Is your kitchen the next battleground over the greenhouse gases?
Natural gas has been viewed as a “clean” alternative, but it got that moniker back when the lion’s share of electricity was generated by coal. With coal on the dwindle, there is a new interest in what natural gas leaves behind. For every million BTUs generated by coal, between 214 and 228 pounds of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. While cleaner, natural gas still releases 117 pounds of CO2 while propane releases 139 pounds for each million BTUs. But that’s only part of the natural gas story. Extraction of natural gas can leak as much as 9 percent in methane – a gas 34-times stronger than carbon dioxide at trapping heat over a century and 86-times stronger over 20 years.
For those still smart enough to be following the Paris climate accord, strong reductions in greenhouse gas production are translating into rapid diminishment of gas appliances and home heating use. Europe is looking at gas-based appliances being phased out in the next decade.
Closer to home, Berkley, California, became the first U.S. municipality to ban the installation of new gas lines into new multi-family buildings. And they’re not alone. Over 50 cities and counties in California are looking at similar bans while the state is also looking at the issue. The reason is simple. It’s estimated that a quarter of greenhouse gases produced by a building come from gas appliances and heating.
High-end developers will likely be opposed because of the caché gas cooktops engender in buyers. But think about it: The only appliance in a great kitchen that burns is the cooktop (no great kitchen uses a gas refrigerator). High-spec ranges are dual fuel (electric oven with gas cooktop). Gas is thought superior to electric because of the glowing red coils of electric cooktops of yore. Those radiant models had awful temperature control requiring eagle-eyes to avoid burning. Today’s induction beats gas in temperature control. The only loss is the dancing flame (and the butch look of a range top).
Coincidentally, last week I met with Charles Pizzeck, district sales manager for BSH appliances. They make Bosch, Thermador, and Gaggenau for the US market. We were discussing my next renovation project and what appliances I wanted. I’d pointed out that Gaggenau (my favorite) didn’t have a very “butch” cooktop compared to Thermador or Wolf.
He said one of the reasons was that Gaggenau was putting more “oomph” into electric. He then showed me their newest induction cooktop that mimics a French Top whereby moving a pan away from its original position diminished the heat without the need to fiddle with controls. (And before you think that would create a hotspot, it doesn’t. It lowers the heat under the whole pan – like a French Top) Pretty slick.
He said that European regulations and alignment with the Paris accord are driving the development of ever-better, and efficient electric appliances. Certainly, the US is at least a decade behind induction adoption compared to Europe.
And you can count me in. I switched to induction six years ago because electric was the only option. My next place has the ability to use gas, but I had already decided to return to induction even before I knew about the move to phase out gas. For a cooker like me, it’s that good.
So remember when you’re roasting beef in your gas oven that between the cow farts and the natural gas, the beef isn’t the only thing getting warmer. And who knows, one day soon open flames in kitchens may induce the same horror as candles on Christmas trees.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.