How Much Money Do You Spend to Power Your Cooking Appliances?
The short answer: it depends.
It depends on which devices you use, how often you use them, how efficient they are, what type of fuel powers them, and how much your utility companies charge for energy. But let’s explore each of these categories to see how they impact your energy bills.
Typical Cooking Appliances
Kitchens are packed with energy-consuming cooking appliances that impact your energy bills. From blenders to slow cookers to hot dog toasters, the list can seem endless. Typically, ranges (the combination of stovetop and oven) are the most expensive to operate because they use the most energy. But while other devices like microwaves, coffee makers, and toasters require less energy per use, their vampire loads can quickly add up! It’s important to unplug all devices that aren’t being used to save on energy bills. Check out our episode on vampire loads to learn more!
How Often Americans Cook
According to the EIA, 90% of US households have a range, and 96% of US households have a microwave. Of the households that have a range, they use their oven about 3.5 times per week and they use their stovetop about 7.5 times per week. The average US household with a microwave uses it for about 6.5 minutes per day. Check out the photo below to see the average uses per week of stovetops, ovens, and microwaves within US households. (These numbers are from pre-COVID data.)
It’s important to keep in mind that how many times you use your cooking appliances per week is only a small indicator of how much money you’re paying to operate those appliances. A more accurate measure to determine your energy costs is to know how many minutes you use each device at certain cooking settings. For example, you will pay for more energy by using an over for 30 minutes at 400OF than you would pay to use it for 15 minutes at 350OF.
The Efficiency of Electric and Natural Gas Ranges
About 62% of households have electric ranges, 33% have natural gas ranges, and 5% have propane ranges. Looking at recent prices, natural gas and propane are cheaper per unit of energy than electricity. However, electricity ranges are actually more energy efficient. About 75% of the energy used on an electric range is transferred as heat to the food being cooked, but only about 40% of energy used on a gas range actually makes it to the food.
Side Note: Gas ranges can create much higher levels of in-home air pollutants than electric ranges do. No matter which fuel your range uses, make sure to use a hood vent fan that effectively removes dirty air from the kitchen.
Prices for Electricity and Natural Gas
So let’s calculate the price difference for an electric range vs a natural gas range. Let’s assume that the average household that uses its oven 3.5 per week and its stovetop 7.5 per week, each at 30 minutes per use. With a 3000-W oven and a 1500-W stovetop burner, an electric range would cost about $90 in annual operating costs for an electric range. Accounting for differences in efficiency and energy prices, if we had a gas range, the annual operating costs might be around $57. This is assuming the national averages for electricity and natural gas of $0.12/kWh and $10/cubic foot, respectively.
How Can You Reduce Your Energy Expenses for Stovetop and Oven?
To reduce the energy costs of using ranges, you can do all the prep work like cutting vegetables before you turn on the stovetop or oven. In many cases, you can also turn off the stovetop or oven a few minutes before the food is done, because the heating elements will still be warm enough to cook your food. Just always make sure everything is completely cooked before you eat it!
Clean the heating elements of your stovetops and ovens regularly to maintain their efficiency! The more efficient they are, the less energy you will pay for while cooking.
Keep the Door Closed!
Keep your oven door closed while your food is cooking. Opening the door to check on the food can drop the oven temperature by up to 25OF, making the oven use more energy to account for the lost heat.
Smart Pan and Pot Selection and Use
Covering pots on the stovetop is another good way to keep heat from escaping. You should also be sure to use the correct size burner and pots. If you use a 6-in diameter pot on an 8-in diameter burner, you’re paying for 40% more energy than you need to be!
Furthermore, the material of the pan is important. Copper heats up more quickly than a normal pan, and glass and ceramic dishes are great for baking food in the oven.
Cook and Eat with Good Company!
An effective strategy for reducing cooking expenses is to cook and eat the same type of meal at the same time with good company. By cooking together with others, you reduce how often you use your cooking appliances. Furthermore, by cooking in bulk, you can use our range to cook multiple meals at once, then use your microwave to heat up leftovers throughout the coming days.
If you’re looking to purchase a new range, make sure you find one with a convection oven. These ovens circulate warm air over the food, making them 20% more efficient than a standard model. For electric stovetops, if you upgrade to induction technology and use compatible magnetic pans, the efficiency can increase from 75% to 90%. Additionally, induction cooking more evenly distributes heat than standard conduction stovetops.
Disclaimer: Please consult with a professional before making any upgrades to your appliances, kitchen, or home. Any and all upgrades should maintain proper health, safety, and sanitation levels within your homes. It All Adds Up and its affiliates are not responsible for any household damage or personal injuries that should occur from following any suggestions from It All Adds Up.