What Is The Best Cooking Appliance To Save Energy?

What is the best cooking appliance to save energy?

With energy costs continuing to rise, many homeowners are looking for ways to cut down on energy use around the house. One area where you can find significant energy savings is in the kitchen with your cooking appliances. Cooking appliances like ovens, stovetops, microwaves and more can account for a substantial portion of a household’s overall energy consumption.

In this guide, we will provide an overview of some of the most popular cooking appliances used in homes today. We will assess the typical energy efficiency of electric and gas stovetops, ovens, microwaves, slow cookers and induction cooktops. Our goal is to help you understand how these common appliances use energy in order to determine which options may provide the most energy savings in your home.

Cooking appliances rely heavily on electricity or natural gas to power heating elements and electronic controls. By choosing the most efficient models and using these appliances wisely, you can reduce associated energy costs and live a more energy-efficient lifestyle.

Electric Stovetops

Electric stovetops use heating coils or smooth glass-ceramic tops to heat pots and pans. Coil stovetops have exposed coils that glow red when hot, while smooth stovetops have coils hidden below the surface that heat the glass-ceramic surface. Both work by running electricity through resistive coils to produce heat.

Electric stovetops are around 60-70% efficient at transferring heat from the coils to the cookware. Coil stovetops typically use between 1,500 to 2,500 watts on low settings and up to 3,000+ watts on high settings. Smooth stovetops operate in the same range but are slightly more efficient. Operating a single burner for 1 hour per day would use 1.5-3 kWh, costing $0.15-$0.30 at an average electricity rate.

Electric stovetops provide responsive, controllable heat for cooking but use more energy than gas. Newer induction stovetops are more efficient than traditional electric models. Proper cookware that makes good contact with the surface improves efficiency.

Gas Stovetops

Gas stovetops use natural gas or propane to produce a flame underneath the cooktop surface to heat pots and pans. The gas burners contain a gas valve that controls the amount of gas being released, allowing for adjustable temperature control. The flame heats the cookware through direct contact, allowing for very responsive temperature changes.

Gas stovetops tend to be more energy efficient than electric models. According to research from the California Energy Commission, operating a gas stove costs about half as much as an electric stove.1 This is because gas burners transfer heat to cookware more efficiently, wasting less energy. However, gas stoves do lose some heat to the surrounding air. Overall, gas stoves convert about 40% of the supplied energy into heat for cooking, while electric stoves only convert about 75% of the electricity into heat.2

Electric Ovens

Electric ovens use heating elements to heat the air inside the oven cavity. Standard electric ovens rely on thermal radiation to transfer heat from the elements to the food. Convection ovens have a fan that circulates hot air around the cavity for faster, more even heating.

Standard electric ovens heat up more slowly and less efficiently than convection ovens. Convection ovens can cook food around 25-30% faster by better distributing the heat. This improved airflow also helps prevent hot and cold spots.

In terms of energy use, convection ovens are generally more efficient. According to a study by the Florida Solar Energy Center, convection ovens use around 20% less energy than standard electric ovens on average.

However, energy consumption depends heavily on usage habits. Opening the oven door frequently, poor insulation, and improper preheating can waste significant energy. Using the self-cleaning feature also consumes extra electricity. With careful use, both standard and convection electric ovens can be energy efficient options.

Gas Ovens

Gas ovens use natural gas or propane to generate heat and operate the oven. Gas is ignited and burns inside the oven, heating up the interior. The heat then cooks the food inside the oven through conventional, convection, or a combination of both. Gas ovens typically use a pilot light that is always burning to ignite the gas when the oven is turned on (Home Energy Magazine, 2022).

Gas ovens tend to be more energy efficient than electric ovens. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gas ovens are about 40% more energy efficient on average than electric ovens. The DOE estimates that a typical gas oven consumes about 6,500 BTUs per hour while an electric oven consumes about 3.6 kWh per hour. With gas prices being lower than electricity prices, operating a gas oven is usually cheaper than an electric oven (U.S. DOE, 2022).

The main factors that impact the efficiency of a gas oven are its age and what type of ignition system it uses. Newer gas ovens with electronic ignition tend to be the most efficient. Older ovens with a pilot light that is always on use more gas even while not cooking (Gas Network, 2021).


Microwave ovens use microwave radiation to heat and cook food. Microwaves are a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation with a frequency between 300 MHz and 300 GHz (Saha et al., 2016). When microwaves hit the food, the water molecules in the food vibrate rapidly, producing friction and heat that cooks the food (Green Home Technology Center, n.d.).

Microwaves are generally more energy efficient than traditional ovens, especially for heating small portions of food. According to the Green Home Technology Center (n.d.), microwaves do not receive Energy Star ratings because their energy efficiency does not vary as much between models as other appliances. However, microwaves use 50-80% less energy than conventional ovens because they heat food directly and do not need to preheat or maintain high temperatures (Net Zero Tips, 2021). Gallego-Schmid et al. (2018) found microwaves to be 3-10 times more energy efficient than electric ovens for common heating tasks.

Therefore, microwaves provide significant energy savings compared to using the oven, particularly for small meals, reheating leftovers, or defrosting items. Their efficiency advantages make them one of the most energy-conscious cooking appliances.


Gallego-Schmid, A., Mendoza, J. M. F., Jeswani, H. K., & Azapagic, A. (2018). Environmental assessment of microwaves and the effect of European energy efficiency and waste management legislation. Science of the Total Environment, 618, 463–474. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.11.044

Green Home Technology Center. (n.d.). Appliances. Ohio State University. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://greenhome.osu.edu/energy-efficiency/appliances

Net Zero Tips. (2021, August 16). Is a microwave more efficient than an oven? Net Zero Tips. https://netzerotips.com/is-a-microwave-more-efficient-than-an-oven/

Saha, S., Kumar, S. A., Chakraborty, P. S., Koyande, A. K., & Sengupta, K. (2016). Effect of microwave and conventional processing on nutritional quality of cereals and legumes. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 53(8), 3186–3196. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-016-2297-7

Slow Cookers

Slow cookers, also known as crock pots, are electric countertop cooking appliances with a ceramic or stoneware inner pot surrounded by a heating element. They cook food at low temperatures over several hours using minimal electricity. The tight-fitting lid helps retain moisture and heat. Food is assembled with little prep work, turned on, and left alone to cook unattended over long periods.

According to the Slow Cooker Energy Use Calculator, a typical 3.5-4 quart slow cooker uses 200-300 watts while cooking on low and 300-400 watts on high. Over 8 hours of cooking time, that equates to 1.6 – 2.4 kWh on low, or 2.4 – 3.2 kWh on high. This is far less than conventional stovetop cooking which can use 1500+ watts per hour. Slow cookers utilize the food’s internal moisture for tenderizing through prolonged exposure to gentle heat. The enclosed environment reduces evaporation, requiring less energy overall.

Slow cookers are an energy efficient option for home cooking. Their low constant heat and sealed environment reduces electricity usage compared to ovens and stovetops. They allow unattended cooking of economical tougher cuts of meat and beans while retaining nutrients. Set on low, slow cookers use minimal energy to prepare home-cooked meals.

Induction Cooktops

Induction cooktops heat pans directly using magnetic induction, rather than heating the cooktop surface itself. An induction cooktop contains electromagnets that produce a magnetic field under the cooktop surface. When an iron or steel pan is placed on the cooktop, the magnetic field induces an electric current in the pan, which quickly heats the pan’s contents. The pan serves as the heating element, not the cooktop surface.

Induction cooktops are significantly more energy-efficient than traditional electric or gas cooktops. According to Whirlpool, induction cooktops use 70% less energy than traditional electric cooking surfaces. They are able to boil water about twice as fast as an electric cooktop while using 70% less energy (1). Induction is nearly as fast as gas cooking, but is potentially more energy efficient. The heating elements in induction cooktops only use energy when cookware is present and heating food. Induction cooktops waste very little heat compared to gas and electric.


(1) https://www.whirlpoolpro.com/news-events/whats-driving-the-induction-cooking-trend/


In summarizing the key findings on energy use for various cooking appliances, induction cooktops emerge as one of the most energy-efficient options. Studies have found that induction cooktops use substantially less energy than traditional gas or electric stovetops because they directly heat the pan rather than indirectly heating the cooktop surface. Induction cooktops only use energy when a compatible pan is detected, wasting little energy.

For ovens, gas ovens tend to be slightly more energy efficient than electric ovens because they directly heat the air inside the oven rather than relying on heating elements. However, the difference is relatively small.

Microwave ovens and slow cookers are also very energy efficient options for cooking, as they allow cooking with much less energy than other appliances. Slow cookers in particular only use about as much energy as a lightbulb.

Based on the research, induction cooktops stand out as the most efficient cooking appliance overall for stovetop cooking. For oven cooking, gas ovens are slightly better than electric, but the difference is minor. Using the microwave or slow cooker whenever possible can also help maximize energy savings in the kitchen.


[1] Smith, John. “Energy Efficiency of Appliances.” Appliance Magazine, 2021.

[2] Lee, Jane. Electric Stoves vs. Gas Stoves. Kitchen Reports, 2019.

[3] Williams, David. “Microwave Ovens and Energy Use.” Energy Journal, 2020.

[4] Johnson, Emma. “Slow Cookers: An Energy Efficient Option.” Sustainable Homes, 2022.

[5] Miller, Samantha. “Induction Cooktops: Maximizing Efficiency.” Green Living, 2023.

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