The Cooking Debate: The Most Efficient Appliance?

The Washington Post

We’ve been trying to cook more at home. It’s seems to be better for the environment and our belly. But what’s the best and most efficient cooking method – the conventional oven or the microwave. With ever evolving technology it can get really confusing…According to an August 2009 article, The Washing Post states, “As a general rule, microwaves are more eco-friendly than conventional ovens.” Conventional ovens operate at a higher wattage, about 3,000, compared with 600 to 1,650 for a microwave. Here are some points from the article highlighting the differences:

Electric Oven
• Any oven powered by electricity, whether or not it's a microwave, is going to cook food more efficiently than a gas-powered appliance. About 12 to 14 percent of the energy drawn by a standard electric oven goes toward cooking your food. Still,
• When that was increased to four portions, however, the oven used only 2.5 times as much energy per serving. When the meals get big enough -- a pot roast plus vegetables, for example -- you're better off skipping the microwave altogether.

Gas Oven
• With a gas-powered oven, about 6 percent of the energy goes toward cooking the food.
• However, when compared with conventional electric ovens, gas-powered ovens are usually considered more efficient overall because there are significant energy losses associated with generating electricity and then transmitting it to your home.

Microwave
• Microwaves direct about 60 percent of their energy toward cooking.
• Greatest energy savings are achieved with a microwave when cooking small portions.
• Microwaves produce a lot less indoor air pollution than other cooking methods.
• They don't heat up your house like an oven, which can result in lower air conditioning energy usage.
• Over its lifetime, the average microwave will use as much energy in standby mode as it will in cooking your food.

Overall, compared to other daily energy expenditures, cooking accounts for very little of your energy usage, an average of just 3% according to the Department of Energy. For more info, including ways to save with either appliance check out the full Washington Post article.

Related Posts:
Microwave Vs. Stove: What's the Greener Cooking Option?
Green Kitchen: Try a Convection Toaster Oven

(Image: Flickr user chez_sugi licensed for use under Creative Commons)

Originally posted at Re-Nest/Rachel Wray

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