It’s pretty daunting to buy any large kitchen appliance. These things are costly, and whatever you buy you’re likely to be living with it for years to come. You might think that adding in the consideration of eco-friendliness would make things even harder, but the fact is that this is a great way to refine your options and pick an energy efficient, long-lasting, attractive and economical new oven, stovetop (cooktop), or all in one cooking range. And, given that kitchen appliances account for around 10 percent of energy use in the home and of all the major home appliances, a gas range is likely to last the longest (around 15 years), buying an energy efficient range is a one-time action with huge long-term benefits.
Chances are, even if your diet is healthful and organic, you might still be cooking your meals using a problematic oven or stovetop. Some ovens feature the same nasty chemicals found in conventional non-stick pans and pots, and some are terribly energy inefficient, with a high cost to you and the environment. The good news is that things have improved in recent years, with many stovetops and ovens now available that include recycled and recyclable components, greater energy efficiency, and fewer toxic chemicals.
So, if you’re in the market for a new stovetop or oven, for a new property or to replace a broken model, here are some questions to consider:
- What materials is the oven made from?
- Are the materials recycled and/or recyclable?
- Has the oven been treated with toxic chemicals?
- Does the manufacturing and/or use of the cookware harm humans, other animals, and/or the environment?
- How energy efficient is the oven?
- What fuel does the appliance use?
Size is another factor to consider when buying a stove or oven. Most standard stoves, ovens, and ranges measure 24 inches across, with larger sizes increasing by 6 inches. Larger stoves can measure up to 60 inches wide. Extra capacity is certainly handy when baking or entertaining, but if you don’t tend to use all the space in your oven, consider buying a smaller model. This will be more energy efficient and cheaper. And, be wary of manufacturers’ claims when it comes to an oven’s capacity. Some include the space underneath the lowest rack position, which isn’t usable. Smaller ovens have a capacity of around 2 cubic feet, while larger models have a capacity of almost 4 cubic feet.
Ovens come with and without warming drawers below the main oven, and some are dual ovens, with a smaller oven space above the main larger oven, and the ability to set each at its own temperature. Stovetops are also no longer limited to the standard four burners. Many options now have six or more differently sized burners, bridge points, cast iron griddles or grills, and other options and accessories.
Buying a separate cooktop and oven means you typically have more customizability and can choose to replace only what’s no longer working for you. As a general rule, pro-series ovens and ranges are more expensive and look fantastic, as they’re made with high quality stainless steel, ceramic, and glass. Unless you’re particularly invested in a certain kitchen aesthetic, however, pro products may be more expense than they’re worth as these tend to perform just the same as standard models.
The type of stovetop or oven you choose will depend on the fuel sources available in your house and your desire and ability to install new power or gas lines. Electric ovens and ranges are less expensive than induction and gas options as a rule, but induction cooking is more energy efficient than gas and electric, and arguably safer. We’ll discuss this further below.
You’ll also need to know the difference between a freestanding stove and the slide-in and drop-in (built-in) options. As the name suggests, a freestanding stove is a self-contained unit with side panels that stands by itself. A slide-in range stands on the floor but fits between your kitchen cabinets; these don’t have their own outward facing side panels. Drop-in ranges have to be fastened to the sides of your cabinets. High-low ranges are also available, with a microwave at eye-level and a standard range below.
Another feature to look for when buying an oven or range with the controls on the front panel is Control Lockout, especially if you have young children in your home. This lets you temporarily disable the oven controls, so it can’t be turned on accidentally by busy little fingers. Hot Surface warning lights are also a good safety feature for radiant electric stovetops. But, if safety is a concern, an induction stove is certainly your best option for minimizing risk as the stove itself doesn’t heat up.
Before you check out the curated ovens in our ecoHome Directory, here’s a quick overview of the most common concerns with these household appliances, and a quick and mostly painless discussion of the physics of cooking and why this matters for energy efficiency in the kitchen.
Our top picks for eco-friendly Ovens and Stovetops
|Product||Highlights||Leaf Score||Product Link|
GE Profile PHS930 RangeRead the Review
| ||View on Amazon|
Kenmore Elite 95073 rangeRead the Review
| ||View on Amazon|
LG LSE4617STRead the Review
| ||Visit Site|
GE Profile™ Series 30″ Slide-In Electric Double Oven Convection Range PS960BLTSRead the Review
| ||View on Amazon|
Whirlpool WGE745C0F rangeRead the Review
| ||View on Amazon|
GE Cafe CT9070SHSS French Door single wall ovenRead the Review
| ||View on Amazon|
Smeg SOU330X1 Classic Aesthetic 30-Inch Stainless Steel Electric Multifunction Wall OvenRead the Review
| ||View on Amazon|
Smeg SIMU530B 30 Inch Electric Induction Smoothtop Style CooktopRead the Review
| ||View on Amazon|
Bosch 800 Series NIT8068SUC electric smoothtop & induction cooktopRead the Review
| ||Visit Site|
Bosch Benchmark NITP668UC 36” Induction StovetopRead the Review
| ||Visit Site|
GE Monogram ZHU36RDJBB 36” Induction StovetopRead the Review
| ||Visit Site|
GE PHP9030DJBB Profile 30″ Black Electric Induction CooktopRead the Review
| ||View on Amazon|
Smeg SIMU536B 36 Inch Electric Induction Smoothtop Style CooktopRead the Review
| ||Visit Site|
Things to consider in Ovens and Stovetops
Each year, household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices kills close to 4 million people. This is mainly related to the use of solid fuels and kerosene in countries without a stable and widespread electricity supply. Household air pollution from these types of cooking causes a variety of health issues, including stroke, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. And, if you think you’re immune because you use an electric stove, you’re not.
It’s not just non-stick pans that you need to worry about when you’re shopping for your eco-friendly kitchenware. Some ovens also have residues of insulation resin from the factory that have to be burnt off before first using the oven. This initial ‘burn-off’ can release toxic fumes that can kill pet birds and cause nausea, headaches, and breathing difficulties in humans, especially in vulnerable seniors and children.
Thankfully, Teflon-type coatings are not typically present in ovens, for the simple reason that these would degrade very rapidly at regular cooking temperatures. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), the chemical used in Teflon, has a melting point of 620°F. Self-cleaning (pyrolytic) ovens can reach 950°F. As such, PTFE would simply melt. Any oven made with a PTFE coating would, therefore, be ruined by regular use, forcing companies to recall their products.
So, while some rumors abound regarding the use of PTFE non-stick coatings in ovens, it seems extremely unlikely that this is a real concern. However, some accessories sold with ovens, such as drip-catching oven liners, may contain non-stick coatings, so be sure to check before using these and remove them before using an oven’s self-cleaning mode.
Most self-cleaning ovens have a pyrolytic ground coat, with oven walls coated with heat- and acid-resistant porcelain enamel. At a temperature around 932 °F (500 °C), anything stuck to the wall or floor of the oven will turn to ash and release fumes. These fumes can contain a variety of nasty chemicals, and the ovens themselves are known to release acrolein and formaldehyde, which is why it is a good idea to keep all members of the household, human and non-human, away from a self-cleaning oven and to ventilate the kitchen using extraction fans where possible. Or, ideally, don’t use this setting.
The debate over the merits of self-cleaning ovens is a complicated one. For some, the convenience trumps any concerns over the release of nasty gases and the excessive use of energy that goes into maintaining such high temperatures for several hours. However, some of the chemicals used to manually clean a regular oven are also downright nasty, releasing their own toxic fumes as you scrub away at stubborn, burnt-on food residues.
The best option might be to purchase a self-cleaning oven, which is guaranteed to have better insulation (and, therefore, better energy efficiency) than a standard oven (to reduce the possibility of fire) and to never use the self-cleaning mode. Using the self-cleaning mode may also shorten the life of your oven or range, making it much less eco-friendly.
So, instead of relying on high heat to get your oven clean, it’s best to use natural cleaning products and a ‘steam clean’ at a lower temperature. Do this regularly and it will help keep your oven in good condition. However you choose to do it, though, it is important to regularly clean your oven. This helps keep surfaces shiny to reflect heat back for optimal efficiency and helps avoid erosion of the oven interior that might affect performance, leading to you needing to replace the oven prematurely.
It’s also worth noting that the same resin residue sometimes found in a new oven might also be present on glass-enamel cooktops. This means that it’s a good idea to take the same precautions when first using such a cooktop, i.e. keeping the kitchen well ventilated and having vulnerable members of the household out of the home until the fumes clear.
Indoor Air Pollution and Cooking
The materials used in manufacturing a cooking appliance certainly make a difference to the chances of toxic fumes being released into our homes. However, the simple act of cooking, and the fuel source used, also matter for indoor air quality. Without adequate ventilation, cooking fumes and particulate matter are trapped in the home, exposing us to a range of potentially hazardous chemicals and compounds.
Electric coil burners in stoves, ovens, and toasters can release fine and ultrafine particles that can irritate lungs. Meanwhile, gas stoves and ovens generate nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and formaldehyde, and even the pilot light can be a source of nitrogen dioxide (R).
Add to that the fact that burning organic matter when you fry, boil, or sauté food releases acrolein, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and particulate matter (R), and a raw food diet starts to look pretty good. The solution, though, is not to stop cooking. Instead, your best bet is to prioritize a well-designed range hood to help clear indoor air pollution, whatever appliance you use. As we’ll see in a moment, switching a gas stove to an induction stove is also a good idea to keep fumes to a minimum.
One question often asked when buying a new stove, oven, or range, is whether it’s necessary to do an initial ‘burn-off’. This is likely a good idea for every new cooking appliance as it helps to get rid of any residues lingering from the factory. Many times, the initial burn-off will result in some nasty fumes and smells, so you’ll want to ensure as much ventilation as possible and keep any vulnerable members of the household at a safe distance (typically outside, if possible). It’s also smart to clean the oven and/or stovetop before doing the initial burn-off as this can help remove residues to reduce fumes.
Depending on the type of range or oven you’ve purchased, you may choose to use the self-clean option. It’s always best to check the user manual for recommendations, however, as you may be fine just heating the oven to 500 degrees for 50 minutes or so. Be sure to remove racks, unless they are also self-clean racks.
In addition to opening all windows possible, using an effective ventilation hood, and using fans around the house, you might also want to use activated charcoal to absorb airborne toxins while doing a burn-off. Activated charcoal bonds chemically to some of the more noxious chemicals released from factory residues. Sprinkling baking soda on rugs and furniture can also help soak up odors. You can then vacuum up the baking soda after the burn-off smell has dissipated.
Ideally, of course, you’ll be able to find an oven, range, or stovetop that doesn’t contain undesirable chemicals. This can be difficult in the U.S. due to a lack of stringent safety regulations. As such, it is helpful to choose products made by companies based in Europe, where safety checks are more robust and companies tend to be more eco-friendly as a whole.
Gas, Electric, or Induction? Energy-Efficiency in the Eco-Kitchen
A range can have either a single fuel source for both the cooktop and the oven (e.g. an electric cooktop and electric oven), or a dual fuel source (gas oven and electric or induction cooktop). Some cooktops have a mixture of electric and gas burners, but these are rare.
Most people, when buying a new stovetop, have a clear preference for gas, electric, or induction. Often, this is based more on familiarity than on what is energy efficient and healthy.
Which type of stovetop is the most energy efficient and healthy? Let’s look at the pros and cons of the three main types of cooktops: gas, electric, and induction.
The Pros and Cons of Gas Cooking
Gas is often a favorite with keen cooks because it is easier to control temperatures and offers instant heat. You can also easily char foods on a gas stove, which just isn’t an option with electric or induction. Gas is also fairly energy efficient, but you’ll want to look at the British Thermal Unit (BTU) output of your gas stove options; the lower the BTU, the more energy efficient the stove.
While natural gas is a fossil fuel, it may be more environmentally friendly than electricity in most places in the U.S. That’s because most of the electricity in the U.S. comes from coal-burning power plants (which now have much more relaxed emissions restrictions thanks to the current administration).
One major downside of gas cooking, however, is that it seriously compromises indoor air quality, especially if your stove doesn’t have an exhaust hood. Gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO). These gases can present a real problem for anyone with asthma, emphysema, or any respiratory illness or other health issue.
Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University recently developed a simulation model to estimate the likely exposure to noxious gases experienced by different household members when a gas stove is used in a typical fashion. They factored in such things as air flow in the house, outdoor levels of NO2 and CO (HCHO levels are less influenced by outdoor air quality), and even assumptions about the proximity of small children to adults cooking breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Their calculations suggest that gas stoves add 25–33% to indoor NO2 concentrations during summer and 35–39% in winter (because of lower ventilation in winter). Gas stoves were estimated to add 30% to the indoor air concentration in summer and 21% in winter (because CO concentrations are lower outdoor in summer). Gas stoves were estimated to add relatively little to indoor air formaldehyde levels because the major contributors were furniture and building materials (demonstrating the importance of researching these when building and furnishing your ecohome).
Worryingly, the researchers’ model found that household exposure reached and exceeded federal and California state health-based standards when a range hood was not used to vent cooking fumes. During a typical winter week, the researchers noted that 1.7 and 12 million Californians could be exposed to levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide exceeding indoor air quality standards if they didn’t use a venting range hood while cooking. Given the spate of wildfires and outdoor air quality advisories already in effect in the state, this presents a significant public health issue in California. What’s more, small children, aged 0-5 in this model, were most at risk because of likely proximity to a parent or caregiver cooking a meal.
Using a range hood is important, therefore, to maintaining indoor air quality. Thankfully, quieter and more effective hoods are now fairly common, making it more likely that they will be used. And, for anyone wary of using a range hood because it vents warm air outside, you’ll want to look to the Scandinavians for a solution. Heat exchangers are common in Scandinavian countries, with range hoods reducing heat lost to the outdoors while eliminating unwanted fumes. Another good option is to switch a gas stove for an induction stove, thereby eliminating a significant amount of indoor air pollutants from cooking.
If you do decide on a gas stove, opt for a newer model that has an electric ignition. This type of stove uses up to 40 percent less gas than those older models with a continually-burning pilot light (R).
Pros and Cons of Electric Cooking
Using an electric coil stovetop instead of gas can significantly reduce the emission of indoor air pollutants. However, it is still important to use a venting range hood because the simple act of cooking releases particulate matter and gases into the air.
Unfortunately, electric coil stovetops are the worst for energy efficiency, especially if you don’t use pans that match the size of the coils and never clean your grease catchers (the shiny surface reflects heat).
Electric coils or elements transfer heat inefficiently and emit a lot of waste heat. They’re also quite unresponsive, meaning that energy may be wasted as they heat up or cool down before or after cooking. And, if you have pans and pots that aren’t entirely flat on the bottom, there’s a significant energy loss when using electric elements for cooking.
Radiant electric stovetops with ceramic-glass surfaces and halogen elements are a decent choice for energy efficiency as they heat up quickly and are relatively responsive to temperature changes. They’re also fairly easy to clean. But, again, these only work well when there is good contact between the hot glass and a flat-bottomed pan.
The good thing about electric stovetops is that you may be able to choose a renewable energy source to power your stove. This might be the result of installing solar panels on the roof of your home or switching to a green energy provider. This would help reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions and improve outdoor air quality as well as indoor air quality by cooking without gas.
In terms of electric ovens, self-cleaning models are generally more energy-efficient because they have better insulation. That said, if you actually use the self-cleaning mode, this requires significant amounts of energy; any energy savings will be lost if you use the self-cleaning mode more than once a month. To minimize excess energy consumption, run the self-cleaning mode after the oven is already warm from cooking. And, as discussed above, self-cleaning models may emit noxious fumes from both their coatings and from burning foodstuffs.
Convection ovens are also good for reducing energy usage as these use fans to circulate hot air, thereby requiring less time and heat to cook foods.
Pros and Cons of Induction Stovetops
Induction stovetops are, by far, the most energy efficient option for cooking. These elements don’t actually heat up themselves. Instead, the flow of an alternating current (AC) through the ‘element’ creates an electromagnetic field that excites the molecules in ferromagnetic pots and pans placed on top of the glass stovetop. You can learn more about the science of induction here.
Because iron and steel aren’t very good electrical conductors, when their molecules get excited, they heat up, meaning that your pans and pots become the heat source instead of the element below. This means that the cooktop itself stays relatively cool and the heat is isolated to the pan. When the current is turned off, the pan cools very quickly. And, when you turn the current back on, the pan heats up very quickly.
As such, induction cooking is great for safety. You can even place a sheet of paper onto an induction cooktop and it won’t catch fire. Because the glass itself stays cool, this also makes it easier to clean your cooktop (no burnt on food!) and reduces energy waste.
For anyone who hates cooking at the stove in the summer, induction cooking is ideal as it doesn’t warm the air in the kitchen anywhere near as much as a gas or conventional electric stove. This means that you also save on air-conditioning costs and energy usage. Induction cooktops are also a great idea for smaller spaces such as tiny apartments, dorm rooms, office kitchens, boats, or motor homes. This is because they take up very little room and create very little excess heat. Having a single or double portable induction cooktop on hand also means you extend your cooking capacity should you need to cook up a large feast for a party.
Other benefits of induction cooktops include easy programming – you can set some stoves to start, stop, and change temperatures at pre-programmed times and can even program elements to turn down the temperature when they detect water boiling (through vibrations) or when a pan is removed.
Research clearly shows that induction cooktops are more energy efficient: gas cooktops are about 40 percent efficient; electric-coil and standard smooth-top electric cooktops are about 74 percent efficient; and induction cooktops are 84 percent efficient.
It’s also faster to heat food or liquids on an induction stove versus a gas stove (5.8 seconds vs 8.3 seconds to boil water in one experiment). And, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that while burning natural gas is marginally better than burning coal (to power an electric stovetop) in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, induction beats both hands-down (propane gas is the worst offender).
In the water boiling experiment just mentioned, natural gas released 1.16 pounds of CO2, compared to just 0.29 pounds with the induction stove (powered by the electricity grid). And, if you generate your own solar power, induction cooking becomes, in essence, emissions-free. Induction may also be better for indoor air quality because cooking requires less heat overall meaning lower effluent.
Many professional kitchens have switched to induction cooking in the last few years. This isn’t surprising, given that induction offers better control, speedier cooking, and reduced exposure to fumes.
Because induction cooking offers such precise control of heat, professional and home chefs have a much easier time making delicate sauces such as a béarnaise and melting and maintaining chocolate without needing a bain marie. You may have to change some of your cooking habits when switching to an induction cooktop, however. For instance, you won’t have to wait for a pan of oil to warm while you chop your onions. The pan will be hot before you’ve peeled the onion’s skin. Also, you’ll need to get used to the potential for the element to shut off if you lift a pan to toss the contents around. Moving the pan around on the stovetop surface could damage the glass-ceramic.
European chefs and home cooks have long been using induction stovetops with success, however, and savvy U.S. customers have long been buying these appliances overseas and bringing them home. Thankfully, prices have dropped dramatically for home kitchen induction stovetops in the U.S. in recent years in part because of their growing popularity.
One downside of induction cooktops is that they only work with cookware (or ceramic coated metal cookware) that contains ferrous metal, i.e. stainless steel, cast iron, or carbon steel, or with an interface disk that transfer heat. Happily, this kind of cookware is also the most eco-friendly and healthy. Check out the ecoHome directory for our top picks for eco-friendly cookware. To check if your cookware will work with an induction stovetop, see if a magnet sticks to the bottom of the pot or pan.
One other consideration for induction cooking is that it can be hard to use for very large pots and pans, such as a paella pan. This is why some people opt for a stovetop that combines induction with natural gas burners.
When considering an induction stovetop, look for models that have the following features:
- Over-heat sensors
- Unsuitable cookware detectors
- Heat (watts) & Temperature (Degrees) control
- Delay timers
- Programmable memory functions
- Digital countdown timers
- Auto pan size detection
- Automatic shut-off
- Error codes for fault fixing
- Cooling fan noise
For those with concerns over the electromagnetic field generated by induction cooktops, there is currently no evidence of health problems related to these devices. Indeed, the EMF drops off very quickly in a short distance (a couple of inches), so exposure is minimal if it happens at all.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Flying in the face of the reduce, reuse, recycle green mantra, most purchases of new stoves and ranges are based on a desire to update a kitchen’s look rather than because an appliance is broken. This clearly creates a huge amount of waste, with many appliances ending up in landfill unnecessarily.
Naturally, the eco-friendly thing to do is to choose an appliance you’re likely to stick with long-term. This means picking an appliance that has a good chance of fitting the aesthetic of your kitchen regardless of any upgrades to kitchen cabinetry and so forth.
When it comes to the environmental impact of your large kitchen appliances, it’s not just your choice of new products you need to think about. Old ovens and ranges can be hard, if not impossible, to recycle, meaning that it simply ends up in landfill, possibly leaching heavy metals and toxins into the soil and water supply. If your oven, stovetop, or range is still usable, offer it for sale or donate it to a local charity.
If you have reason to part with a working appliance, consider donating it to a charity such as Green Demolitions. This company sells items salvaged from luxury kitchens and bathrooms, and proceeds from their sales go to a charitable enterprise that supports outreach programs for All Addicts Anonymous (AAA). So, if you’re in the market for a new appliance, check out Green Demolitions. You may find a luxury item at 50-70 percent of new retail prices and you’ll be helping support a charity and keep perfectly usable appliances out of landfill.
If your appliance is broken or otherwise unusable, call your city for advice on how best to dispose of it, or ask the provider of your new appliance if they have a removal program where they’ll take your old stove or range away for recycling.
Other considerations for the eco-conscious consumer
Energy efficient appliances sometimes come with a rebate or other incentives in addition to keeping your utility costs low and helping the planet’s health. Make sure to check with the retailer and mail in your rebate forms within the allotted time.
As noted earlier, induction stovetops are the more energy efficient choice and are arguably safer than electric and gas stovetops. That said, a lot of people enjoy the sensory experience of cooking with gas, which may mean you enjoy cooking more at home and have an overall healthier diet. Whichever you choose, you’ll need to ensure you have all the right wiring and piping to accommodate your new stovetop.
Installing a separate stovetop usually means more flexibility. You can position a stovetop on a kitchen island, for instance, making for a more sociable cooking experience. You could also choose a different size stovetop to your wall oven depending on how you like to cook and the kind of counter space available.
Most cooktops are 30 or 36 inches wide, but some are as small as 21 inches and others as wide as 48 inches. Most 30-inch stovetops have four or five burners with different energy outputs, while 36-inch models have five or six burners. If you like to cook with gas for some things, but could use an induction stovetop for most of your cooking needs, consider getting a smaller gas cooktop and a portable induction model or installing two smaller models side by side.
Another thing to consider when looking for a new stovetop is whether the model has expandable elements, bridge elements, or an oval burner. These allow you to better use griddles and longer pans and to match the burner to the size of your pots, which will save energy (and time) while cooking.
Certifications for Ovens, Stovetops, and Ranges
Unlike for refrigerators and other large kitchen appliances, there are no Energy Star® certifications for ranges in the U.S., at least not for residential appliances. This is, in part, because other major household appliances (refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.) use far more energy than stoves and ovens. The other reason is that there is huge variability in the energy consumption of cooking appliances depending on how you use them, the type of cookware you use, and even the food you cook. Energy Star ratings are applied to commercial ovens, however.
In contrast, Europe applies a variety of certifications to ovens and stovetops. So, when looking for a new kitchen appliance, it can help to check out the eco-credentials of a product in Europe and then see if the same model is available in the States. A few of the labels to look out for include:
- The European Energy Label
- European Eco Label
- Energy Saving Trust Recommended.
The European Energy label
The European Energy Label will be familiar to many people as it is required by European law to be displayed alongside products at the point of sale. The label rates products from A to G, based on energy efficiency and covers a variety of household appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators, televisions, light bulbs, and electric ovens.
The EU Energy Label is awarded based on energy consumption in kilowatts per hour (kWh), with the more efficient appliances using fewer kWh.
European Eco Label (voluntary)
The European Eco Label is a voluntary but official and independent certification used across Europe to demarcate non-food products with minimal environmental impact. This certification factors in more than just energy consumption, assessing the impact of a product over its lifecycle, including production, transportation, usage and disposal.
Energy Saving Trust Recommended (Voluntary)
The Energy Saving Trust Recommended certification mark is a UK-based program that certifies the most energy efficient products. Manufacturers have to apply and pay to get their products certified, and the program is run by a non-profit organization established to help reduce carbon emissions. The non-profit, the Energy Saving Trust, is funded by the UK government and the private sector and the criteria for the certification are set by an independent panel with annual reviews.
Energy Star (voluntary)
The Energy Star program certifies that an appliance’s energy consumption is below an agreed level while in stand-by mode. This means that it is often applied to office equipment such as computers, fax machines and printers. The government-led program was developed in the U.S. and the European Energy Star is a voluntary certification managed through a partnership between the European Community (EC) and the U.S.
California Prop 65
In 1986, California voters approved Proposition 65, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Prop 65 requires the State to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. This list, which must be updated at least once a year, has grown to include approximately 800 chemicals since it was first published in 1987. The proposition also requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in the products they purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment.
Proposition 65 is intended to enable Californians (but also Americans in general) to make informed decisions when buying products. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) administers the Proposition 65 program, which involves evaluating all currently available scientific information on substances considered for placement on the Proposition 65 list.
Products that meet Prop 65 standards are those that are free from the 800 or so problematic chemicals (whether synthetic or naturally occurring) on the list. These chemicals are known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. In relation to stoves, ovens, and ranges, potential problems include the chemicals used as solvents, resins, and coatings, as well as formaldehyde and other chemicals used in manufacturing and construction, and those that are the byproducts of chemical processes.
The penalties for not complying with Proposition 65 are high, which means that most companies label their products with a Prop 65 Warning. This doesn’t actually mean that the product is problematic, though, as companies err on the side of caution to avoid fines. As things such as mercury, lead, and even PTFE are used in some interior components of ovens, ranges, and stovetops, it’s not all that surprising that so few companies claim to be Prop 65 certified. These things are unlikely, however, to have any negative consequences on health because they are not typically exposed, unless the product malfunctions.
UNI EN ISO 14001
This standard outlines the requirements for the adoption of an environmental management system and provides guidelines for companies to follow when drafting corporate policy on eco-sustainability and pollution. The certification focuses on optimizing the use of energy and natural resources, and quality systems for waste disposal.
EU directive RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances)
The RoHS directive places stringent restrictions on the use of hazardous materials and substances such as lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium VI, polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).
EU directive REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemical Substances)
The REACH regulation concerns the handling of chemical substances and aims to ensure that human health and the environment are protected to the fullest extent.
Star-K is a Kosher Certification, also known as the Vaad Hakashrut of Baltimore. It is awarded under the guidance of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, with the involvement of many other rabbis and is one of the largest Jewish dietary certification agencies in North America. In regard to ovens, stovetops, and ranges, the Star-K certifies that an oven is OK for use by those who observe the Sabbath.
The more information a manufacturer offers about an appliance, and the longer the warranty available, the more likely it is to be a higher quality product. Beware ranges, stovetops, and ovens with no warranty and no clear product details.
Check out the ecoHome directory for environmentally conscious options for stovetops, ranges, and ovens.
Companies to Consider for Conscientious Kitchen Appliances
Ranges, stovetops, and ovens all require the use of masses of metal and energy to produce, meaning that they’re inherently not very eco-friendly, whatever the brand. That said, going with a brand that has a strong reputation for producing high quality, durable, high-performing products can help improve the likelihood that an appliance will stay out of landfill for many years to come.
Two key considerations for anyone looking for an eco-friendly range, oven, or stovetop are versatility and suitability. The more options an appliance has that meet your particular needs, the more likely you are to use the appliance in an energy efficient and healthy manner.
Some companies, such as Smeg and Bertazzoni, have much more robust environmental policies than others and produce kitchen appliances with sustainability and eco-friendliness in mind. Sadly, for most other brands, these simply aren’t factors in their design and manufacturing processes, and Smeg and Bertazzoni products can be hard to track down in the U.S. as they are often only available through select independent dealers.
So, without further ado, let’s look at some of the best brands for ranges, ovens, and stovetops.
Kenmore, Frigidaire, GE, and Whirlpool are midlevel, mass-market brands selling kitchen ranges priced between $500 and $1,500. Kenmore are one of the best known and loved names in America, having been around since 1927. Frigidaire offer high-performance gas and electric ranges in classic designs with a variety of time-saving features. Whirlpool offer an excellent line of freestanding ranges with features including hidden bake elements, power burners, and convection technology. They also offer a range featuring both English and Spanish controls. GE offer timeless gas and electric ranges that combine performance and aesthetics, with arguably the widest variety of features and prices currently available in the U.S.
LG and Samsung are midlevel brands offering cooking appliances priced between $1,000 and $2,500, while the GE Profile line offers gas, electric, and dual-fuel ranges priced from $1,000 to $2,000. LG’s freestanding ranges have a large capacity and their Dual Convection System claims to preheat your oven 30 percent faster. Both LG and Samsung are newer brands in the oven market, bringing with them some high-end features at a midlevel price. GE Café is an upper-midlevel, mass-market line of gas and dual-fuel freestanding ranges priced above $2,000 and featuring stainless-steel exteriors and modern aesthetics.
Thermador, KitchenAid, and Jenn-Air are high-end brands offering kitchen appliances priced between $1,500 and $6,000. The Kenmore Pro line also caters to the high-end market with appliances priced between $1,500 and $6,000. KitchenAid’s Architect Series II collection includes drop-in wall ovens; electric, gas, and dual-fuel ranges; gas, electric, and induction stovetops; and overhead ‘microwave-hood’ options. KitchenAid also sell pro-style ranges with convection and steam-assist technology. Thermador, meanwhile, only sell their ranges through independent stores and are known to be innovators in the market, offering style and function. Jenn-Air offer stylish, high-performance cooking appliances, some featuring stainless steel finishes.
At the truly high end, Viking offer appliances priced between $4,500 and $6,000. These include gas, electric, and dual-fuel ranges. Many gourmet cooks consider Viking the go-to brand for pro-style ranges, with premium features such as high-output burners. GE Monogram is another high-end line of pro-style gas, electric, and dual fuel ranges priced from $5,000 to $7,000.
For the most sustainable, eco-friendly options, however, you’ll want to look for Smeg and Bertazzoni. These German and Italian companies, respectively, have robust environmental policies, including using materials such as steel, glass, and brass, that are much easier to recycle. They also make public commitments to the EU directives RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances), and REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemical Substances), often going further than just the minimum requirements.
A wide range of companies manufacture wall ovens, with Whirlpool and GE the best midlevel, mass-market brands selling wall ovens that cost $1,000 to $1,500.
Higher-end brands offering electric wall ovens from $1,500 include:
- GE Monogram
- Viking (often considered the original pro-series)
Luxury brands offering ovens from around $2000 for consumers who want a professional look and high performance include:
In performance reviews for electric stovetops, GE, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, and Whirlpool fare very well, with excellent user reviews to back up laboratory testing. For gas stovetops, Viking, GE, and Thermador get top marks. For incorporated induction stovetops, GE, Bosch, Whirlpool, and Frigidaire fare well. We’ll look at portable stovetops separately.
Considered the original pro-style brand, Viking offer gas, electric, and induction cooktops starting from $2,000, with premium features and a Professional and Designer series sold through independent retailers. Topping that, though, is Wolf – the luxury brand for gas, electric, and induction cooktops. Their models can cost $5,000 or more and are designed with professionals and aesthetes in mind.
Bosch gas, electric, and induction cooktops range in price from $800 to $3,300 and are, as with all Bosch appliances, at the higher end of the market. Similarly, KitchenAid offers gas, electric, and induction cooktops that cost $800 to $2,100.
The GE Profile line includes gas, electric, and induction cooktops priced from $700 to $2,000. And, at the higher end, GE Monogram offers pro-style gas, electric, and induction cooktops starting from $1,400. Miele also offer gas and electric cooktops starting from around $1,400, while Thermador offer pro-style gas, electric, and induction cooktops that start at $1,700.
Whirlpool is a midlevel mass-market brand that offers gas and electric cooktops priced between $600 and $1,000. In a similar price bracket, GE and Jenn-Air offer excellent value for money, pairing performance with affordability. The GE line includes gas and electric cooktops priced between $500 and $1,500, while Jenn-Air offers gas and electric cooktops priced up to $1,000. Jenn-Air was the first company to introduce self-ventilated cooktops and they’re still innovating as an affordable but high-end brand.