Cookers


Ethical shopping guide to Gas & Electric Cookers, Ovens & Hobs, from Ethical Consumer.

Ethical shopping guide to Gas & Electric Cookers, Ovens & Hobs, from Ethical Consumer.


This is a product guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.


How can we heat up our food without heating up the planet?

 

  • ethical and environmental ratings for 45 cookers, ovens & hobs, freestanding and built-in
  • Best Buy recommendations
  • whether cooking with gas or electricity has the least environmental impact
  • energy labelling
  • reduce your climate change impact when cooking with our energy saving facts and tips
  • see also Microwave Oven guide

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Last updated: March 2018 

 

 

 

Related Content

Special Report into Home Appliances

 

 

Cookers

 

This product guide covers both gas and electric cookers, be they freestanding units, hobs or built-in ovens.

Without a clear ethical brand, conscious consumption in this sector revolves around energy use and company group ethics.

Choosing a cooker can be an arduous task. The multibranding strategies from leading manufacturers have resulted in a highly saturated and confusing market place. This guide alone covers 45 different brands.

 

image: hob

 

Having said that, there are some clear market heavyweights. Biggest of all are Turkish-owned brand Beko and Whirlpool’s newly acquired brand Indesit. British-made cooker brands such as New World, Stoves and Belling are comparatively small, but have posted positive sales in recent years. [1]

 


 

Table highlights

 

Toxic chemicals

Most companies featured on the score table above lacked any real discussion of toxics like PVC and BFRs. They all got a worst Ethical Consumer rating apart from Samsung which got a best.

 

Conflict minerals

Unfortunately, almost all of the companies in this guide did not have a publicly available conflict minerals policy, and were therefore given a worst Ethical Consumer rating for conflict minerals. The only companies that did better were Panasonic, Samsung and Siemens, which achieved a middle rating and Russell Hobbs which received a best.

 

Tax avoidance

There was a much wider spread on ratings for likely use of tax avoidance strategies. The companies that didn’t get a worst were rated as follows:

Best
: Glen Dimplex (Belling, New World, Stoves), Zorlu Holding (Servis), Gorenje Group, Smeg, Howden Joinery (Lamona).

Middle
: Miele, Candy, Investor AB (AEG, Zanussi, Electrolux).

 

 

 

Gas or electric?

 

The table below shows the average energy consumption and CO2 emitted per use in 2018 and 2014. As you can see, since we last covered cookers in 2014, the average CO2 emitted by electric ovens and hobs has fallen by almost 22%. This is thanks to a reduction in the carbon intensity of the UK’s electricity, which many predict will continue to fall.

 

Is it therefore time to make the big switch to electric?

Well, probably not. Although it is true that the CO2 emissions of gas will not change greatly, recent government action has demonstrated that green energy production is not its primary concern. A recent study found that investment in renewable energy in the UK is set to fall by 95% over the next three years.

If you want to check the latest statistics and input your specific oven’s energy consumption, you could use the carbon calculator

 

Induction hobs

As for hobs, it may very well be time to consider induction hobs as the most environmentally friendly option. Even if electricity in the UK only becomes slightly less CO2 intensive, they are set to overtake gas hobs in the coming years. Induction works by applying electromagnetism to pans with a high iron content (i.e. not ceramic, glass or aluminium). This effectively directly heats the pan and not the hob surface.

As you can see in the table, induction hobs consume far less energy per use than gas or electric. However, many consumers will have to replace some/all of their existing pans to use an induction hob, thereby buying products which come with their own energy consumed during manufacture.

 

*  ‘Average energy consumption per use (kWh)’ figures come from the confusedaboutenergy.com site.  The National Energy Foundation carbon calculator is then used to calculate the average grammes of CO2 per use. 

 


 

Energy use

 

Cooking uses a significant amount of energy. In terms of electricity alone, cooking (which covers electric hob, electric oven, microwave and kettle) used approximately 12.8 TWh of electricity in 2016. That’s 16.6% of the household total for the whole of the UK.

Although cooking doesn’t use a huge amount of energy when compared to things like transport and space heating, it isn’t nothing. In the UK, cooking amounted to 2.6% of total energy use within the home in 2016. (Space heating accounted for 62%).

Studies have found that “traditional ovens are among the most inefficient appliances, with an energy efficiency of around 10-12% with respect to the input power.” Our ovens waste energy on heating empty space and heat is lost because of air flow and ventilation.

The EU life+ fund have partnered with the Whirlpool Corporation to fund a project, called the Highly Efficient Ovens (HEO) project, which has tasked itself with designing a new model of oven with much higher energy efficiency.

The project has succeeded in achieving a 63% reduction in energy used in the production process and an effective 30% reduction in the ovens’ use-phase. As the project is partnered with the Whirlpool Corporation we hope to see these improvements being incorporated soon into their oven brands Hotpoint, Indesit and Whirlpool, none of which currently have an A++ rated model.

 

Energy efficiency

The EU Energy Labelling scheme has proven to be a great success for other home appliances in the UK and energy labels were introduced for electric and gas ovens in 2015. This will allow consumers to make more informed and environmentally conscious decisions when buying a built-in oven or a freestanding cooker with an oven in it. The energy label does not currently apply to hobs.

Cooking appliances can now achieve a top rating of A++. However, very few products have been awarded this rating. In fact, we only found two ovens on sale in the UK with an A++ label, one from AEG and one from Grundig, both of which gain a Product Sustainability mark on this guide. Although the vast majority of cookers achieve at least an A rating, we hope that in the coming years companies give more emphasis to energy efficiency. More details on the energy rating of many models on the market are available at the Sust-it website.

 


 

 

Clever cooking


You can reduce the carbon intensity of your cooking by following some simple energy saving tips:

 

In the oven

  • Think carefully about how you reheat food – microwaves are 60-80% more efficient than ovens.
  • Cook as much as possible in one go to make sure all the space and heat is being used.
  • Keep the oven closed while cooking as each time you open the door the oven loses heat and requires more energy to get back up to temperature.
  • Defrost frozen food in the fridge overnight to reduce the cooking time.
  • Whenever possible use the fan assist cooking option that allows you to set the oven at a lower temperature.
  • For longer cooking cycles, you can switch off the oven 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time and use the residual heat to finish cooking.
  • Maintain the seal on your oven.
  • Glass and ceramic dishes are the most efficient for ovens

 

On the hob

  • Copper-bottomed or cast-iron pans heat more effectively than stainless steel.
  • When possible use a steamer to cook multiple veggies at the same time.
  • Cut food into smaller pieces so it will cook more quickly.
  • Use the right sized pan. According to SmarterHouse, a 6” pan on an 8” electric ring wastes more than 40% of the heat produced by the ring.

 


 

Price comparison

 

In terms of energy costs, gas ovens and hobs easily undercut their electric cousins. However, when initial cost of purchase is considered, electric ovens can be bought for under £100 whereas gas ovens start from around £300.

For our table toppers Gorenje, built-in electric ovens start from around £200. However, it only offers a single A rated free-standing electric cooker at £500 and no gas options. For a wider range of products take a look at Belling, New World, Miele, Smeg and Stoves, all of which are recommended by this guide. Smeg and Miele are both premium brands with higher price tags, whilst Belling and New World make cheaper models.

 


 

Self-cleaning ovens

 

We’ve all been there, scrubbing away the months of grease from the bottom of our oven, wishing there was a way to magic away this most laborious of chores. Well if you didn’t know already, self-cleaning ovens are quickly becoming the latest fashionable feature in the oven market.

The most popular method used by manufactures to achieve this is pyrolytic cleaning. This feature heats your oven to 500°C for three hours, incinerating everything inside to ash. This process is very energy intensive and many people consider it extremely wasteful. Although accurate figures were hard to come by, anecdotal evidence suggests that it uses up to 3 kg of CO2 per cycle. However it should be noted that owing to the high-quality insulation needed to contain this level of heat, these ovens are slightly more energy efficient in normal use than standard ovens (14%).

 


 

Doing without?

 

The lack of ethical brands in this market will leave many ethical consumers scratching their heads at the thought of buying a new cooker. The obvious anti-consumerist advice is hang on to what you’ve got or, if necessary, buy second-hand. However, there are also some more ‘left-field’ solutions such as hay boxes, clay pizza ovens and solar ovens.

Hay boxes are perhaps the most well-known alternative to cookers. A hay box works by retaining the heat of a pre-heated pot, cooking it very slowly over a long period of time. Thermal cookers can be seen as the modern, stainless steel hay box. Thermal cookers have insulation or a vacuum between two stainless steel pots, which retains the heat of your food and continues the cooking process for up to 8 hours! Some suggest that they can save up to 80% on cooking costs.

 

 

 Company Profile

 

Turkish company Zorlu Holding AS is the ultimate owner of the oven brand Servis. The Zorlu Group’s other areas of business include mining, defence and energy.

The other Turkish company in this guide, Koç Holding (which owns the UK’s best-selling brand Beko), is also marked down for Arms & Military Supply.

 

See detailed company information, ethical ratings and issues for all companies mentioned in this guide, by clicking on a brand name in the Score table.  

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References

1 MINTEL, Ovens and Microwaves – UK – November 2015
 

 

 

 


 

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