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Switching from gas to electric stove worth consideration

  • Jan 23, 2023
  • 109 views
Source: 
The Herald-Tribune

Federal regulators have raised concerns about air pollutants emitted by gas stoves. But what does that mean for the millions of homes that have one?

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission chair said Wednesday that the agency has no plans to ban gas stoves, days after a regulator said it was an option under consideration.

CPSC Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric added that the commission is researching emissions from gas stoves.

Some cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and New York, however, have banned gas appliances in certain new buildings. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed banning natural gas heating and appliances in the state to combat climate change.

For consumers, there are several reasons to consider switching to electric appliances, experts said, because gas stoves emit air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, and methane leaks could pose health risks.

"Switching from gas stoves to a more efficient electrical appliance is good for indoor air quality," said Jon Levy, chair the Department of Environmental Health at Boston University. "It's also good for climate change, and some of the newer technologies are even better for cooking."

Which stove is better:

Gas or electric?

The main difference between gas and electric stoves lies in how they're powered, said Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at NerdWallet.

"Gas ranges connect to a natural gas line or propane hookup," Palmer said in an email. "Electric ranges are plugged into a special outlet."

Electric stoves, in many cases, tend to perform better than gas, said Paul Hope, senior home editor at Consumer Reports. Induction stoves and cooktops, which use electromagnetic pulses to heat cookware, usually outperform their counterparts in Consumer Reports tests.

"Of the induction ranges in our rating," Hope said, "a full 90% actually get our top score for speed of heating, which is how quickly basically a stove can boil water."

Consumers who prefer gas will still be able to find good options, Hope said. Gas stoves, he said, offer more visual indicators than electric ones because the flame offers constant feedback.

But there are advantages in switching to electric, Hope said.

"The good news for anyone wanting to make the switch is it's generally far easier to switch from gas to electric than than the other way around," Hope said. "If you want to install a gas range and haven't had one before, you need to have new gas lines installed."

Consumers may also be eligible for a rebate when they purchase a new electric appliance, including stoves and cooktops. The Inflation Reduction Act includes rebates up to $840 for the purchase of electric appliances.

Is it cheaper to buy

a gas or electric stove?

Regular electric stoves and gas ones tend have comparable prices, Hope said. Consumers usually pay a slight premium for induction models.

When deciding whether to buy a gas or electric stove, startup costs are the main factor consumers should keep in mind. The biggest cost probably will be installing new hardware, such as a gas line or special outlet, if needed, meaning consumers can save money by using the existing energy source, Palmer said.

"In terms of the ongoing costs of gas and electricity, it can vary by location but tend to be somewhat similar, with gas costing slightly less than electricity," Palmer said.

Do gas stoves

cause respiratory problems?

Gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide when in use. Studies have shown the compound is a respiratory irritant that can trigger asthma attacks, Levy said.

"If you put the pieces together, it's pretty clear that having a gas stove in your home and using it is a risk factor for increased asthma attacks," Levy said. "There's strong and growing evidence that it's also a risk factor for developing asthma if you don't already have it."

A study in December 2022 found that 12% of childhood asthma cases in the U.S. could be attributed to the use of gas stoves.

Exposure to high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide over short periods can aggravate respiratory diseases and lead to hospital admissions and emergency room visits, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Should people

with a gas stove worry?

People who have gas stove in their home can take steps to reduce risks from indoor pollution. How much a gas stove contributes to air pollution depends in part on the ventilation in the home, Levy said.

"There are certainly plenty of folks who can't replace (their stove) because they're renters, or it's not economically viable or practical," Levy said. "The first thing you need to do is make sure that ventilation is optimized."

Home cooks can improve ventilation by running a a range hood that vents outdoors while they cook and opening windows in the kitchen, Levy said.

"As we set policies or give out guidance, we certainly need to think about who who are the highest-exposure households and what can we do to reduce their exposure the best way possible," Levy said.

Contributing: Jordan Mendoza

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