With Talk of Nationwide Bans, Are We Saying Goodbye to the Gas Stove?
The decision on whether your next appliance will be gas or electric might not be much of a decision at all.
Indoor air pollution is at the heart of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s proposal to ban gas stoves nationwide, according to a Bloomberg interview with an agency commissioner. The appliance has been found to emit small amounts of methane and other harmful gasses into the home, even when not in use. Exposure to such pollutants can lead to various health conditions, and has recently been linked to childhood asthma.
Don’t worry, the federal government isn’t coming after your existing gas stove. Rather, the proposed ban would follow suit of several major cities across the country that have already outlawed new installations of natural gas-powered appliances for reasons that pertain to climate change.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that 13 percent of the total planet-warming greenhouse emissions produced by the United States in 2020 came from residential and commercial settings. Furthermore, about 79 percent of those emissions came from the combustion of natural gas—the fuel used in appliances.
To Ban or Not to Ban
Already, cities such as New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle have enacted some form of ban on natural gas hookups in new homes and buildings as a way to slow climate change. Some of these bans will take place in the coming years.
Shelia Foster, an environmental law expert at Georgetown Law, told CNN that cities moving away from natural gas can make a significant impact on the climate. “Natural gas bans are kind of low-hanging fruit,” Foster told the news outlet.
But many states are saying “not so fast” as they work to hamstring local governments’ ability to limit consumers’ choice of appliance type. At least 20 states have already passed preemption laws that block cities from banning natural gas in new appliances
“This is not really a climate solution,” Daniel Lapato, senior director of state affairs with the American Gas Association, an advocacy group, told Pew, a non-partisan organization that works to improve public policy. “When you start eliminating these options, you have to look at the cost implications to the homeowner.”
Gas companies are working to produce a more renewable natural gas that is methane-based and produced from other sources such as farms and landfills, Lapato added. He said laws to ban natural gas appliances would hinder these efforts.
There’s also the issue of how electricity is produced for our homes. Currently, most of the electricity here in the United States comes from fossil fuels. Electricity from carbon-free sources such as solar, hydropower, wind, and nuclear make up just 40 percent of the nation’s electricity supply, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In 2021, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order calling for 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE) by 2030.
So What’s the Alternative?
Those looking for alternatives to the gas stove might want to look at the advantages of electric stoves. For example, electric models, including induction, are more energy-efficient. Consider this: With an electric range, 74 percent of the energy produced is transferred to food, compared with just 40 percent when it comes to its gas counterpart. Induction cooktops are an even better option, with up to 90 percent of the energy transferred to food.
Electric appliances are also safer than gas. While electric stoves don’t completely eliminate the risk of burns or fires, the lack of gas means there’s no risk of major gas leaks due to an improperly installed gas stove.
When it comes to cost, however, natural gas is generally less expensive than electricity. A gas stove can cost 10 to 30 percent less to operate than an electric one, depending on where you live.
The Bottom Line
For those who live in a city that’s enacted a ban on natural gas appliances or will in the years to come, that may mean more money out of your pocket when it’s time to update your stove or other appliances. That’s because if you were to update your gas stove to electric, you’ll likely have to undergo some fairly significant retrofits to make the change.
In response to the expense of switching, there are some incentives in the works. For example, the California Public Utilities Commission offers incentives of up to $4,885 for residents to switch from gas water heaters to electric heat pump water heaters.
The federal Inflation Reduction Act can also help. The legislation calls for billions of dollars in funding for states to provide rebates for the purchase of new electric appliances. Consumers who purchase an electric stove could receive up to $840 in rebates and another $500 to help offset the cost of converting from gas to electric. How much you qualify for depends on where you live and how much you earn.
To see if and how much you qualify for, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. The website tracks credits and tax incentives related to energy by state.