Gas Burners: Introduction

Each Sunday at CookingManager.Com we analyze the efficiency of different kitchen appliance in depth.

When we talk about appliances we rarely think about our most basic cooking tool, the gas burners that rest on top of the stove or counter. Many American cooks use the microwave and conventional oven more frequently than gas burners.  Yet few of us would give them up entirely. In some locations, ovens are rare because of their size and high energy requirements.

Efficiency of gas burners. Cooking with gas requires little preheating. And the only special utensils you need are a simple pot or pan and a spoon or spatula. And once the contents of the pot have boiled, even large quantities can be cooked with a small amount of energy. Still, much of the heat from a gas burner is lost and it not always the most efficient method.

In the old days gas burners were lit by a pilot light, match, or special ignition tool.  Pilot lights are dangerous because they can go out without notice, leaving natural gas to leak into the kitchen. They require a continuous flame, so they use large amounts of gas and heat the house even when you don’t need it. A few years ago manufacturers began including ignitions that light the burner when you turn on the gas.

Even without a pilot light, gas burners can leak. Once I came home to a house full of gas. The babysitter had made coffee, but did not turn the gas off completely. If you are in the market for a new gas stovetop, look for one with a sensor. A sensor is a safety feature that turns off the gas when the flame goes out.  On my model the sensor makes it tricky to turn on the gas, but with kids around this is a good thing. And I’m happy not to have to worry about gas leaks anymore.

A gas burner (unlike an electric stovetop) is one of the few heating appliances that does not use a thermostat.

Look for tips in Part II, Saving Energy with a Gas Burner, which will appear next Sunday.