Are you wondering what type of cooking top or range is best for your new kitchen? Are you thinking of replacing your old gas stove with an electric stove? This is a perfect time to take a closer look at why many homeowners have been switching to induction cooking.

How does induction cooking work?

Instead of using a flame or an electrical heating element, induction cooking heats the cookware directly by magnetic induction. The power of the induction technology comes from an electromagnetic field generated by coiled copper wire under the glass-ceramic cooking surface. The magnetic field creates an electrical current directly in the cookware, causing it to heat up. Thus, induction technology allows for faster cooking because it eliminates the intermediate step of heating up a burner, which then transfers the heat to the cookware and its contents. When you remove the pot or pan from the induction range cooktop, the heat generation stops.

Cookware containing ferromagnetic iron and having a magnetic bottom will usually work with induction cooking, e.g. cast iron, porcelain enamel on metal, carbon steel and stainless based cooking vessel. If a magnet sticks firmly to your cookware’s bottom, it is suitable for induction cooking. Note that on some induction ranges the magnetic coil elements have different diameters, and work only for pots at least as big as that element. As for the ovens in induction ranges, they bake and broil the same as traditional electric ovens.

Since induction creates heat directly in the cookware, food cooks faster. For example, it takes about half the time to boil water than it would on a normal gas burner. It is also more energy efficient because less waste heat is generated. An induction stovetop offers responsive temperature control that regular electric cooking surfaces do not. Induction cooktop power ratings are generally quoted for power delivered to the cookware. With a gas cooktop, power ratings are specified in terms of gas use, but gas is much less efficient. It was reported by the Electric Power Research Institute that energy transfer to food with induction can be up to 90 percent, compared to about 74 percent with traditional electric burner and 40 percent on a gas burner.

Did you know that burning natural gas produces a mix of air pollutants, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide? Burning gas inside the house releases these compounds which negatively affect indoor air quality. For example, nitrogen dioxide has been shown to increase the risk of asthma or exacerbate this respiratory condition. Children are especially susceptible to the effects of nitrogen dioxide. Hence, proper ventilation is important if you use gas for cooking. There is also a risk of gas leaks if a burner is not properly shut off. Therefore, homeowners should install carbon monoxide monitors if they use gas stoves.

If you would like to reduce the amount of climate warming pollution you contribute to the world, cooking with an induction cooktop is one way to make a difference. By reducing the market demand for natural gas, its production would decrease. Concomitantly, methane emitted into the atmosphere during natural gas production would also decrease. This greenhouse gas helps accelerate global warming that leads to sea-level rise, extreme storms and flooding, as well as straining our ecosystems to adapt. So, switching to induction cooking would help to meet our climate goals and benefit us all.

Ms. Ling is a member of the Falmouth Energy Committee.