As British Columbians look for ways to reduce their household climate footprint, they may wish to take a second look at their appliances.

Though many British Columbians are very concerned about their own home’s carbon footprint, a new report concludes that many residents are needlessly adding to that total by using natural gas appliances such as gas cookstoves and fireplaces.

BC Hydro commissioned the new report, Home On the Range: How Natural Gas Appliances Are Quietly Fueling Carbon Footprints, to track public attitudes towards natural gas appliances.

The researchers found that 46 per cent of British Columbians said they prefer using a gas stove over electric. Those that prefer gas say it is more responsive, cooks more evenly, or cooks faster, while 15 per cent said the blue flame of natural gas is “more luxurious.”

However, electric appliances such as induction cooktops can outperform gas on all of those metrics—even on social status!

Natural gas consumption is on the rise. Over the past 10 years, researchers have found a 47 per cent increase in natural gas cooking appliances in townhomes and detached homes. Natural gas fireplaces are also increasingly popular. Fifty-six per cent of British Columbians said they prefer a gas fireplace over electric, the study reports.

Natural gas appliances contribute about half a tonne per year to a household’s greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of driving a fossil fuel powered car over 2,000 kilometers. A recent Stanford University study found that emissions from gas stoves in U.S. homes have the same climate impact as about 500,000 gasoline-powered cars.

Electricity is a far cleaner option. Ninety-eight per cent of the electricity BC Hydro generates in the province comes from clean and renewable resources.

Some believe that gas ovens are more efficient. In fact, convection ovens cook food more quickly and at a lower temperature. Further, natural gas cooktops tend to have hotspots and uneven heat.

Induction cooking is significantly more efficient than natural gas. 

Multiple side-by-side video demonstrations have shown that the same amount of water at the same starting temperature will boil almost twice as quickly on an induction cooktop than a gas flame. 

Though the BC Hydro study doesn’t mention health impacts, there are serious demonstrated health risks associated with cooking with natural gas. As we note on our “What’s Wrong With Gas?” page, natural-gas kitchen appliances pollute your home with nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an air contaminant. If you cook with gas and have a child with asthma, your stovetop could be exacerbating their attacks.