Ovens and stoves last for many years, so their energy efficiency is important. For example, gas burners with electric ignition use half the energy of burners with pilot lights. According to information from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEE), it’s not only what we chose, it’s how we use it.
For electric cooktops, a wide array of burner types are available and the fancier solid disk, halogen or induction elements are hard to justify on energy savings alone. The most cost-effective solution is a plain-jane electric coil or radiant element with the savings invested in better cookware, ACEE advises.
Cookware plays an important role in energy efficiency. On the range, copper-bottom pans not only cook more evenly, they heat faster than ordinary pans. According to ACEE, the ideal pan has a slightly concave bottom. As it heats on an electric burner, the metal on the bottom actually flattens out a little and makes better contact with the element. Good contact can cut energy use by as much as half.
In the oven, glass or ceramic pans are usually superior to metal. Glass or ceramic cooks food just as fast but at oven temperatures 25 degrees lower than with a metal pan.
If you’re shopping for a new oven, be aware that convection ovens are usually more energy efficient because the circulation of heated air around the food reduces cooking time and temperatures.