cooktops yield almost 8 times more greenhouse gas emissions compared to induction cooktops in Sweden, where renewable energy sources produce the bulk of the country’s total energy. In Australia, where coal burning is the major source of electrical energy, cooking with gas cooktops result in about one third of the emissions as cooking with an induction cooktop would yield, even if the transfer of energy is less effective.
At the same time, induction and gas delivers instant heat, while electric elements take longer time to heat up to the desired temperature, leading to further wastage of energy, meaning that cooking with a traditional electric element would result in even higher greenhouse gas emissions
When it comes to ovens, it is a similar story, with gas ovens in Sweden resulting in about 4 times higher levels of emissions when compared to an electric oven. In Australian states that rely heavily on coal burning, the use of gas oven result in up to one fifth of the emissions as an electric oven. It is no wonder that gas fitters in Australia have plenty of work on their hands.
General tips to save energy when cooking
Regardless of your choice of appliances, there are some steps we can all take to minimize energy usage when cooking.
Trap the heat
Putting a lid on the saucepans will trap the heat in the pan which would otherwise rise up and escape, which can halve the time involved in bringing water to a boil. And when it is first boiling or simmering, a lid on the saucepan will enable you to turn the heat down, saving even more energy. Also ensure that the oven seal is in a good condition and not letting unnecessary heat out, and minimise the amount of times you open the oven door to inspect the food.
Choose the right size saucepan or frying pan for the job. The bigger the saucepan is, the more energy is required to heat the contents. Choose as small as saucepan as you can for the job. Saucepans with flat bases will also have a better connection with the hot plates than a rounded base, meaning that less energy will be wasted.
Whether you are boiling, frying or roasting, overcooking meat and vegetables does not only reduce the satisfaction of the meal, it wastes energy. Cook your food just right and turn the heat off as soon as you can, and you will enjoy a better meal while saving energy. Consider purchasing a roasting thermometer for roasting meat, to easily check when the meat is cooked to your liking.
Microwaves use far less energy to cook or heat the food. However, microwaving as a cooking alternative results in less than satisfactorily results in most cases. Though microwaves are great for reheating purposes for some types and food, and also boiling rice.