A guide to lower impact cookers
This guide covers gas and electric cookers, whether they be freestanding, hobs or ovens.
Indesit and Hotpoint sell the most whilst the Glen Dimplex brands, Stoves and Belling, have lost ground to the cheaper Turkish brand, Beko. Meanwhile Bosch-Siemens attributes the growth in the sales of its Neff, Siemens and Gaggenau brands to focusing on energy efficiency.
In a typical household 3-4% of its total energy use is attributable to cooking. There is also a slow decline in the amount of cooking being done in the home because of the rise in ready meals and take away food (see Microwaves guide).
Gas or electric?
The table below, using information from the National Energy Foundation and confusedaboutenergy.co.uk, gives some idea of the relative impacts of using the hob vs the oven, and gas vs electric (conventionally generated). As you can see the low CO2 choice is pretty much always gas, where it is available. Although gas ovens and hobs use more energy, gas generates less carbon dioxide per kWh.
Of course, using electricity that you have generated yourself on-site from renewables means that there are no CO2 emissions for electric ovens and hobs. Or choose a green electricity supplier that sources 100% renewable energy.
||Average energy consumption per use (kWh)*
||Average grammes of CO2 per use
* ‘Average energy consumption per use (kWh)’ figures come from the confusedaboutenergy.com site. The National Energy Foundation calculator is then used to calculate the average grammes of CO2 per use.
Induction cooking works by applying electromagnetism to pans with a high iron content (so it won’t work with ceramic/glass/aluminium pans). The effect of the electromagnetism is to directly heat the pan up, in turn heating the food. This is different to other forms of cooking, whereby the hob is heated and the pan then applied to the heat.
Induction hobs are significantly more energy efficient than standard electric hobs. Having said this, once the environmental impacts of replacing your existing hob and some/all of your pans are taken into consideration, along with the price of the hob itself, you may be best sticking with your existing hob.
As can be seen from the table above, induction hobs are the most energy efficient hob but in terms of carbon, they still don’t beat a gas hob unless you are using renewable electricity.
In 2009, cooking accounted for 13.3 TWh of electricity in the UK, 15.5% of the household total – not much different from 2005’s consumption level. By 2020, that level’s not predicted to change.
By 2020 it is predicted that 30% of Britain’s ovens will be gas, and 70% electric. That’s not good news for climate change, unless you use renewable electricity (see above). This prediction is reversed for hobs, as many people prefer to do stove-top cooking with gas. By 2020 Britain’s hobs are expected to be 40% electric and 60% gas.
There has been an EU Energy Label for electric ovens since 2003. A Label for gas ovens was expected in 2008 but will only come into force in February 2015.
You can reduce your cooker’s contribution to climate change when you are using it by following these energy saving facts and tips:
- Fan ovens use around 20% less energy than conventional ovens.
- Replace damaged seals around the oven door.
- Avoid opening the oven door when cooking where possible – choose an oven with a glass panel in the door to check how the food is doing.
- Cook more than one item at a time in the oven.
- Cook smaller meals under the grill, or, with a double oven, in the smaller one.
- A microwave uses 60% to 80% less energy than ovens.
- For gas cookers, an electric ignition rather than a continuous pilot light saves energy.
- Glass and ceramic pans heat more efficiently than metal.
- Match the pan to the size of the hotplate or to the flame.
- Always put lids on pans – more than a quarter of electricity is wasted when you cook your food without a lid.
- Use pans with a flat base.
- Pressure cookers and steamers save energy as they enable you to cook several different foods on one ring.
- The ultimate energy saver – eat more raw food!
- Check the web for how to make a simple hay box, whereby a heated pan is insulated in a box full of straw and the residual heat finishes off the cooking. Thermal cookers are modern, stainless steel versions of the same thing.
German multinational Siemens, which has a joint venture with Bosch to make white goods, was widely reported to have announced an exit from the nuclear industry in 2011 in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and the subsequent swell of anti-nuclear feeling in Germany.
Chief executive Peter Loescher told Spiegel magazine:
“The clear positioning of German society and politics for a pullout from nuclear energy” meant that “the chapter for us is closed”.
However, today Siemens Energy still promotes its services as a supplier of nuclear power stations including one currently being built in Finland.
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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1 How to Live a Low-Carbon Life by Chris Goodall, Earthscan 2010
2 MINTEL, Ovens and Microwaves - UK - November 2012
3 The elephant in the living room: how our appliances and gadgets are trampling the green dream, Energy Saving Trust, September 2011
This product guide is part of a Special Report on Home Appliances. See what's in the rest of the report.