solar cooker

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.

Solar Salad

We get a lot of sun in Edmonton. In fact, I've heard that we have as many sunny hours as Miami. Moving into the uncertain future, that's an asset.

On May 6, I decided to leverage that asset into a sun-cooked potato salad.

Solar Ovens

The concept of a solar oven is very simple: a black, insulated box with glazing (plastic or glass) is aimed towards the sun. It's amazing how the simplest concepts can be so powerful. It's a cinch to get my solar oven up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and during the hottest months it will hit 300 degrees.  read more... »