Cooking With Gas Hurts Your Wallet and Your Health
You’re paying too much to cook with gas. You’re paying with your family’s health. Your gas bills are going to go up. And in some parts of the country, the gas industry is even charging you the cost of distributing their propaganda. It is time to switch to cleaner, cheaper, healthier, safer, and superior induction cooking.
I love cooking. My old roommates and I once ran an online cooking show (nice try, the link is long since vanished). My new roommates like “helping” me cook too, and it is because of them that we’re all-electric. They’re one and four years old, and we need a stove that delivers quality, healthy cooking as quickly as possible. We now have an induction stove: It is faster, more precise, comes with a much lower risk of accidents, and doesn’t poison our lungs.
That is what is so dangerous about the gas industry’s propaganda, and why you should stop paying for it by switching off the gas. For decades, gas companies have pushed gas appliances, particularly stoves, through a range of tactics -- public relations and influencer campaigns, funding and partnering with restaurant associations, and the orchestration of astroturf (faux-grassroots) front groups designed to fight electrification policies. Their expensive videos where paid celebrity chefs cook over gas stoves, many without ventilation, should come with a warning label. They’re not telling you the dirty, dangerous truth: Gas puts your family’s health and safety at risk.
New reports: Gas appliances are increasing the risks of respiratory illness
Two new reports from health researchers have found that gas appliances cause unhealthy indoor air and respiratory health issues. This is important data, especially when we’re spending more time indoors due to shelter-in-place orders.
A report released this week from the Sierra Club and our partners at Physicians for Social Responsibility, Mothers Out Front, and the Rocky Mountain Institute, finds that gas stoves may be exposing tens of millions of people to levels of air pollution that would be illegal under outdoor air-quality standards.
Two decades of health research illustrates that indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than the air outside due to emissions from gas stoves. Exposure to these pollutants, even in the short term and at low levels, can cause respiratory illnesses such as asthma. In fact, children in homes that cook with gas have a 42 percent increased risk of asthma.
These findings are corroborated by a report released last week from UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, commissioned by the Sierra Club. More on that study here.
Has the gas industry knowingly been pushing unhealthy products?
It’s difficult to say how familiar the gas industry is with the health risks of its products, though in the past it has blamed indoor air pollution from cooking on particulate matter that comes from the food itself. But there’s no mistaking the data in these new reports -- indoor nitrogen dioxide pollution is driven by gas stoves. Does this mean they’ll stop their aggressive marketing of gas appliances? Don’t hold your breath (unless you’re cooking with a gas stove, in that case, please do hold your breath until you turn on your ventilation hood and then look up the fastest way to buy an induction stove).
Home and business use of gas appliances is, not surprisingly, critical to gas sales: 85 percent of the industry’s revenue comes from those two sources.
That’s one reason the gas industry is so afraid of the building electrification movement that has swept cities, counties, and states over the past year. Homes, businesses, and entire communities moving off of gas would upend the business model of some of the world’s dirtiest companies, particularly those that have invested billions in producing even more fracked gas.
It’s hard for the gas industry and its public relations firms to get consumers to care much about saying goodbye to their inefficient and dirty gas furnaces or hot water heater. They go mostly unseen and don’t generate an emotional connection. The industry instead has chosen to focus on, and market, gas stoves. It is banking on its customers fighting for them, and to hedge its bets, it is underhandedly charging its ratepayers to fund front groups to do it for them.
That’s the backbone of its strategy -- make you pay more to fund and direct campaigns claiming to speak on behalf of the public about their love for gas stoves.
But what do consumers actually want?
Polling shows that people prefer the cooking technology they are familiar with. So the key is to make sure people have actually experienced the superior performance, health, and safety of induction stoves. Electric stoves considerably outperform gas stoves. In Consumer Reports’ 2020 ranking of the top ranges, six of the top eight stoves are electric. And a poll of voters in California recently found that more than seven out of 10 would prefer that their appliances run on clean, renewable electricity rather than fossil fuels. I can tell you my family would never think of using gas again.
It’s no wonder the gas industry is taking such desperate measures to paint a rosy picture of living with gas appliances -- the research confirms that gas in our homes is making us sick, and it’s only a matter of time before consumers get gas appliances out of their homes. Fortunately all-electric appliances are not only superior technology but also contribute to cleaner air and more affordable energy bills.
Beautifully curated Instagram pages, cooking demos with charismatic chefs, and even well-funded misinformation campaigns cannot change the ugly facts. Cooking with gas stoves causes dangerous pollution that damages our health and climate, and gas appliances contribute to the insidious underlying health conditions that make us less resilient to respiratory diseases like COVID-19. It’s time to make the switch.