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Fossil-fuel-free cooking.

As an energy efficiency and renewable energy consultant and the author of The Homeowner's Energy Handbook (available on Page 96), I'm always looking for practical ways to be more energy-efficient. The cost of induction burners has finally come down enough that I recently bought a unit to try out. After a week of testing, the numbers are in.

The switch to cooking on an induction burner took some getting used to for me, a longtime gas range cook. It only works with pots that are magnetic, but I like that it's fast and that I can dial in the temperature fairly tightly. Of course, I didn't trust any of the ad hype, so I got out the meters and the spreadsheet. Here are the results of a comparison I did of the energy usage of a gas range and induction burner.

Gas range burner, 7,000 British thermal units (Btu) per hour. Time to boil 1 quart of 60-degree-Fahrenheit water was 8 minutes and 30 seconds, consuming 992 Btu of heating energy (1 Btu is approximately equivalent to the heat released by burning a single wooden kitchen match).

Induction cooker. Using the same pot and the same temperature and quantity of water, the burner used 1,300 watts at its highest setting and took 5 minutes and 50 seconds to bring the water to boil. This works out to 0.126 kilowatt-hour of electricity and is equivalent to 430 Btu of heating energy.

If there was a way to boil a quart of water with 100 percent efficiency, the energy required would be about 317 Btu. This gives us a way to calculate the efficiency of each unit.

The induction cooker is 74 percent efficient, while the gas range comes in at 32 percent. The induction cooker transferred much more heating energy to the pot, was 32 percent faster, and consumed 57 percent less energy.

Because I'm off-grid and utilize solar energy, induction will be my go-to cooking method when sunshine is ample, offering an option for fossil-fuel-free cooking!

Paul Scheckel

Calais, Vermont

Caption: If charities that pick up firewood don't exist in your area, consider advertising free wood on websites such as www.Freecycle.orgor

Caption: Induction burners heat only the pan, leaving the surrounding cooktop relatively cool.

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Title Annotation:Country Lore: Readers' Tips to Live By
Author:Scheckel, Paul
Publication:Mother Earth News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2017
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