Hob Kettle vs Electric Kettle: Which Saves More Energy?

electric kettleIt’s a bit of an age-old conundrum and incites lots of discussions – some of them reasoned; some just plain silly and make us boiling mad (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun). To date, we’ve found no definitive answer to the question of whether it costs more to heat water using an electric kettle or a gas hob. We’ll try and reason it out here though.

Electric kettles and energy usage

According to Chris Goodall, author of ‘How to Live a Low Carbon Life’, an electric kettle uses around 4% of a household’s annual electricity. That’s because people tend to boil twice as much water as they need. They boil more water than they use, which is a waste of energy and money. Especially, when it’s boiled again half an hour later to make a second cup of tea.

If you’re guilty of boiling too much water, you might appreciate a kettle with a ‘cup indicator’ which indicates when there’s enough for just one cup. Other kettles available limit the amount of water you can boil at one time. And still others prevent water from reaching boiling point. This is actually better for herbal teas and certain types of filter coffee, anyway.

Gas kettles and carbon emissions

Goodall goes on to state in his book that he believes the whistling gas kettle is the most energy efficient mode of boiling water (in that it would save a typical household in the UK around £10 a year).

He admits that heat may be wasted if the flames run up the outside of the pan but this could be a good thing in terms of heating a home during the winter. Certainly a gas hob is far more energy efficient than an electric ring (which would use three times the energy that an electric kettle uses).

Again though, it would depend on how much water you put in the gas kettle

Other forms of heating water

Some researchers suggest that a microwave could be a cheaper way of heating up hot water since it’s easy to gauge exactly a cup’s worth of liquid, and it’s cheaper to run than either gas or conventional electric. However, you’d have to be careful of the water ‘exploding’ when you take it out. Reheating a cup of tea works well this way though.

Further, induction hobs can be an extremely efficient way of boiling a pan or kettle.

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