Gas stoves are often considered to be the best appliance to cook with, as they provide excellent control of the heat level and they quickly get food to temperature.
In the US, around one-third of homes have a gas appliance that is used for cooking, highlighting their importance in everyday lives.
Gas stoves are sometimes associated with a more natural method of cooking, as it uses an open flame. However, this fuel comes from burning fossil fuels which release harmful pollution into the atmosphere and your home.
The term natural gas is misleading, making it sound greener than coal or oil, when in fact it is just as bad for the environment.
If greenhouse gas emissions were reduced to zero tomorrow, we would still experience a 1.5-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures within the next twenty years.
Currently, our emissions are not slowing at a fast enough rate, and we need to drastically change our lifestyles and the fuels we use.
Why Gas Stoves are Bad for the Environment?
Gas Stoves Use a Non-renewable Energy Source
Gas stoves use natural gas which is a non-renewable, fossil fuel and emits gases like carbon dioxide and methane. In the US, gas stoves emit a massive 6.8 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.
Methane is the most worrying gas as it is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in our atmosphere, having disastrous effects on the climate.
Conversations around fossil fuels can get confusing, especially when the word natural is used to describe gases. These gases are natural, in the sense that they are also created and emitted naturally through the decay of organic materials, microbes in the ocean, and even volcanic activity.
These natural emissions, however, are part of a balanced cycle, which means the same amount that is released is offset by methane sinks in nature.
Human activity is unbalancing the equilibrium of the natural world, and by burning fossil fuels, more gas is released into the atmosphere than is being stored.
When you consider that 80% of global energy needs are still supplied through non-renewable, fossil fuels and that this contributes to two-thirds of the worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.
It is clear that using natural gas, coal, and oil is having devastating effects on the planet. Gas stoves are clearly part of the problem and are having negative effects on the environment.
Gas Stoves are Leaking
A recent study found that even when gas stoves in the US are turned off, and not being used, they emit around 2.6 million tons of methane each year – that is equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 500,000 cars.
This is a shocking statistic, as most people would assume that their stove does not leak, and it is only because of recent research into pollution within the home that this information has become available.
Think of a gas stove, which is an open flame, where you can see and sometimes smell the gas as you watch the combustion happen before your eyes. Inevitably, there will be some gas escaping into your home when the stove is in use, but we do not consider the gas emitting when the stove is off.
If we also consider that gas is leaking through every part of the supply chain, from the pipelines and gas wells, as well as within the home, whether the stove is on or off, this appliance has a negative impact on the environment.
Gas Stoves are Bad for Your Health
Environmental pollutants are damaging to human health, as well as the planet, and gas stoves release harmful gases directly into the home.
As previously outlined, gas stoves use fossil fuels which release methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and increase the negative effects of global warming. These stoves have also been found to release the gas nitrogen dioxide, which is harmful to your health, as well as carbon monoxide, which is even more deadly.
Nitrogen dioxide is odorless, which means it goes unnoticed in your home. Those houses with gas stoves rather than electric stoves have been shown to have up to 400% higher concentrations of this gas, a level that would be considered illegal outside.
This has negative effects on the air within your home, as it has been shown to cause respiratory problems and chronic conditions like asthma. It also causes environmental issues such as acid rain that harm wildlife and habitats, and it leads to an imbalance of the nutrient levels in the soil.
Carbon monoxide is an incredibly dangerous gas that can cause serious illness or death as it reduces the amount of oxygen that can be carried around the body. This is a negative environmental pollutant, particularly from a health standpoint. Gas stoves can emit this gas and in homes that are poorly ventilated, this is a big concern.
Cities in the US Have Banned Gas Stoves
Areas in New York, California, and other parts of the US have banned gas stoves from being installed within new buildings. This is because of concerns about natural gas being a leading contributor to climate change and pollution.
There is a movement within the US energy system towards using renewable energy sources, although this is happening at a slow pace.
Natural gas is not considered to be a long-term solution to heating within our homes due to these environmental concerns, as indicated by gas stoves being phased out.
Are There Any Benefits to Having a Gas Stove?
The points above outline why gas stoves are bad for the environment, and this is enough to make you want to immediately replace the one in your home with something cleaner. It is not that simple, however, as it is better for the planet to use an appliance until it is broken and needs replacing.
The production of appliances also uses a lot of energy and it is always best to reuse everything you can.
There are a few reasons why gas stoves can be a good option for the environment. Gas stoves use less energy than electric stoves because of the quick transfer of heat, which results in less cooking time.
The electricity that electric stoves use will predominantly come from fossil fuels like coal and oil, which are less efficient than natural gas when they burn and lead to negative impacts on the environment.
It is worth mentioning that we are moving towards using renewable energy sources to create electricity, which would make electric stoves the better option.
Natural gas is also more efficient to burn than coal, so depending on how the electrical energy is created, it may be better to stick with a gas stove.
There is also an important consideration on affordability, as for many people it is cheaper to use a gas stove, or it is not possible to change to another type of cooking appliance. In these cases, gas stoves can be considered a good middle-ground as we make the transition to renewable energy.
What are Better Alternatives to Gas Stoves?
The best substitute for a gas stove is electricity. There are standard electric stoves that heat an element which then transfers this heat to the pot. This is becoming more common within homes; in fact, new builds are more likely to have an electric stove installed than gas.
An important consideration is how the electricity is generated, and if this is through environmentally friendly, renewable methods, then this would make electric stoves significantly better for the environment than gas stoves.
There is still a reliance on fossil fuels across the world and we have a long way to go before we can celebrate 100% clean energy.
Induction stoves are currently the most efficient form of this appliance, as they work through magnetic conduction. This means induction stoves heat the pot directly and do not waste energy heating an element, so the stovetop stays cold. This process results in a reduction in heat loss and therefore less energy is wasted, which is a big positive for the environment.
However, induction stoves are expensive and require specific cooking equipment containing iron for the heat transfer to work.
Another way to improve the environment in your home is to have an extractor hood that will effectively remove the air, therefore reducing the build-up of gases in your home.
It is important that whatever appliance is in the home, it should be used as little as possible and be serviced to increase efficiency and performance.
If we are going to meet this goal, we need to look towards environmentally friendly options for the future and move away from our dependence on fossil fuels.
Gas stoves do not align with these goals considering the negative effects they have on the environment and the use of non-renewable fuels, but as many still rely on them, we should aim to make them as efficient as possible.
Related content: Is Propane a Natural Gas?
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