Finding an eco-friendly cooker
Cooking accounted on average for just 3% of the overall energy consumption of a UK household in 2019.
Still, as it’s an appliance you’re likely to use every day for a decade or more, it’s worth taking the time to choose a cooker that will minimise both your costs and carbon footprint over the long term.
One of the first questions you might ask in your search for an eco-friendly cooker is whether it should be gas or electric. This hasn’t always been an easy question to answer when you try to balance energy efficiency, carbon emissions and running costs.
In the past Gas led to fewer CO2 emissions, but the evidence now shows that things have changed, and Electric cookers typically consume less energy than gas for the same amount of use.
The table below presents the average energy consumption of gas and electric ovens and hobs (presented in Kilowatt Hours per use, week and year).
Energy consumption and carbon footprint of gas versus electric cooking
|Annual CO2e (Kg) 2012
|Annual CO2e (Kg) 2016
|Annual CO2e (Kg) 2020
Table: Average kWh per use figures taken from Confused About Energy, with annual figures based on assumptions of 424 uses per year for hobs and 223 uses per year for ovens. Annual CO2e emissions are calculated using UK government conversion factors for natural gas and electricity use.
Running costs and carbon emissions for different types of cooker
Gas cookers are still somewhat cheaper to run due to the higher price per energy unit of electricity. And while electric cookers may use slightly less energy to cook with, this doesn’t take into account the fact that large amounts of energy are lost in the generation and transmission of electrical power.
Burning a fossil fuel to produce electricity, sending that electricity down a wire before converting it back to heat to cook your food is clearly less efficient than burning a fossil fuel directly under your pan. As a result of this, electric cookers have tended to lead to higher overall carbon emissions than gas. That is, until recently.
In the UK, where the electricity grid is undergoing a gradual process of decarbonisation, the balance is now shifting.
The right-hand columns of the table above compare the CO2e emissions associated with gas and electric cookers based on the UK energy grid in 2012, 2016 and 2020.
It shows that emissions from electricity use have roughly halved over eight years, while those from gas have remained the same, to the point where electric has begun to overtake gas as the low-emissions option.
Also the carbon impact of electrical appliances should continue to decline in line with the further planned decarbonisation of the national grid. Gas appliances however, which burn fossil fuels at the point of use, will always lead to emissions.
The Committee on Climate Change has recommended no new-build homes be connected to the gas grid after 2025, a measure that has already been implemented in the Netherlands.
All of which would suggest that, in the UK at least, electric cooking looks to be the better option for the future.