This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) brought out a plethora of neato smart kitchen appliances, glowing with touchscreens, buzzing with WI-FI, and teasing with the promise the even the most hapless beginning chef could whip up a soufflé and still save energy and money.
The truth is that your kitchen energy saving appliance options are actually pretty limited. That’s because currently only refrigerators and dishwashers can qualify to be Energy Star rated.
Kitchen Energy Efficiency — What’s Cooking?
There is no Energy Star rating for residential ovens, ranges, microwave ovens, or even coffee makers. One reason is that residential cooking accounts for just 2% of an average home’s energy use. On a $200 monthly electric bill, cooking makes up just $4.00. Compare that with dish washing (water heating) and refrigerators, the amount going to cooking seems negligible.
However, the big reason lies in all the variations of energy consumption that comes with cooking itself. There’s the quality and type of cookware you use determines the rate of heat transfer from the heat source to the food. There’s also the food which effects amount of time (and thus, energy) it takes to cook. While it has been pointed out that water boiled on a stove top actually takes 25% less energy than a microwave, it’s not the same stuff as a bowel of frozen vegetables or a serving of lasagna or a few strips of tasty bacon.
So, this makes shopping for things like stoves, microwaves, and coffee makers a lot harder particularly because no particular model of cooking appliance is reliably anymore energy efficient over a comparable model. However, the heating technology the cooking appliance uses does matter. Read on to see energy efficiency tips to minimize your electricity use with the following kitchen appliances:
- Stoves and ovens
- Coffee Makers
Microwave ovens use less energy than all conventional ovens or stoves. A rough comparison of appliances suggests that using an oven for one hour every day for thirty days cost $4.80 while a microwave costs just 90¢. This is because microwave ovens use short wave-length electromagnetic waves at high frequency (about 2.45 Ghz) to induce water molecules to vibrate. Vibrating molecules get hot. Put a bowel full of frozen peas into a microwave oven and the water in the peas will vibrate, heat up into steam, and cook the peas. A microwaves’ energy usage depends on its wattage and the length of time it’s used to cook something. Consequently, there’s not much difference in energy efficiency between two comparably-sized microwaves.
Stoves, cook tops, ranges and ovens
For the most part, selecting a cooking range depends on your cooking preferences and your budget. While comparing similar types of stoves head to head doesn’t show any reliable difference in energy efficiency, the real energy efficiency again lies in the efficiency of the heating technology it uses.
- Smooth radiant or heating coil cooks tops ($300 to $2500 ) work best with smooth, flat-bottom cookware like steel or aluminum pans. Cast iron and some glass or ceramic cookware can scratch glass cook tops.
- Induction cooktops ($1200 to $4000) electromagnetically heat the cookware. They heat up quickly and use less energy. Consequently, you need to have steel or iron-based cookware.
- Recent research shows that while conventional electric cook tops are generally more efficient (83%) in transferring energy to food than induction cooking ( 77%), conventional cook top efficiency depends heavily on the size of the pot. Induction cooking remains highly efficient no matter the size.
- Gas ranges ($300 to $6000) are available with heat ranges from 5,000 BTU to 12,000 or more but are not as efficient (around 42%) because the burning gas flame loses heat to ambient air. However, chefs can use practically any ceramic or metal cookware; stainless steel and cast iron being the most efficient.
There are three basic kinds of coffee makers commonly used in US homes: automatic drip coffee maker (ADC), the single server, and the more specialized espresso machine. ADC coffee makers use electric-resistance warming plates to heat water and keep the coffee pot warm. Most use between 750 to 1200 watts and shut down automatically after two hours. An average full sized ADC uses around 730 kWh annually, costing (assuming a rate of 12¢/kWh) $87.60 or $7.30 per month. Not a mammoth expense but noticeable.
Contrast that with a single serving brewer. These use a heating element that keeps the water hot until it’s needed. Left on all day, that can add an extra $5 in coffee maker energy use to your monthly bill or $60 annually. Much more noticeable.
As you can see, your cooking appliances’ energy efficiency heavily depends on your usage of them. Understanding your home’s energy use is essential to helping increase your energy efficiency, especially in the kitchen. That’s why all First Choice Power customers have access to their home’s energy usage online. Whether on the go, or at home, you can view how much energy your home is using 24/7! View our electricity plans today to become a First Choice Power and learn more about your home’s energy use and how you can become more energy efficient.