Gas vs electric: the ongoing debate

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(Source: o5com / Flickr)

One of the biggest issues we face when making food is balancing health with taste, as well as also cost. We want our food to be tasty and healthy, but we don’t want to break the bank making food. An excellent indicator as to how costly our food will be is what we cook it with. This is why so many struggle with gas or electric appliances, considering what the outcomes are.

Common knowledge

Most people are aware of the basics. As Saving Electricity points out:

“Natural gas is almost always cheaper than electricity.  Of course, if you don’t cook very much, the savings won’t be that great.  Electric stoves account for only 2.8% of electric use for households that have them.  (The oven part of the stoves comprises only 1.8%.)”

However, this is not perfect or universal. After all, some people could use the stove so infrequently any difference becomes negligible. Someone who barely uses his electric stove probably won’t be using his electric oven, either.

According to most studies, working purely with costs, the energy efficient winner is gas. How Stuff Works summarises the findings of leading institutes:

“[Gas] takes about three times as much energy to produce and deliver electricity to your stove. According to the California Energy Commission, a gas stove will cost you less than half as much to operate (provided that you have an electronic ignition.)”

But that doesn’t quite answer our cooking needs nor provide a full picture.

Where the debate lies

As Kitchen Myths points out, in its list of where gas and electric stoves succeed, it’s clear the answer is not simple. For example, boiling is essential to cooking. Yet, one does it significantly better than the other.

“In comparison tests, gas stoves are almost always slower to boil a large pot of water than an electric stove with the same BTU rating. This is probably because a lot more heat escapes with gas.”

Timing is everything here. So, if one does it slower than another, that will have an effect on taste. Indeed, because you’re spending more gas than you would electricity, you might find the cost is more in this instance.

Common knowledge then isn’t conclusive. What we need to do is carefully calculate our costs at the end of the month, using whatever appliance we currently have. Then, we need to obtain details about particular stoves or appliances. With this data and info, we can compare the differences and see whether there is anything significant.

The overall point is that gas isn’t obviously better, only more likely to be so. We should, however, always think of our own individual situation before making a purchasing decision.