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Green Building News

In California, Zero Carbon Goal Has Some Cooks on Guard

Berkeley becomes the first city in the country to impose ban on natural gas in new buildings

Beginning in January, gas-burning stoves will be increasingly hard to find in Berkeley, California. The city is the first in the country to prohibit gas lines to new residential buildings as part of an effort to trim carbon emissions. Photo: Tim Evanson / CC BY-SA / Flickr

California’s push to become carbon neutral by 2045 may hurt amateur chefs where it hurts most—in their own kitchens.

Berkeley, Ca. last month became the first city in the country to ban the use of natural gas in new low-rise residential buildings. The edict, which takes effect on Jan. 1, will compel homeowners to use an electric range rather than the big Viking or Wolf they’ve been eyeing.

Restaurant owners may be able to win an exemption, but city officials argue that electric appliances have a lower carbon footprint than gas-burning stoves, water heaters, and furnaces, NPR reported.

Space heating and cooking account for almost a third of the natural gas burned in the U.S. Getting to carbon neutrality will require a colossal effort to wean consumers off gas appliances. They may not need much coaxing to swap a gas-fired water heater for an electric model, but giving up on their commercial range may be another story.

This isn’t Berkeley’s first bit of ground-breaking local legislation. The city in 1977 was the first in the country to ban smoking in restaurants and bars, and in January it forced restaurants to begin using compostable packaging for takeout orders, the San Francisco Chronicle said.

But critics think the latest move is going too far. “People love their gas stoves,” Bob Raymer, technical director with the California Building Industry Association, told NPR. “We don’t want to force something onto the consumer that makes the consumer feel uncomfortable, or that they just don’t like. After all, it’s their home.”

Kate Harrison, the councilwoman who introduced the ordinance, said it’s an important step forward. “It’s an enormous issue,” she told the Chronicle, “We need to really tackle this. When we think about pollution and climate-change issues, we tend to think about factories and cars, but all buildings are producing greenhouse gas.”

People who live in all electric houses also will enjoy better air quality, and fewer gas lines also means a lower risk of fires after an earthquake, according to proponents such as Pierre Delforge of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Although the ban on new natural gas hookups initially affects only low-rise residential buildings, eventually it also will cover commercial buildings and larger multifamily structures.

There are now 50 cities across California, including San Francisco, that are considering similar legislation, according to California Energy Commission Chairman David Hochshild, who spoke at the City Council meeting where the new law was passed.

While Raymer said his group does not support a ban on natural gas in new buildings, he said some builders are already offering all-electric homes because they can save as much as $5,000 by not running gas lines.

In order to meet its carbon neutrality goals, California also will have to figure out how to get natural gas out of existing homes, and that’s going to be a tougher problem.

-Scott Gibson is a contributing writer at Green Building Advisor and Fine Homebuilding magazine.

83 Comments

  1. User avater
    Stephen Sheehy | | #1

    People loved their incandescent bulbs until leds came along.
    I loved my gas cooktop until I tried induction. Induction is better than gas in every way.

    1. Mike Simanyi | | #10

      I do a lot of wok cooking and have a range that is superbly suited for that. I'm not convinced induction could be remotely useful for that discipline.

      Outside that particular use case though, I wouldn't have had any issue going with induction instead of gas, other than perhaps the price.

      1. User avater
        Stephen Sheehy | | #11

        We have a Lodge cast iron wok that we use a lot and it works just fine on our induction cooktop.

      2. Malcolm Taylor | | #12

        My two friends who are chefs and teach cooking at a nearby college use induction all the time with their students. The slow transition from gas for professional cooks is more about habit than quality.

      3. Matt V | | #15

        There are induction wok burners available for commercial kitchens. Not cheap, but at least it's an option.

  2. User avater
    Eric Mailhot | | #2

    Agreed for induction range or cooktop, but not for water heating in cold climate, gas unit are way more efficient and cheap

    1. Peter L | | #3

      The main word here is "cheap", which natural gas is, compared to electricity. "More efficient" is debatable as a ductless mini-split as a heating device is tough to beat and modern mini's can work to -30F below zero. Heat-pump water heaters are very efficient, although slower and more expensive to purchase than natural gas water heaters.

      Weaning ourselves off fossil fuels for home use is going to be tough. We are "addicted" to the cheap and fast fix of natural gas but nobody said it was going to be easy. It's the decision we have to make. Keep the gas companies wealthy and continue fracking and burning fossil fuels or make a tough change and go to all electric for our homes.

      In my home I went 100% electric. I have a ductless mini-split for heat, a heat pump water heater, a heat pump clothes dryer and an induction top for cooking. Spend around $50 a month for the electric bill. I saved $8,000 or more but not having to run gas lines in home during build and no vents going through the roof needed. I didn't have to buy a propane tank (rural area) and then have a truck come out every few months a refill the tank (which is another polluting factor of having the refill truck show up to homes every few months).

    2. User avater
      Stephen Sheehy | | #6

      It depends upon what you mean by "gas." Natural gas is cheap, propane is expensive . And both are bad for the planet.

      1. John Clark | | #13

        People are bad for the planet.

        1. User avater
          Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #17

          Oh, snap!

          1. User avater
            John Heckendorn | | #30

            Ergo "12 Monkeys"...

    3. User avater
      Dana Dorsett | | #9

      From a lifecycle cost point of view even in cold climates an EcoCute technology heat pump water heater can still sometimes edge out a gas-burner, even in cold climates.

      The only EcoCute consortium models currently selling in North America are Sanden's SanCO2, series, which is pretty pricey up front, and has some freeze-up risk potential in very cold climates if not installed correctly. The use of CO2 as a heat pump refrigerant allows it to operate efficiently at delta-Ts much higher than with HFC or hydrocarbon refrigerants. Bringing the water in the tank to 50C/122F when it's -30C/-22F outside is not a problem.

      It's not clear (to me anyway) how much cheaper Sanden's any of the other vendors' EcoCute water heaters are in Japan (where the technology consortium was formed and named.)

      1. User avater
        John Heckendorn | | #16

        Dana (or anyone), how reliable overall have Sandens been that are installed in the US? Realizing that reliability is at least as much reliant on the installation as it is with the product itself, and that the US numbers may be statistically insignificant due to very low market penetration, are you hearing about higher-than-expected levels of dissatisfaction with the Sanden solution?

        Also, why haven't other EcoCute vendors decided to invade the US market? Have they been watching Sanden and gotten disenchanted because of the apparently low level of interest by even eco-minded consumers?

        1. User avater
          Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #21

          I just got a Sanden installed in my gut rehab house. Set to activate next month. Fingers crossed.

          Why haven't other vendors "decided to invade the US market"? INFRASTRUCTURE. My plumber battled me tooth and nail to convince me to purchase an American Boiler unit. He stocks all the parts, his team knows the system back and forth, and when the boiler fails one stormy night he's set to get to work on his stock boiler - not this exotic import.

          1. User avater
            John Heckendorn | | #26

            It makes one wonder, then, how minisplits have achieved the considerable level of success they have, given that as a solution they share so much in common with EcoCute, and would experience the same headwinds of inertia, education (i.e., lack of), and incumbent infrastructure.

          2. User avater
            Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #38

            Infrastructure - sales, marketing, service, trades, inventory, parts, skills, working capital, etc.

        2. User avater
          Joshua Salinger | | #76

          John, we installed one of the first 10 Sanden's imported to the U.S. here in Portland Oregon in 2015 on a PHIUS certified single family home. The unit supplies hot water and also space heat. I also have one in my own home which I have had for over 2 years. I have yet to have any issue, maintenance or otherwise with these units. We have since installed other in the past 2 years without a hiccup. We are now spec'ing them on most of our projects.

          There was some difficulty getting our trade partners to install these without unnecessary costs, but once they had installed it they came around to understanding that it is a different install and a few extra fittings, but all simple enough and within their wheelhouse. We now have trade partners that install these without complaint and without the unnecessary premiums in cost.

  3. John Clark | | #4

    I wonder how many builders are going to install the more expensive induction range vs a cheapo electric resistance? My guess is not many because they won't want to discourage homebuyer/renters by requiring that they do not purchase all aluminium cookware.

    1. User avater
      John Heckendorn | | #20

      It would be safe to surmise relatively few induction ranges/cooktops will be installed in comparison to juice-thirsty resistance units. Upfront cost is one factor. Another is the fact that in the US, a quite large segment of cookware marketed/sold is not induction-capable. And finally, there seem to be persistent issues with the quality of many induction products; I keep seeing reports of premature failure of electronic components like circuit boards, which is often exacerbated by truly execrable customer service from the manufacturers and retailers. So easy to understand if builders see induction as just another post-build headache waiting to happen.

      1. Calum Wilde | | #24

        From what I understand induction is slightly more efficient during the warm up phase of cooking, but resistance is more efficient at sustained temperatures. Considering that I take much longer for me to cook most dishes than to get the pan/pot/water hot enough, I think I'd consume more energy using an induction cook top.

        1. User avater
          John Heckendorn | | #28

          I've seen discussions that argue both sides plausibly, so the comparative efficiency superiority seems to be unresolved (or maybe the difference is relatively immaterial). Of course, with cooktops gathering dust because of everyone adopting Blue Apron and Instant Pots, the whole issue may be moot. ;)

        2. Trevor Lambert | | #32

          It can vary depending on the details. I could see how resistance heating might have a higher ideal efficiency potential for sustained cooking operation, due to the fact there will be some loss in the induction coils. However, how often will you hit that ideal? If your burner is larger than the pot, that's a big efficiency hit. If it's smaller, that's a performance hit, and for that reason most people avoid that scenario. It's very common for induction tops to have "smart" zones, that deliver power to the exact area needed as dictated by the pot size. The resistance ideal is also bare coil, which is a rare (and undesirable) bird these days. If you're heating a glass surface that is in turn heating the pot, that's another efficiency hit. I think it's pretty safe to say that, on average, induction is more energy efficient.

          John, I would hazard to guess that those two trends are both fads. There's a general trend away from actual cooking, paradoxically at the same time as people seem to be obsessed with high end kitchens. I guess people like to have an expensive range, they just don't like to actually use it. The people buying all those insta-pots are the people who weren't cooking, and will probably return to not cooking in the very near future.

        3. User avater
          Stephen Sheehy | | #34

          I've never heard anyone claim that resistance cooktops are ever more efficient than induction. Time for a wing nut test?

          My induction cooktop certainly boils much faster than anything else I've ever used. Another nice feature is that if you want to change temperature, it responds instantly. And when you're done cooking, the cooktop cooks much more quickly than a gas or resistance unit.

          We cook a lot. And induction is so much better than gas ( which is way better than resistance) that I can't imagine using anything else.

        4. John Clark | | #50

          Induction offers gas-like response which is why it's a good alternative for those who are more familiar with gas.

          From an energy perspective IIRC Induction edges out electric resistance. I'd have to go dig up the study. NatGas is over course the least efficient but that changes depending on where you start your calculation (ex, Do you include the energy required to deliver the NatGas/Electrons to the cook top?)

          1. Lance Peters | | #55

            John, from what I’ve read, gas cooktops are far less efficient because 1/3 or less of the energy in the gas ends up heating the pot. Much of the heat flows around and past the pot.

            Of course this will vary slightly with the pot size relative to the burner.

          2. John Clark | | #56

            @Lance,

            Yes ! Indeed a lot of waste goes to heating the vessel and the surrounding air which is why I mentioned it depends on where you start your efficiency calculation. It's less obvious when you consider the point source for the energy used to power the cook top. Basically the efficiency of the power source and distribution network used to generate the electrons or the NatGas sent to the cook top.

          3. User avater
            John Heckendorn | | #61

            Absent comprehensive scientific testing across a variety of induction and resistance solutions, I'm inclined to think the differences are very close and subject to several variables, including how the burners are used. Here's one assessment that argues -- at least in some situations -- resistance can be more efficient than induction:
            https://www.centurylife.org/is-induction-more-efficient-than-electric-coil-or-gas-an-energy-efficiency-comparison-between-stoves/

  4. Peter L | | #5

    Is it true that the biggest problem with natural gas is the fracking? All the environmental impacts that come from it are the biggest drawbacks to continuing our quest for fossil fuel usage.

    1. User avater
      Stephen Sheehy | | #7

      Not just fracking. In many places, gas is a byproduct of oil production. Unless the right pipeline and pumping infrastructure is in place, that gas is burned on site and thus any energy is wasted.
      In addition, gas pipelines leak, often a lot. Methane leaked into the atmosphere has a much more significant warming impact than an equal volume of CO 2 does.
      And of course, once in a while, gas pipelines blow up and kill people.

    2. User avater
      Dana Dorsett | | #8

      >"Is it not true that the biggest problem with natural gas is the fracking? "

      Yes it is NOT true that the biggest problem with natural gas is the fracking.

      The biggest problem with natural gas?

      Its the CO2, silly! Can't get the energy out of it without setting it on fire and realeasing CO2!

      That's followed by fujitive methane releases/leaks at both the gas wells and distribution system. While it's true that as a general rule fracked gas has more fujitive methane release per MMBTU put into pipelines than gas retrieved & processed traditional dry gas wells that needs less processing, it's by no means restricted to fracking.

      Fracking has the additional residual problem of what to do with the well brine and frack water that not all dry gas wells have, but that's a manageable local problem, unlike the CO2 & methane issues.

      Then there's the local PM2.5 pollution, the local fire hazard, the houses that blow up when the local utility makes a pressurization error.

      Yes, it's more environmentally friendly in the bigger picture than cooking with cow dung, or coal, but it's not universally better than cooking with biomass, even when the gas is sourced from a not very leaky dry gas well.

      >"In many places, gas is a byproduct of oil production."

      That would be true for a majority of the fracked wells. The price of gas is too low to support the high cost of fracking with out getting the oil and wet-gas components (ethane, propane, butane, etc) out of the same well. Gas from fracked coal seams (as opposed to shales) tends to have fewer wet-gas components, and is often dry enough to be directly pipelined, but often has a high CO2 fraction in the gas. As long as they're still selling natural gas at a net loss from shales and making the profit from the wet-gas and oil fractions it's hard to make coal seam gas projects pencil out.

      Full disclosure: My brother in-law is a geologist with a decades-long career focusing on natural gas resources, who has both made & lost a lot of money on projects from Alberta to Zimbabwe (and much of the alphabet between.)

    3. John Clark | | #14

      Not really. The problem with NatGas is that from a safety standpoint product which isn't sent to market must be vented via natural state or burned.

      The other "problem" is that the distribution system aggregate leaks. NatGa (aka Methane) initially has a high GWP.

  5. User avater
    Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #18

    I just started using alcohol burners, and they're wonderful - as long as you use proper alcohol and not poison aka "denatured" alcohol: I just found a source based out west for 100% grain alcohol; now, I begin the effort to source nearby. Cast iron pans are sooooo much happier off of the forced-methane burners. Of course, one can make alcohol on site as well - on my docket, to be sure.

    1. Trevor Lambert | | #33

      Burning alcohol is not great from a global warming perspective. I'd be surprised if it's not worse than natural gas, once you factor in production, transport and CO2 release upon burning. I've seen studies showing ethanol is worse than gasoline when it comes to transportation fuel, and most of the same factors are applicable to both uses.

      1. User avater
        Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #39

        Which fuel is actually "great" to burn from a "global warming perspective" in your considered opinion. How is using electricity to heat food and drink at all efficient in any way, shape, or form - particularly when it comes to energy transport and production. When I ultimately produce alcohol from sugar or potatoes or grains myself (or pick up from the local distillery down the street), how will the lack of transport fuel affect the rating of ethyl alcohol from your perspective. My pots and pans love interacting with alcohol (who doesn't?) vis-á-vis other heating elements. FInally, I can drink alcohol and get a great buzz - try doing that with natural gas and let me know how it goes.

        1. User avater
          Stephen Sheehy | | #48

          How do you get the alcohol to your burners? What sort of cooktop do you use? Lots of boats use alcohol in stoves, typically using a small, pressurized tank.
          Isn't grain alcohol pretty expensive?

          1. User avater
            Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #57

            ORIGO cooktop, Stephen. No need for additional pressure. Fossils are expensive (though not financially at the moment due to massive market and money distortions ending at some point), disgusting, and deadly. Grain? Well, you be the judge.

        2. Trevor Lambert | | #49

          Electricity is efficient to transport in comparison to other energy sources. Production can be efficient, but is dependent on the method.

          "When I ultimately produce alcohol from sugar or potatoes or grains myself (or pick up from the local distillery down the street)"
          Using sugar "yourself" has the about the same carbon footprint as buying the finished alcohol. It still has all the inputs to plant, harvest, process from cane into refined sugar, and transport to you. Ditto for the stuff from the local distillery. Potatoes or grains you grow yourself would eliminate the transport, but that's about it.

          Being able to drink the fuel source... I'm guessing this is a straight up joke? It's hard to tell. It's definitely irrelvant. If I want to drink alcohol, I can buy it or make it for that purpose. Having a dual purpose product for heating and drinking is of no practical benefit, other than saving you having to make separate purchases. I would never drink a commercial fuel alcohol, even if it's purported to be 100% pure. There are strict regulations that processors and purveyors of food and drink have to follow that do not apply to fuel sellers, a fact they are well aware of. If I distilled the alcohol myself, that's one thing, but there's no way I'd be trusting someone who not only has no idea you're going to drink the product, but the product is expressly made with the proviso that it's not for human consumption.

  6. Brian Nottage | | #19

    I live is Westchester County, NY, where the new policy is no natural gas lines are to be run. Electricity costs an astounding 25 cents a KWH here. I am an avid reader of GBA. I have done calcs with air source heat pumps when we did our renovation. They don’t pencil. I have a slate roof that no one will put solar on and does not have good solar visibility. Apartment projects are now being stalled due to this legislation. Tell me how, * right now*, these natural gas bans are practical solutions? I recently had a nice college kid from NYPIRG come to my door and explain how great all this is. Hey, I can get geothermal he said! Problem solved I guess. Even is this was viable (it.is.not), what do people in Yonkers or port Chester or New Rochelle ( the non rich suburbanites, vs the ones who push this stuff) do? Seriously, if you are are pushing this, it’s *your* responsibility to answer real life questions before you spend other people’s money ( that they may not have) with suboptimal unproven solutions (“there’s a Japanese company that makes a product”) with zero customer support infrastructure. Here’s a crazy idea: why can’t we actually plan a transition like realists? Go with this sort of impractical stuff and I guarantee you lose soft environmentalists like me. And I have a hunch there are more people like me than you think, however much my response may grate on your ears.

    1. User avater
      Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #23

      Unfunded government mandates - gotta love 'em! (Meantime, the feral guvmnt continues to subsidize the $h*t out of fossil production and "consumption" since fossil madness alone backs fiat currencies that keep global trade programs afloat another day - the only thing between bankers and their abyss. As for the rest of us - do we even matter? Not until enough of us organize and act.)

      1. User avater
        Dana Dorsett | | #27

        >"Unfunded government mandates - gotta love 'em!"

        Mandating that "...no natural gas lines are to be run..." in Westchester county the doesn't exactly call for funding from any source. It's a mandate sure, but it needs no funding. The meaning of "unfunded mandate" gets a bit distorted in this context.

        While at the (subsidized) residential retail cost of gas a cold climate heat pump may not pencil out at 25 cents/kwh electricity (with complex subsidy & rate making), if the externalities of the gas were included in the retail price and the fossil fuel subsidies went away it's not clear that the heat pump wouldn't win the low total-cost competition, in Westchester.

        >"I have done calcs with air source heat pumps when we did our renovation. They don’t pencil.

        Net metered community solar power would be one way around the cost issue in Westchester. At Westchester insolation levels and current cost of smaller scale solar, the levelized cost of the PV output over a 20 year lifecycle is about 15 cents/kwh, with no other subsidy than net-metering. If taking the federal tax credits, selling the SREC credits and other subsidies the levelized cost is less than half that of the current residential retail rate.

        I haven't looked into the structure or cost of deals offered by this community solar group in Westchester, but if I lived there I would, and would run the math of heat pumps against that rather than the 25 cent/kwh standard utility rate:

        https://solarizewestchester.com/

        1. Brian Nottage | | #36

          >”While at the (subsidized) residential retail cost of gas a cold climate heat pump may not pencil out at 25 cents/kwh electricity (with complex subsidy & rate making), if the externalities of the gas were included in the retail price and the fossil fuel subsidies went away it's not clear that the heat pump wouldn't win the low total-cost competition, in Westchester.”

          None of the pricing you suggest is in place or likely to be anytime soon, however. This is an “assume we have a paddle” argument.

          I also stated that my home is not a candidate for solar. I have called numerous companies.

          I am not alone in these issues. So do you think cold turkey natural gas bans are wise?

          Addressing another comment about whether this was result of a quest to reduce CO2 emissions or lack of pipeline capacity, they are one in the same. Governor Cuomo would not allow more pipeline capacity in deference to environmental groups who want a cold turkey approach. The utility wants to build a pipeline and warned of this outcome. 100% environmental choice.

    2. User avater
      Stephen Sheehy | | #35

      Is the Westchester ban in place as a CO2 reduction or because of a lack of pipeline capacity?

      1. User avater
        Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #40

        I just remembered it's not a policy per se: Consolidated Edison has mandated this suspension. To wit, the utility provider suspended service as opposed to the state or county; however, it's effectively a state and county suspension as both are loaded with liberal NIMBYs who continue to bar mined-methane pipelines from being constructed into and across lower New York State.

        Also, I was riffing on Brian's initial comment. Mea culpa.

        1. User avater
          Stephen Sheehy | | #41

          As I'm sure you know, ng pipelines are hugely expensive. And once built, they are an impediment to getting off fossil fuels, because whoever built them needs ratepayers to pay for them.
          Probably going to be a lot of stranded fossil fuel assets around that will generate lots of fights over who gets the bill.

          1. User avater
            Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #43

            Yes, I know: "Stranded fossil fuel assets" is part and parcel of the fiat money program - see my comment above on "unfunded government mandates" if it pleases you. Such stranded assets are essential to continued functioning of bankster fiat money schemes, as it requires the rapid replacement of said assets by other even more toxic assets - it's how toxic money persists, as I'm sure you know. Toxic money, toxic food, toxic fuel, toxic wood... starting to add up to a seriously toxic world, non?

    3. John Clark | | #51

      Quiet my proletariat friend. There are smart people working on this who know better than you. Trust them as they will insure that everyone, except themselves, is equally as miserable as you.

    4. Tyler Keniston | | #54

      "Here’s a crazy idea: why can’t we actually plan a transition like realists? Go with this sort of impractical stuff and I guarantee you lose soft environmentalists like me."

      Brian. You make good points. The environmental movement shouldn't be tailored only to those with the necessary financial padding.

      I might make a cautionary argument, however, that there is a fine line between realism and complacency that is easily blurred if we are not vigilant.

      Should all gas be cut off cold turkey? Probably not. My fear is that your premise may be too easily construed to read as follows:
      'Pursuing non-established energy technologies is too expensive for the masses given lack of existing infrastructure and higher upfront (and perhaps operating) costs. Therefore, established regimes should continue- not only to exist, but to be further developed.'

      I think we're better off actually creating change if we can read the issue you bring up as follows:
      For monumental changes to occur in the energy sector, there will be expenses. These expenses must be weighed against the currently externalized expenses of the energy sector. These expenses should also not put undue burden on those without the wherewithal to meet a high standard of living.

  7. Brian Nottage | | #22

    To clarify how this affects existing home owners. If you want to renovate or expand your house, you will not be given additional natural gas capacity. The exception appears to be installing a generator. This is a useful exception because an Tree ordinance has been passed that among others things makes the electric company get permission from the town engineer before taking down trees that threaten power lines. The last storm, where trees took down power lines as they routinely do, was fun.

  8. Kristin Anderson | | #25

    I’ve been trialing a cheap $100 induction cooktop for a month now and can attest that it is better than gas and better than a regular old electric cooktop. It offers more control over the heating and has a built-in timer. So now I can cook my steel cut oats for fifteen minutes and multitask and worry about burning breakfast again. Also, the induction cooktop doesn’t heat up the kitchen, which is especially awesome during the summer. I do a lot of cooking myself, at least daily, and do not think I’ll go back to crappy electric cooktops or gas burners.

    What do you folks recommend for ovens?

    1. User avater
      John Heckendorn | | #29

      Kristin, electric ovens are inherently more functionally versatile than gas, but beyond that, any recommendation would depend on how one will utilize the oven. While some people need/prefer nothing more than a microwave oven, others wouldn't be satisifed with anything less than something like a Miele DGC-series solution.

      1. Kristin Anderson | | #42

        OMG, a WiFi steam oven? “Crispy on the outside, succulent on the inside.” Thanks for blowing my mind. xo

    2. John Clark | | #52

      Come back after a year. Are you sure it's a $100 cook top and not a $100 induction plate?

      I'd like to see this $100 induction cook top.

      1. Kristin Anderson | | #63

        Is this not an induction cooktop?
        Duxtop E200A High End Full Glass... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HHZ7BLG?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

        I got it on sale for $87 back in July. It’s so cool! There’s only one annoying thing about it, which is the high pitch sound it emits when turned up high. I think I bought it after my contractor suggested an induction cooktop as the final step in weaning off NG.. and then the next day I was at the Electrify Everything manifesto webpage and that sealed it.

        1. Trevor Lambert | | #64

          I'm guessing what John is getting at is that "cooktop" is commonly referring to a permanently installed, counter depth appliance with (usually) four or more cooking zones. While the Duxtop E200A is certainly a cooktop, it's a portable one that most people will not consider as a replacement for a full size cooktop.

          1. Malcolm Taylor | | #75

            Trevor,

            There was a poster here a couple of years ago who has set up his kitchen in an interesting way. As I recall he had a two burner induction cooktop and some single portable units he could use anywhere on the counters. The idea still appeals to me.

          2. John Clark | | #82

            Bingo

        2. John Clark | | #81

          No, that's commonly called an induction plate

      2. Chris Charron | | #71

        $150 cooktop I bought last night. Nice people replaced it with a gas unit instead of learning to cook with induction. Win for me.

        For us, building a new house, the cooktop was potentially the only appliance we would have wanted gas for. Natural Gas was prohibitively expensive to trench to the property, and the total cost of propane tank+install is at least equal to spending $1500 or $2000 on a decent induction cooktop/range. Now it makes it easier to justify the Zehnder and Sanden systems.

        TLDR: Building a new home, chose induction over gas, even though not required by ordinance. Cost, convenience, IAQ all were factors.

        1. Malcolm Taylor | | #74

          Nice score!

        2. User avater
          Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #80

          The HRV/Sanden double down on house conditioning effectiveness - nice. As I noted elsewhere, I did Lunos/Sanden. Induction/conduction cooktops... electric seems to fit somewhere, and the ethyl alcohol burners are great if a bit more hands on. The flame from pure alcohol is beautiful, and my pans already are in love with them. I know beauty is unwelcome here, but for me it is one of the top performance metrics. That induction cooktop is pretty slick - and tough to beat the price.

  9. Lance Peters | | #31

    Affordable induction cooktop options are available now for not much more than the cost of a decent electric cooktop. Surely the price difference would be less than the additional cost of having a gas fitter install the additional line into the kitchen for a gas range.

  10. User avater
    Dana Dorsett | | #37

    >"It makes one wonder, then, how minisplits have achieved the considerable level of success they have, given that as a solution they share so much in common with EcoCute, and would experience the same headwinds of inertia, education (i.e., lack of), and incumbent infrastructure."

    Huh?

    EcoCute heat pumps have next to nothing in common with R22 or R410A refrigerant mini-splits, other than in the broadest terms of both being air source heat pumps. The cabinet and blower of the outdoor unit may look similar, but that's about it. Mini-splits modulate, EcoCute's don't. Mini-splits deliver tepid to warm air at low delta-Ts (working fluid in to out at the indoor heat exchanger), EcoCutes deliver hot water at high delta-Ts (in the in-tank heat exchanger). One of the limitations of using EcoCute technology efficiently for space heating is the relatively low delta-Ts from too-high return water temps in heating systems. (It works better in radiant slabs than in hydro-air handlers or radiators.)

    Tank-top heat pump water heaters have more in common with mini-splits, but that's a bit of a stretch too.

    Mini-splits got a toe-hold in the US market as better-quieter-more-efficient room air conditioners than through-wall AC and PTACs. It took at least 2 decades and some compressor innovations before they began to be taken seriously for space heating. Even now they tend to draw a blank stare from heating contractors except in a few regions of the US, and even where they're becoming more common there's still a level of (misplaced) distrust about their actual capacity at low temps.

    The NEEA (Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance) utility consortium in the Pacific Northwest has been promoting ductless heat pumps and validating them in-situ for about a decade now. This wasn't a marketing push by the mini-split vendors, it was an electricity use reduction effort by the utility organizations, part of an overall efficiency effort to forestall the need for more generation & transmission capacity. The first phase progress report came out in early 2010:

    https://neea.org/img/uploads/nwDuctlessHeatPumpPilotProject1027F6F74B193.pdf

    The NEEP (Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships) has made similar efforts in New England, starting somewhat later than the Northwest Ductless Heat Pump Pilot Project.

    The NEEA was also the first to assess the Sanden EcoCute for the PNW climate:

    https://neea.org/img/uploads/laboratory-assessment-of-sanden-ges-15qta-heat-pump-water-heater.pdf

    ...and also participated in assessing the Sanden EcoCute as a combi-space heater:

    https://www.phnw.org/assets/2018Conference/Presentations/PHNW%202018%20PPT.pdf

    1. User avater
      Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #44

      I ended up going with a Sanden for hot water, electric wall panel heaters from Runtal, HRVs by Lunos, wood insulation by Gutex, and wood/glass windows by RIEDER to manage climate and inputs in an unfossiled manner here in the Hudson Valley (electric heat! well, the house is insulated enough to make it effective IMHO). Alcohol burners with 200 proof grain ethyl alcohol is off to a great start. Wood cooking stove, of course, in in the works. Still on the fence for electric burners and stove - the EMFs (go ahead and argue the science all you want) kill induction stoves, of course; however, I'm considering convection still.

      All of the heat pumps create lots of noise pollution, as we all know - never comes up in discussions, and I'm committed to maintaining nonviolent ambient conditions. And I had to cut my losses with the Sanden there for better and worse.

      My plumber talked me out of doubling up with the Sanden for heat AND hot water, as double dipping from the same pump can cause long-term issues in his opinion.

      1. Malcolm Taylor | | #46

        "electric heat! well, the house is insulated enough to make it effective IMHO"

        If you can get a COP of 2 for a mini-split, doesn't that mean you could have insulated half as much and still used the same amount of energy? (I know that's a bit of a simplification).

        1. User avater
          Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #47

          No.

          1. Lance Peters | | #53

            Gregg, please explain how halving your insulation would not result in doubling your heating energy requirements.

          2. User avater
            Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #58

            Lance, I don't do computations in vacuums like others seem to do every day in every way. Sorry. I appreciate the solicitation, to be sure.

          3. Malcolm Taylor | | #62

            Greg,

            Given your answer to Lance, I guess the answer really isn't no.

          4. Matt F | | #66

            I think the analysis starts with, first you get some grain alcohol...

            One thing to consider is that high insulation levels in the real world can lower the heating balance point (outside temp when the heating system generally needs to turn on). A balance point is a simplification of a dynamic situation. Doubling or halving insulation doesn't one for one map to heating input requirements.

            I assume a mini split and Sanden water heater have similar install costs (big assumption). A Sanden with electric heating would make sense only if the heating load for the house is less than the hot water load.

          5. User avater
            Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #78

            A bit of grain alcohol would help almost everyone in this group, indeed. The way some of you toss around generic terms (e.g., "insulation" as if it were one universal product with one universal performance metric produced in one universal way with one universal lifecycle and one universal embodied energy and one universal composition and one universal... you get the picture) as if they actually possessed meaning and THEN solicit someone well aware of this construct being nonsense on its face to do work for free to prove or disprove a silly theory... one might start to sense that one is writing to blind eyes - or at least eyes unwilling or unable to see the forest for the trees.

        2. Malcolm Taylor | | #73

          Matt,

          "Doubling or halving insulation doesn't one for one map to heating input requirements."

          Quite right - and there are all manner of other perfectly valid reasons to increase insulation levels - and to choose resistance electric heat. I'm just not sure Greg's analysis was one of them.

          1. User avater
            Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #79

            I'm certain Malcolm's analysis was one of them. Mine OTOH? SMH - this loser accounts for inputs as far as the eye can see and then some. It's not the way of the engineer or market-driven contractor, I know. Where's the door?

      2. User avater
        Dana Dorsett | | #67

        >"My plumber talked me out of doubling up with the Sanden for heat AND hot water, as double dipping from the same pump can cause long-term issues in his opinion."

        Double dipping from the same heat pump isn't the problem- it's the very real engineering problem of getting the heating system to work efficiently with a CO2 refrigerant heat pump. (In the immediate term, not the long term.)

        Some of those issues are hinted at in this field-study of using Sanden EcoCute water heaters as combi-systems. Start on slide 17 (p 17 in PDF) under Return Temp:

        https://www.phnw.org/assets/2018Conference/Presentations/PHNW%202018%20PPT.pdf

        Building a combi out of a Sanden is more than just an exercise in plumbing, and at the far fringes of hydronic heating design.

        1. User avater
          Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #68

          Right call for the wrong (sort of) reason: Phew!

          Selling systems that don't do what they're sold to do is curious on their part. I look forward many hours on the phone with Sanden this winter!

          FWIW, EcoCute is one of the saddest attempts at an engaging term for a product or product lineup in this field anyone could ever have conjured. Pretty sure the fossil and fiat-money industry players had something to do with attaching such a pathetic name here to ensure nobody except hard-core types would purchase them.

          1. Matt F | | #69

            EcoCute is pretty normal as far as Japanese naming goes.

            From Wikipedia:

            Etymology
            The name of the EcoCute comes from the Japanese phrase Shizen Reibai Hīto Ponpu Kyūtō-ki (自然冷媒ヒートポンプ給湯機), which literally means "natural refrigerant heat pump water heater".[1] Eco is a contraction of either ecology or economical and Cute is a near homonym to kyūtō (給湯); literally “supply hot water.”[2]

          2. User avater
            Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #70

            Yes - akin to the the Chevy Nova being pretty normal as American motor vehicles go... just not so hot in, say, the Spanish-speaking world. ;-)

          3. User avater
            Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #77

            "...“no va” can be literally translated as “no go” - SNOPES

  11. Matt F | | #45

    I’ll take electric resistance any day if that is what is on offer. Learn to cook, have fun:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AKuWmql8bC0

  12. User avater
    Stephen Sheehy | | #59

    Gregg. How does the alcohol get to the burner? What's the process whereby a jug of alcohol gets into the burner and is ignited? Is there a tank attached? I'm trying to see how your stove replaces a typical cooktop.

    When I had a boat, we had an alcohol stove. It took forever to boil water. What's the output in btus of your stove?

    1. User avater
      Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #60

      The top face sort of pops open. You fill periodically the special canisters, which you cover with a seal when not in use, with ethyl alcohol (not the poison stuff at the hardware store). With the top in place and the canister seal removed, you turn the dial in front and slide a lit match into the burner slot. The burner activates when the lit match slides into the hole far enough and you're good to go. I'll look into the BTU stats; suffice it to write that using actual ethyl alcohol and not compromised fuel makes all the difference.

      https://www.westmarine.com/buy/marine-air--origo-3000-alcohol-stove--13781505 ORIGO link

    2. User avater
      Gregg Zuman (NY) | | #83

      Stephen, hi. Per this chart, it seems from a heat perspective you'd be boiling water, e.g., with organic ethyl alcohol at a clip about 1/3 slower than you would with naturally toxic "natural" gas: https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/heating-values-fuel-gases-d_823.html Of course if you factor in any sort of metric whatsoever around the systematic worldwide destruction and desecration of land, ecology, water, habitat, et cetera around production and processing of each product (and anticipating the day petrol products disappear from the agricultural sector), then it's sort of a no-brainer which fuel comes out on top - not to mention one effectively can grow one's own fuel, which is the problem the powers-that-be have with alcohol in the first place; to wit, it empowers farmers, families, and communities to maintain strong bonds and vibrant collectives - and pay fewer taxes to the man and less "interest" to the bankster. (Also, banksters LOVE to fund war - and they're helping anyone keen to prosecute it pursue it on, in, and under as much of the Earth as they can manage via fossil "production" methods; when citizens choose to use alcohol, e.g., to meet their basic living needs instead of fossils, the fiat financial model in favor today falters just a bit more. Too many people return to farming, community, and tribal based ecological life and death and their whole toxic cart topples...)

  13. Matt F | | #65

    Anyone have any information on energy consumption related to residential cooking? The article cites this:
    "Space heating and cooking account for almost a third of the natural gas burned in the U.S. "

    The gas range is something people have feelings about and it is clearly a catchy headline, but my gut is that is cooking energy consumption is pretty low. Here in the northeast, heating accounts for approximately 85-90% of my gas consumption, followed by water heating, with cooking likely coming in low single digits. In Berkeley, the mix is likely different.

    I personally wouldn't want to pay the monthly minimum hookup fee just to have a gas stove ($13.20/month here). I've cooked for some pretty spectacular dinner parties on a two burner electric resistance insert in a TINY galley kitchen. Electric ranges have a similar time response to gas, you just have to pick the pan up...

    I think there might be more compelling safety and air quality reasons to eliminate gas use for residential cooking when compared to CO2 related reasons just due the scale.

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