There has been significant coverage of the major health and climate-related components of the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law last Tuesday. One particular incentive offers both health and climate benefits – and is getting minimal attention. A program that can increase personal and planetary health at the same time deserves a closer look.
Among the incentives for home appliances is an $840 rebate for Energy Star-certified electric ranges and cooktops. If the prospect of a traditional radiant burner cooking experience doesn’t light your culinary fire, it’s not surprising. Most serious cooks prefer gas to electric for its cooking performance.
The good news is that there’s better non-gas cooking technology embraced by home and professional chefs alike. “It is important to remember that induction stoves are also considered electric due to their power source,” explains Stephanie Vega Ziegler, building products retail giant Ferguson’s director of environmental product strategy. Induction burners use electromagnetic technology to efficiently heat a conductive pot or pan and many serious cooks prefer it to gas, as well as radiant, cooking surfaces.
“Homeowners and renters will need to wait until 2023 to receive the benefit for many items covered under the household electrification incentive when upgrading,” Ziegler says, and notes that they’ll be available over the next 10 years. She sees the legislation’s incentives possibly boosting demand for induction appliances, and manufacturers potentially responding with more offerings at more price points. “If there is a significant increase, manufacturers will innovate to make these products more affordable.” This increases demand even further, ‘democratizing’ the product for a wider market. “What has once been considered a luxury item becomes more accessible,” Ziegler predicts.
The retail executive gives the example of touchless faucets becoming more widespread and affordable because of pandemic demand. (California’s energy codes have had the same effect on LEDs as a more efficient lighting source.) It’s likely that this new legislation – along with residential gas bans spreading across the country – will do the same for induction cooking.
Why does induction technology deserve a larger share of the cooking appliance market, aside from its energy savings? “Induction offers impeccable response time,” shares Ziegler. “Induction cooktops can bring water to a boil 25 to 50% faster than gas.” That means dinner hits the table faster on busy weeknights, a time saver for harried parents and an incentive to cook at home, (often a much healthier option than takeout). Induction cooktops are also much faster to clean since there’s never cooked-on food to scrub off of burners.
Ziegler also touts this technology’s performance benefits: “Induction cooktops allow you to cook at a specific temperature, offering more precision, making induction popular with residential and commercial gourmet chefs.”
One of induction’s wellness benefits is its safety feature: Since the heating elements only heat the pot through magnetic conduction, there’s no flame to ignite an errant sleeve or shirttail. There’s also none of the carcinogenic gases emitted from gas burners – even when they’re not on!
Last but not least, in warmer climate areas, many welcome induction technology because it keeps kitchens cooler; an induction cooktop doesn’t heat the entire room as radiant and gas cooktops do.
“Homeowners are starting to ask for induction, which wasn’t the case several years ago,” the Ferguson executive reports. She sees the increased interest resulting from manufacturers both improving their offerings and providing educational programs. “They specifically focused on educating designers so they can educate their clients on the many benefits.” She adds that designers also came to realize through these programs that an induction cooktop or stove can be easily integrated into modern kitchen designs. (Their sleek shapes definitely fit well into streamlined styles.)
One major reason for the increase in demand, Ziegler notes, is the lack of gas lines to some homes; this is likely to increase with residential gas bans being implemented across the country. There are already 20 states with these in place or set to start. The same is true for cities, including New York.
“At the same time, [homeowners] want an appliance upgrade, and induction offers just that,” Ziegler declares. Healthier households with greater functionality, health, safety and, yes, energy efficiency for a healthier planet is a tremendous benefit of this legislation. (And there was not one single mention of induction’s wellness potential in the President’s announcement – or in any of the coverage that I’ve spotted yet.)
“The Inflation Reduction Act’s rebates and tax breaks are incredibly encouraging for American homeowners, many of whom have not been able to afford the cost of energy-efficient appliances, solar panels and other clean technologies,” comments Greg Fasullo, CEO of residential energy solutions company Elevation, “Not only will these incentives remove the barrier to a cleaner, more efficient and affordable lifestyle for these homeowners, it will improve the value of homes.” This is particularly true as wellness features have evolved from ‘nice to have’ home elements to ‘must haves’ for many homebuyers after Covid drove everyone into their houses.
In the coming years, customers will be able to take advantages of these incentives when they make their major purchases. “Homeowners can use the 30% tax credit on home efficiency upgrades for qualifying items as well,” Fasullo points out, urging anyone planning home upgrades to research their eligibility with a knowledgeable tax professional. Your tax advisor can’t weigh in on your health benefits, but your doctor sure can.