How to stop cooking with gas as a renter

Induction cooktops, small kitchen appliances, helpful landlords, and more

In recent years, many Americans have become aware of what public health experts have known for decades: Cooking with gas is bad for both human health and the planet. 

A recent study found that 13 percent of all childhood asthma cases can be linked to gas stoves. Gas stoves are also responsible for more than 25 million tons of carbon emissions in the U.S. each year, equivalent to the annual emissions of a half-dozen coal power plants.

These findings have encouraged many homeowners around the country to consider ditching their gas stoves in favor of cleaner alternatives like induction and traditional electric cooktops. But many Americans don’t own the home they live in. That can make things tricky when it comes to replacing big appliances. 

If you’re a renter concerned about the health and climate impacts of your gas stove, fear not! We interviewed renters around the country who are finding ways to significantly reduce how much they use their gas stoves — or stop entirely — even if they can’t actually get rid of them. 

While cutting out gas use entirely is ideal, it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition: Even a 50 percent reduction in gas stove usage can bring big health and climate benefits. Here are some of the ways that renters are doing just that.

Even a50% reduction in gas stove usage can bring big health and climate benefits.

Small kitchen appliances can be a big help

Andrew Clark, a mechanical engineer who lives in the Venice Beach neighborhood of Los Angeles, spends a lot of his time at work thinking about electrification. But at home, he’s pretty tied to gas for the time being. The portion of a house that he and his wife rent has a gas stove (and oven) and gas heating. 

Clark has known about the health risks associated with gas stoves for years. But after his son was born about a year ago, those risks started to feel more urgent. “There's a lot of information out there that says, especially at a very young age, air quality can have a big impact on health outcomes for people over the course of their lives,” he said.

Gas appliances versus electric appliances

Three small appliances have made it possible for Clark and his wife to cut way back on the use of gas for cooking: an electric kettle, an Instant Pot, and an air fryer.

They use the kettle to boil water on a daily basis, including for baby formula. The Instant Pot has proved to be an easy substitute for the stovetop, and the air fryer serves the same purpose as the oven. Compared with meals prepared in the oven, Clark said, “I could probably say that we just like the outcome from the air fryer better.”

Sometimes, of course, they still use the stove or the oven. When they do, they’re careful to always turn on the range hood, which in their case actually vents the air out of the house. (Some range hoods, especially in apartments, just recirculate the air indoors.)

Other small appliances that renters have found success with include microwaves, toaster ovens, and one- or two-burner portable induction cooktops.

Viktor Köves, a climate-conscious software developer who lives in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago, bought a portable induction cooktop after realizing that his gas stove was having a significant impact on indoor air quality.

He’d started using an air quality sensor while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic — not because of the stove, but because he’d wanted to prevent his space from getting stuffy and affecting his concentration.

“What I realized is that anytime I used the stove, whether it was the top or just the oven, my CO2 levels went up, my [particulates] went up, my volatile organics I think also went up,” Koves said.

“Even if it was just, like, running the oven with cookies, like nothing was burning or charring, my air would just dramatically get worse,” he added.

Köves ordered a single-burner portable induction cooktop that had been recommended by Wirecutter and cost roughly $100. Like many Chicago residents, he’d been around gas stoves all his life. But when he started using induction, he loved it. “It was just always on my counter,” he said, “and I’d just always be using that as much as possible.”

Rachel, a renter in Chicago that we spoke with, told us something similar. “My partner and I bought an inexpensive portable induction burner, plugged it in next to the stove, and it has been such a delight,” she said. “It is easy to keep clean, and has such a great range between low and high heat that I can't imagine ever going back.”

Consider talking to your landlord

Depending on how long you plan to live in your home and what your relationship is like with your landlord, it may be worth asking them whether they’d consider replacing your gas stove with an induction one. In some cases, that’ll be a tough sell. But your landlord may be receptive, especially if they see the new stove as something that future tenants will value.

We’ve created a resource to help you talk to your landlord about electrification, with suggested talking points and other helpful information to share. Check out our landlord guide here.

These days, Köves still lives in the same building, but he doesn’t need to use the portable cooktop very often because he no longer has a gas stove. Köves first approached his landlord about switching to induction a year or so ago. The stove wasn’t lighting properly and had started leaking methane into his home, which seemed like as good a time as any to bring it up.

“I was very nervous about this conversation,” he said, “because I think as any renter knows, landlords are not usually throwing in free upgrades.”

His landlord, who was relatively young, was willing to consider it. But his landlord was put off by the fact that induction stoves are incompatible with certain types of pans, including aluminum. He was worried about renters moving in and realizing they’d have to replace their cookware. (It turns out, most cookware is compatible with induction stoves, high-quality cookware that works with induction has gotten very affordable, and there are adapters available that make it possible to use any cookware with induction, albeit less efficiently. But Köves was not aware of those facts at the time.) 

Köves and his landlord settled on a glass-topped electric stove. And they agreed to split the cost of buying and installing the stove. It came out to around $800 apiece.

Köves has mixed feelings about having had to pay for part of the upgrade himself. Switching from gas to electric typically requires some rewiring, making it more complicated for landlords than a simple replacement. For Köves, spending $800 on a stove he’ll use until he moves out was a worthwhile investment in his health and the climate. But he’s conscious that not everyone has that option.

Product guides to help you electrify your kitchen

Many of the renters we interviewed told us they have been able to cut their gas use by 50 to 80 percent by using small-but-mighty electric appliances. Here are some of the products they’ve used to electrify their kitchens and links to reviews by websites like Wirecutter and The Spruce: 

Rewiring America is the leading electrification nonprofit working to electrify our homes, businesses, and communities.

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