Your Induction Stove Is the First Step Toward Plugging In the Whole House

The Four Percent


Of all the energy hogs in Joseph Mulvaney’s home, his gas range was not the biggest offender. But earlier this month, he replaced it with an induction one anyway.

Mr. Mulvaney’s century-old three-bedroom house in Huntington, N.Y., on Long Island, is heated with a natural gas-fired boiler. So is his hot water. Those two items account for the overwhelming majority of the energy his home consumes. So if he really wanted to wean himself off fossil fuels and switch to a cleaner energy source, he would need to change how he heats his house. He buys into a solar community program, and considered adding a geothermal heating and cooling system, but was told it would cost $50,000.

Instead, he replaced his stove, a decision that made the smallest dent in his carbon footprint but may actually be one of the hardest hurdles to clear. It’s psychological. Who really cares about what kind of furnace they have? But anyone who likes to cook probably has a strong opinion about their stove. And electric stoves have a terrible reputation, evoking images of awkward coils that take forever to heat or cool and usually burn your food.

“I’ve always had gas everywhere I’ve ever lived, and same with my wife. That was the natural choice,” said Mr. Mulvaney, 41, a software engineer.

“If I’m looking at an advertisement, I understand what it means to be cooking with gas because I do that out of enjoyment, I do that with my family,” said Richard Meyer, vice president of energy markets, analysis and standards for the American Gas Association, an industry trade group. Unlike installing a new furnace, turning on the stove “is a tangible, interactive and positive experience, and that’s a good thing.”

However, it turns out that having a combustible heat source with an open flame in your kitchen might not be such a good thing — and emphasizing that point may be what eventually persuades consumers to give up the fossil fuel. In January, Stanford University researchers published a study that found that gas ranges leak methane even when they’re off. And while we cook, concentrations of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide can exceed national air-quality standards, according to a 2020 report by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Nitrogen dioxide is linked to increased rates of asthma in children.

“Indoor air quality is something that people are more focused on than I’ve ever seen before,” said Kelly Dougherty, president of FirstService Energy, the sustainability group for FirstService Residential, a property management company. “As we think about where we live and where we work, indoor air quality is becoming more and more important to us.”

The American Gas Association, however, argues that federal agencies like the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the E.P.A. haven’t taken any steps to limit the use of gas appliances. “There are no documented risks to respiratory health from natural gas stoves from the regulatory and advisory agencies,” Mr. Meyer said.


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