how to assess energy efficiency of electric ranges?

andreagbJune 20, 2006

please feel free to let me know if this is an OT post. I wasn't sure where else to go.

DH and I are about to buy an electric range: no EnergyStar designations, and evidently the FTC doesn't require those energy output sheets for ranges, so I'm not sure how to begin my research. A brief Googling didn't help. Suggestions?

A related question: our toaster oven blew out at about the same time as the old range. I would opt for a double-oven electric range (Maytag Gemini) and a small toaster on the countertop for toast, since it seems wasteful to heat up the entire smaller oven of the Gemini for toast. But I want the double oven for holidays and for baking/broiling small amounts in the smaller oven (1.22 cubic feet) rather than heating the larger oven (4 cf). Also, the Gemini has a convection lower oven, which I think is better energy-wise than a regular oven, yes?

DH wants to get another toaster oven w/broiling capacity -- which would be too small for baking a single pan of muffins or other small loads -- plus a single-oven electric range. He'd probably be OK w/convection too.

What would you all advise w/regard to this question?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and recommendations.

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RCMJr

.

Energy Star ratings effectively give energy usage, to perform a given "task". Cool a room, heat x gallons of water, deliver so many BTU's of heat; etc. Ranges are hard to classify in that way. In particluar; electric stuff is usually pretty close to 100% efficient . . there is no wasted combustion by-products and associated heat loss as there is with gas / LP / oil fired stuff. Ranges basically use as much as you use them.

Because they are ~ 100% efficient, and don't produce combustion gasses however; doesn't mean they are a panacea of clean living. Every watt they use, produces some kind of waste, somewhere; at a power plant. It just doesn't happen to be in your back yard.

Believe you'll be hard-pressed to find any info on which brand / style is more efficient than another because of the nature of the beast.

As far as energy usage goes; you will use less ( and probably get better toast ) by getting a toaster vs "toaster oven" . . . whether that makes more energy sense because now you'll have to use the big oven for stuff normally done in the toaster oven; dunno . . . .

Bob

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 5:55AM
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jxbrown

Insulation effects energy efficiency in ovens. "Self cleaning" ovens are generally more heavily insulated than non-self cleaning types so they are correspondingly more efficient. Induction cooktops heat only the pan and are more efficient (~90% vs ~55%) than conventional electric cooktops.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 5:26PM
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andreagb

Thanks for these posts. After I wrote mine, I did some research of my own... seems the best way to save electricity while cooking would be a solar oven (which, in New Mexico, is eminently practical, and I should really look up some prototypes... any website suggestions?), and gas after that. Unfortunately our kitchen would have to be entirely knocked apart and rewired to put in a gas stove. Not an option.

Induction would be ideal, but no one makes an induction range that I can find (we are also limited by the existing layout and do not plan to put in separate wall ovens and a cooktop.).

So given that we're stuck w/electric, the Maytag double oven seems to be the best bet. Both ovens are insulated, as opp to the GE Profile double-oven range, which someone on the kitchen forum described as having a warming drawer that's as flimsy as the standard storage drawer. (The toaster oven almost totally lacks insulation. I shudder to think about the heat we've been pumping into the air as we broil in that thing.)

How about convection, y'all? Worth the extra $300 in terms of an investment in energy efficiency?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 11:39PM
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jxbrown

There are no induction ranges available in the U.S., but you could mount an induction cooktop over a single wall mount oven. That's roughly what I have although I opted to put drawers under the cooktop and install the oven at the end of the run. If you've read the induction threads on the Appliances, you'll know that we induction users are crazy about our cooktops. I live in an under insulated mid-century modern house with a large west facing window. It is a warm room and the cooktop is a huge improvement.

Gas cooktops are even less efficient than radiant electric, they just cost less to run because gas is currently cheaper. Their only real advantage is their responsiveness -- which doesn't equal the responsiveness of my induction baby.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 1:24AM
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jasonphx

There are in fact induction ranges available in the US, although many of them cost-prohibitive). Induction cooking is the most efficient cooking method as there are no transfer losses (ie. an element that heats up then transfers the heat to the cooking vessel). For info on how power is used in cooking, go to www.theinductionsite.com.

Late last year Sears began selling the most reasonably priced induction range (http://theinductionsite.com/hob-makers/kenmore-induction-hobs.shtml or http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product.do?vertical=APPL&pid=02242800000&subcat=Cooktops) in the USA. I just wish I had known about induction before I remodeled my kitchen 2 years ago. I have, however, bought a portable induction "hob" (like the ones used by hotels in their "made to order" open cooking tables), just to try the technology out. I'm able to boil water almost as fast as my halogen cooktop, but only a standard plug-in to a 110v/15a circuit.

I'm happy to see that your trying to get the most energy efficient appliance possible.
Jason

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 1:02AM
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andreagb

Hmmm. Induction sounds really interesting. With two small children, I'm particularly intrigued by a technology that seems a lot safer than a standard cooktop -- the surface doesn't get as hot, yes?

Jxbrown, could you tell me more about how you rigged up your induction cooktop plus single wall-mount oven? I'm guessing the expense will make this prohibitive for us (as opposed to the $1500 Maytag range, which already seems over the moon to me, the Kenmore cooktop is $1700, plus the cost of the oven and the probable need for tinkering to connect it all -- we are electrically clueless ) but I'd at least be interested to learn more.

TIA!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 2:13PM
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jxbrown

It really wouldn't be hard to substitute an induction cooktop and a single wall oven for a range. In fact a cooktop/oven combination is a pretty common arrangement. You need to select an oven whose manufacturer says it is okay for undercounter installation (or face potential warranty problems). The Kenmore cooktop is thinner than most countertops, so clearance won't be a problem. My oven is a Kenmore Elite made by Whirlpool.

My 1964 house already had a 40 amp/220 volt circuit for its cooktop and a separate circuit for its original double oven, however, if you have a range, you may only have one circuit and running a second one would probably cost around $300 (in Southern California -- YMMV). Several people have hooked their cooktops up to existing 30 amp circuits without trouble since it never actually runs at max power on all four "hobs".

Note that the top does get hot from contact with the hot pan. However, I never hesitate to pick up spilled items from active "hobs" (precious, but you can't call them "burners" either) with my bare fingers -- try that on your range. Spills can be wiped up while you work and nothing ever gets burned onto the top so no scrubbing or scraping. It shuts itself off, if it can't sense the pan after a few seconds.

The Kenmore cooktop is frequently on sale. I paid $1350 last summer.

Any more questions?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 8:28PM
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