By now you have likely heard about the national debate that erupted in early January over gas stoves and whether or not they might be banned (if you haven’t, you can get caught up here).
There are two big problems when it comes to cooking with gas in your home. The first is that fossil gas is mostly methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas and a driver of the climate crisis. The second, and for many, the more tangible issue is that burning methane in our homes creates pollution that when inhaled can cause respiratory problems and other health issues. Peer-reviewed research recently found that about one in eight cases of childhood asthma in the U.S. could be attributed to indoor air pollution resulting from the burning of fossil gas in kitchens. Additional studies have detected toxic gases including benzene and other volatile organic chemicals leaking from stoves into kitchens.
But despite what you might be hearing on Twitter, gas stoves are not getting banned anytime soon. Even if you would like to get rid of yours, the process can be expensive and time-consuming, especially if it requires electrical upgrades (which may cause additional delays, given the country’s electrician shortage). So if you are stuck at home with a gas stove for now, here are some ways you can still begin to electrify your cooking and reduce indoor air pollution.
1. Turn on the gas less
Are you turning on your gas to make yourself a cup of tea, warm leftovers or toast some bread? All of those tasks, and many more, can be done with other kitchen appliances that you might already have. For example, you can use an electric kettle to boil water — it’s much faster than heating up water on the stove, and if you are an avid tea or coffee drinker, it will reduce the amount of time your gas is on over the course of a day.
Other equipment can also supplant gas. Plug-in appliances such as air fryers and Instant Pots are great timesavers, especially if you are cooking for just one or two people — you can make whole meals without having to turn on your stove at all.
And last but not least, there’s the microwave. Though side-eyed by some home cooks, it is an incredibly versatile tool that’s not just for reheating leftovers. And recent research shows that microwaves are also the cheapest way to cook at home. But don’t take it from me. David Chang — chef, Momofuku Restaurant Group founder and producer/star of the Netflix series Ugly Delicious — has been advocating for the trusty microwave for years. “Think of a microwave as a futuristic steamer; that is the way I use it,” says Chang, who has a video series of microwave recipes, and a cookbook to help inspire you to use the microwave in new ways.
2. Improve air quality when the gas is on
A big part of the problem when it comes to indoor air pollution caused by cooking is the lack of proper ventilation in kitchens. If you have a range hood with a duct, it is a good idea to always have it on while you are using the stove, as it can mitigate some of those pollutants in your home. Unfortunately, many of the exhaust systems in U.S. homes today are simply recirculating air rather than connecting with a vent to deposit pollutants outside. So while helpful, just turning on your exhaust hood may not be a complete solution. Consider opening windows, if the weather permits, in order to improve the airflow while you cook (if you don’t have any windows in your kitchen, open them elsewhere in your home).
And you might want to think about getting an air purifier. These fans with filters are especially helpful in the winter and summer months if you keep windows closed while using heating or AC. An air purifier can help filter out things like pollen and other allergens, but also, depending on the type, it can capture some of the pollutants from your gas stove. Here’s a guide with some points to consider before buying one.
3. Give induction a try
Induction stoves are becoming popular as more and more people begin to recognize them as a crucial technology for electrifying homes. Induction uses electricity to create magnetic fields that heat up your pots and pans, and it does this faster and more efficiently than gas burners or older electric stoves. Another benefit is that it does not generate ambient heat, which means you won’t be heating up your home when cooking on hot summer days.
But as mentioned, installing an induction stove can be time-consuming and costly (though the Inflation Reduction Act includes a rebate of up to $840 for induction stoves and additional rebates for electrical work. You can read more about how these deductions apply to you here). The good news is that you don’t have to commit to a big purchase to try out the technology. You can get a portable induction cooking plate that plugs into your wall outlet. That’s a great, hassle-free option that still gives you a taste of what might just be the future of cooking.
A common concern is that not all cookware works on induction stoves — most nonstick pans won’t, and neither will glass. Fortunately, cast-iron, enameled cast-iron, and stainless steel and blue carbon steel pots and pans work just fine. Canary Media’s very own Julian Spector tried out one of these induction plates for himself — and you can watch a video about his experience: