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Efficient Electric Alternatives

Heat Pumps

If your home is heated by a gas furnace, it is emitting indoor air pollutants and climate pollution. When gas is burned, most of the fuel is converted into heat. But some is lost, with even the most efficient gas systems converting around 90 percent of the gas into heat.

Efficient electric heat pumps use less energy to provide the same amount of heat. Heat pumps extract heat from outdoor air and transfer it indoors, even in cold temperatures. A heat pump is essentially an air conditioner running in reverse. For each unit of energy used by a heat pump, three to four units of heat are created. That means while gas is at best around 90 percent efficient, heat pumps have efficiencies of 300 percent to 400 percent.

How can a heat pump extract heat from the cold outdoor air during the winter? It works because heat flows from hot to cold. The heat pump uses a refrigerant colder than the outdoor air, so when the refrigerant is sent outdoors, it absorbs heat, even from frigid temperatures. The refrigerant is then compressed, which raises its temperature three to four times, and the heat is sent indoors. It’s the same technology used for air conditioning, only in reverse. The same heat pump that warms your home in the winter can cool it in the summer with a single device, saving you money by having one system for both heating and cooling.

Induction Cooking

People sometimes prefer gas-burning stoves over traditional electric stoves. But many do not know about induction stoves, which bring a pot of water to boil twice as fast as gas stoves. Induction cooktops provide heat evenly across a pan, unlike gas ranges. 

So how does it work? When an induction cooktop is switched on, electricity pulses through coils of copper wire beneath the stove’s glass surface, creating a magnetic field. The magnetic field induces the movement of electrons in the cookware, heating the cookware directly and cutting out the intermediate step of heating a burner. This makes induction stoves highly efficient. Consumer Reports found that every induction stove it tested delivered “fast cooktop heat and superb simmering.”

Burns and accidents are less likely with an induction cooktop. Stainless steel and iron pots and pans work on induction stoves, meaning you may have to buy new cookware to use an induction stove. The improved cooking experience makes it well worth it for most people.

Want to learn more about induction stoves? Check out reviews from Consumer Reports, Wirecutter, USA Today, and Forbes.