Time to Dump the Gas Stove
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Time to Dump the Gas Stove

Dec 16, 2023

If not because it destroys the climate and fouls the air, then because cooking on it sucks.

I spent the first two weeks of September in Durango, Colorado, a beautiful little town at nearly 7000 feet in the southwest corner of the state. The hiking was great, the river that runs through the town is beautiful, and my wife pronounced the town itself to be “adorable”.

This is the second year in a row we have rented a place there to enjoy the mountain amenities, and have had a delightful time. And the second year in a row I have been reminded how much I now dislike cooking on a natural gas stove.

The morning view from our rental in Durango

At home in the Bay Area, we put in an electric induction stove three years ago. As the main cook in the family, I have been singing its praises ever since. Yet, we have friends who not only aren’t ready to dump their high-end gas stoves, but can’t even imagine switching when they need a new one.

I don’t own stock in any stove companies or any electric utilities. But I do cook quite a bit, and I am always checking out new recipes, utensils, and appliances. There are many reviews of induction stoves out there, but they seem to be written from the product descriptions, rather than from the actual experience of cooking on them. So, since I get asked about induction stoves a lot, here’s my view, and my explanation of why I was so annoyed to be stuck with gas in our Durango rentals.

Power. The first argument you hear from gas devotees is that electric stoves just don’t have the oomph they need. They’ve never experienced electric induction cooking. Our mid-range model heats water – and anything else – faster than any gas stove I have ever used. The only-partial joke in our household is that you never turn your back on the stove, because it heats so powerfully that it is easy to burn things or have them boil over, at least until you learn the settings.

In part, that power is because nearly all of the energy used by the stove is going into the pan and its content. That’s in contrast to a gas stove, which is heating not just the air under the pan, but a lot of the air around the pan, particularly if you are turning it up high.


That has another big advantage for klutzy cooks, like me. I burn myself a lot less often on an electric induction stove. The only thing that is hot is the pan and its content. Not the handle, not the cooking surface around it, not the air next to the pan where a gas flame would be licking. I spend less time with my hand in ice water these days.

Responsiveness. The old electric stoves had a well-deserved bad reputation for heating up slowly and adjusting slowly. If something was cooking too fast, the only choice you had was to move the pan off the burner, and then wait a couple of minutes for it to readjust. Not so with induction. It adjusts instantly. You turn off the burner and it stops cooking.

Precision. I have spent years cooking with gas, and just as long bent over trying to adjust the flame just right. Our induction stove has 20 little dots on the control. I don’t have to guess at how high the flame is, or spend time trying to nudge it just a little bit up or down. My recipes now remind me to cook a dish at “5 dots”, so I do.

(Source) The never-ending adjustments to get the flame just right

Size of the heating area. Here’s something that my friends who use electric induction didn’t flag when I was checking them out. On a gas stove, when you reduce the flame to a very low level, the flame gets smaller and the diameter of the cooking area shrinks. Not so on an induction stove. You can put a big pan on an induction surface, set it to the very lowest setting, and it still heats every bit of that pan to the same level. No hot spots in the middle and cold edges.

Pots and Pans. If you have thought about an electric induction stove, you have surely heard that some pots and pans won’t work on them. It’s true. But most will, and your most prized pans are likely to. Cast iron works just great, as does anything with steel in it. And virtually all new pots and pans are induction-friendly. The manufacturers have figured out that all they need to do is put in a layer of steel and it works fine with induction, regardless of what the actual cooking surface is.

Which reminds me that even some of our induction-unfriendly pots still work with the induction stove. I have a big soup pot that must be aluminum or some other material that is not magnetic. But just like the manufacturers who put in a layer of steel, you can buy a steel disc that goes on the burner and beneath your non-induction pot. The disc gets hot and heats the pot. I wouldn’t use it for frying, but for slow simmering in a big pot, it works great, and still seems to dissipate less heat than a gas flame.


Cleaning. The division of labor in our house means that I usually don’t have to do the cleanup, but my wife quickly pointed out one of the biggest advantages of electric induction. The top is one continuous, smooth impact-resistant glass surface, about the easiest thing you could imagine for cleaning, especially compared to the burners of a gas stove with all the strangely shaped parts that can take a long time after a messy spill. I do help out by cleaning spills as I go, because the surface heat dissipates almost immediately when you turn off the burner, so you can wipe up spills before they have a chance to harden.

Pollution. I couldn’t finish the list of advantages without noting that electric induction is just a much more environmentally-friendly way to cook, for both indoor air quality and the planet.

Induction Downsides. The biggest drawback is the upfront cost. Electric induction stoves are coming down in price, but can still cost 50% more than gas equivalents. And the induction option could require an electric service upgrade, depending on the capacity of your panel, and the other appliances you own. New technologies, however, may reduce that need.

Beyond cost, there are a couple of other issues that I would consider minor annoyances. If you want to roast something over an open flame, such as a pepper, you are out of luck with electric induction. Of course, I haven’t given up my barbecue, so I have an alternative. And electric induction isn’t much use if you don’t have electricity. During power outages, the stove is useless, either to cook food or to heat your house (not the safest thing to do, but I know I’m not the only one who has done it). And most backup power sources aren’t going to support the power draw of an electric induction, so you are going to want a different cooking source during power outages. I can do most things on our propane barbecue, and if you have one that has a side burner, that should handle it if outages are rare.

Bottom Line. Not everyone can afford to upgrade to an electric induction stove. But in my experience, it is a clear step up from any other stovetop cooking technology. If I had to go back to gas, I would fight like…well, like those people who are fighting to stick with their gas stoves. For now, I will keep looking for a dog-friendly rental in Durango with an induction stove.

Keep up with Energy Institute blogs, research, and events on Twitter @energyathaas.

Suggested citation: Borenstein, Severin. “Time to Dump the Gas Stove” Energy Institute Blog, UC Berkeley, September 25, 2023, https://energyathaas.wordpress.com/2023/09/25/time-to-dump-the-gas-stove/




climate change, electricity, gasoline

Severin Borenstein is Professor of the Graduate School in the Economic Analysis and Policy Group at the Haas School of Business and Faculty Director of the Energy Institute at Haas. He received his A.B. from U.C. Berkeley and Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T. His research focuses on the economics of renewable energy, economic policies for reducing greenhouse gases, and alternative models of retail electricity pricing. Borenstein is also a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA. He served on the Board of Governors of the California Power Exchange from 1997 to 2003. During 1999-2000, he was a member of the California Attorney General's Gasoline Price Task Force. In 2012-13, he served on the Emissions Market Assessment Committee, which advised the California Air Resources Board on the operation of California’s Cap and Trade market for greenhouse gases. In 2014, he was appointed to the California Energy Commission’s Petroleum Market Advisory Committee, which he chaired from 2015 until the Committee was dissolved in 2017. From 2015-2020, he served on the Advisory Council of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Since 2019, he has been a member of the Governing Board of the California Independent System Operator.