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According to an article on howstuffworks.com and several other online sources, electric stoves are generally less energy-efficient than gas stoves, since it requires "about three times as much energy" to produce and deliver electricity to a stove.

But the article does not provide any evidence for this claim, and I have found other sources that seem to contradict it, claiming that electric induction stoves are generally more energy-efficient than gas stoves.

Has it ever been proven that electric stoves require "three times as much energy" as gas stoves?

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    One thing to note is depending on the energy source and how much pollution it creates something that uses less energy can produce more pollution.
    – Joe W
    Jan 18, 2023 at 21:19
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    Using electricity from gas-fired generating stations as a source of heat is very inefficient: the gas burned by the gas stove is 100% converted into heat, while at the station the gas is used to boil water which is used to turn a turbine which is used to turn a generator which provides electricity which is converted to super high transmission voltage, which is carried through wires over long distances to a transformer which converts it to high distribution voltage, which is carried to a transformer which lowers the voltage, which goes into your house, and every single step loses some energy. Jan 18, 2023 at 21:57
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    @RayButterworth it’s not that obvious. With gas stoves, the last step also loses quite a lot of energy (most of the heat generated does not actually heat up your food, although it might heat up your kitchen, which is good in the winter but bad in the summer). See this video.
    – Dan Romik
    Jan 18, 2023 at 22:20
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    @DanRomik, I'm not going to spend 25 minutes watching something on YouTube that could have been summarized here in a few words. Jan 19, 2023 at 3:11
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    The howthingswork.com article you linked to compared traditional coil-based (non-induction) electric ranges to gas. The last article to which you linked compared electric induction ranges to gas. There's a huge difference between coil-based electric ranges and electric induction ranges. Jan 19, 2023 at 7:15

2 Answers 2

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Depends on how you make and distribute your electricity

This paper states that induction, conventional electric, and gas are 90%, 72%, and 40% efficient respectively at point of use.

The efficiency of the grid depends on the efficiency of both generation, which depends on the fuel source and the operating conditions and age of the generator, and transmission/distribution which depends on the network configuration and overall demand.

While it is impossible to pick a number for this as it is dynamic, we can work out what it needs to be to make electricity more efficient than gas. For induction it is 44% and for conventional it is 56%.

Most modern grids will always be better than 44% efficient. In a few decades, smart grids and increasing renewable generation will make them better than 55%.

So, in general, the claim is not true, induction stoves are overall more energy efficient that gas stoves.

If you are considering greenhouse gas emissions, things get more complicated again because while gas stoves always use gas, electric stoves use a range of fuels - coal, gas, renewables - in ever changing proportions.

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    TBH that paper is a bit shady. I'm not sure what "infrastructure limitations" they had that all electric appliances were tested indoors at 21C but the gas one was apparently tested outdoors at 10C. Since the goal was to heat some water to the boiling point, the testing conditions obviously have an effect on measured efficiency. Jan 21, 2023 at 1:06
  • In a wishy-washy demo they even say "It can be reasonably expected that the cooking efficiency of the gas range measured at 50° is somewhat lower than if tested at 70° F. As such, the results of gas efficiency testing should not be directly compared with the electric technologies. However, these results are useful for illustrating the relative efficiency of gas technology." Jan 21, 2023 at 1:14
  • Even more dubiously they claim "conventional electric coil was found to be 6% more efficient than induction cooking when measured with the large cooking vessel". TBH I suspect their vessel was a rather poor inductor. Induction cookers are fairly sensitive to the alloy/metal that makes the pot. Anyhow, even for conventional electric they report a large variation depending on the diameter of the pot relative to the heating element: "Average cooking efficiency of conventional electric technology lies somewhere between the 42% and 83% measured in this testing." Jan 21, 2023 at 1:18
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    There is an additional data point that isn't included in these links. Multiple studies, such as this point out that a significant amount of gas leaks from the stove when it is not turned on. In addition to being a health hazard this needs to be accounted for in overall efficiency.
    – doneal24
    Jan 21, 2023 at 15:09
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    @RayButterworth that’s not true. A gas cooker is about 40% efficient. A gas power station is about 60% efficient. The former is a small naked flame directly heating a pot, the latter is a huge furnace superheating steam to turn a turbine. The energy transfer process is completely different and so is the efficiency.
    – Dale M
    Jan 21, 2023 at 21:58
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Dale M wrote the answer I would've.

But why are we talking about energy efficiency? Typically it's in the context of reducing carbon emissions, which actually is a topic of climate change. (Let's set aside the question of whether climate change is real, which is way outside the scope of this answer).

If it's about climate change, there's a game-changing wrinkle.

The wrinkle is that *methane leaked into the atmosphere is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. (some sources say 80 times).

So even if a correctly run gas stove warms food with less CO2 emission than using gas at the power plant to make electricity to run a coil or inductor....... the gas leakage in the delivery pipes works against any climate-change benefit. It's common - really. Everyone who looks finds thousands of them.

Like car accidents, these are endemic but invisible, because they are not newsworthy (unlike large pipeline breaks).

The problem is intractable because delivering gas to every home requires countless thousands of miles of piping, very little of which is practically possible to inspect or maintain internally. This contrasts with the piping to natural gas power plants, which is quite large, regularly inspected and serviced, and is easy to run an inspection "pig" down. Gas losses at the fields is another matter, but at least can be regulated.

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  • Just eliminating the stove would hardly reduce methane leakage because most houses and businesses that have gas stoves have gas heat, gas hot water and often gas clothes dryer and gas fireplace.
    – DavePhD
    Jan 23, 2023 at 14:09
  • Obligatory Tom Scott video - turns out that gas leaks are responsible for regular manhole explosions in London.
    – jaskij
    Jan 24, 2023 at 18:24
  • @DavePhD well then let's address those, too :)
    – Apfelsaft
    Feb 22, 2023 at 10:26
  • Exactly. Some cities have electrification strategies which call for replacing all of it. Feb 22, 2023 at 22:49

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