Appliances - Range


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One of the the underappreciated marvels of the modern age is the cooking appliance. The ability to so accurately channel energy to enable perfect cooking is a vast improvement over how we used to cook (I’m thinking open fire here, but there were probably some cultures that came up with more ingenious methods). I often find myself marveling at how effortless and clean it is to cook food these days.

Replacing or Buying New

Here are some questions, thoughts and consuming strategies when it comes to ranges and stovetops:

  • Do you really need a new range? Ovens and stovetops have barely increased in fuel efficiency over the past 50 years. After all, wasted energy is usually lost as heat, which in this case is obviously not a waste at all. Consider just keeping using your old range or having it repaired.
  • Can you buy a used range? Used appliances are a dime a dozen, and while I would almost never encourage buying a used fridge (old ones are way less efficient), a used range is probably as energy efficient as a new one.
  • Consider gas. A gas range is much more efficient than an electric one because of the massive energy losses (covered here in regard to ground source heat pumps) involved in converting coal and natural gas to electricity.
  • Buy the most energy efficient model. Let the range’s Energuide Rating be your guide.


All of the following reduce coal burning:

  • Use a toaster oven. Because they’re so much smaller, toaster ovens use less energy to bake any given thing.
  • Use a pressure cooker and/or thermal cooker.
  • Cook with the sun.
  • Turn off the stovetop a few minutes before you’re done cooking. The thermal inertia of the pan or pot that you’re using will keep the food cooking for a while after the burner is turned off.

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You may want to add that using a simple lid conserves a lot of the wasted heat in cooking. I have seen high tech mountaineering camping stoves take this a step further and use heat shields to recover wasted heat going sideways too.

Good point Dave. You can even place a lid on boiling pasta as long as you leave enough of an opening for some steam to escape.

Anything from potatoes to pasta cooks just as well with a full cover. I just turn the heat down accordingly to adjust for the increase of pressure which rises inside of the pot, and prevent it from boiling over. In turn, the food cooks in the same amount of time on a lower setting.

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