Fighting Climate Change in the Kitchen

With more cities banning the use of natural gas in new buildings, cooks are discovering the benefits of electric appliances.

2 minute read

December 30, 2021, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Natural gas stove with blue flame

Ivan Radic / Gas stove with flame

As cities in California and around the country enact restrictions on natural gas in an effort to reduce emissions and fight climate change, cooks are—sometimes reluctantly—looking to electric appliances to replicate the traditional stove. But the transition isn't easy. As Evan Halper writes,

Swapping a gas clothes dryer, water heater or furnace for an electric one may not strike most consumers as a hefty sacrifice. But even some of the most progressive West Coasters bristle at the thought of giving up cooking with fire, with many home chefs recalling bad experiences with earlier electric stoves. The affinity Americans have for their gas stoves is the best hope many gas companies have for keeping customers hooked on their pipelines.

While the gas industry denies any health risks, experts say gas stoves have been shown to degrade indoor air quality and increase the risk of asthma in children. "A UCLA study funded by the Sierra Club raised similar alarms, finding unnervingly elevated rates of nitrogen dioxide — a driver of asthma — in homes where gas stoves and ovens were in use without an exhaust fan running."

Halper describes the gas industry's efforts to push back on this messaging and fight natural gas bans. Meanwhile, electrification advocates are working to shift the emotional connection people have to cooking with fire. Halper compares it to the early days of electric vehicle adoption, "when embrace of Tesla roadsters by early adopters who could otherwise afford the finest combustion engine Porsche or Mercedes sparked a shift in consumer opinion."

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