Pulling the plug on gas’s lifeline

AKA, why we started with a cooktop 

The stove is the most difficult home appliance to electrify.

Not because a stove is technically any harder to switch out than a water heater, or a dryer. But because it is the appliance that people least want to electrify.

As stove electrification has entered America’s political and cultural arenas, there’s been lots of speculation on gas stoves’ staying power. But that’s not our focus for today.

Instead, we’re going to talk about how that staying power has turned gas stoves into a last lifeline for natural gas in our homes — and what we’re doing to change that.

Stoves are gas’s last lifeline

Last year, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication asked folks if they would prefer a home where all major appliances were powered by electricity.

The results they got were encouraging — 60% of Americans preferred a home where all or most major appliances were powered by electricity.

But if you look closer, you’ll find something more interesting.

Diagram adapted from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

Of the 50% of people who did not want to electrify (either fully or partially), more than half said they would electrify everything if they were able to keep a gas stove.

You read that right.

Stoves are the final link keeping American homes hooked up to gas.

Consumers are (literally) paying the price

Gas is an expensive habit.

You see, the natural gas industry doesn’t like when people electrify any of their appliances, but their biggest issue is when customers fully electrify their home.

This is because gas utilities don’t just make money for every unit of gas they deliver to your home. They make money just by keeping you as a customer.

If you look at a gas bill, you’ll see that gas utilities tack on lots of fixed and volume-based charges. The types of fees you’ll see depends on the state and the gas utility, but here’s some examples of what you might see on a bill:

  • Monthly customer or service charges: a fixed cost that each customer pays to cover billing, meter readings, and more 
  • Commodity charges: cover the cost of utiltiies doing business (e.g. salaries, returns on investment) 
  • Infrastructure replacement, maintenance, or improvement charges: covers gas pipe maintenance and improvements
  • Distribution charge: for delivering gas to you through the utility’s pipes 
  • Environmental adjustment charge: for cleaning up toxic waste at old gas manufacturing facilities
  • Storage costs: for storing a customer’s yearly supply of gas 
  • Taxes (state, municipal, and regulatory)

A lot of these fees are fixed — even if you only use a bit of gas, you’ll get charged the full amount. And many of them go to running the business of utilities, and maintaining or expanding their gas infrastructure. That means that even if you only keep gas running to your home for your stove, you’re footing the bill for their next pipeline.

So, you can see why gas utilities really want you to keep your gas hook-up — even if it’s just for your stove.

Which is why they’ve invested so heavily in the gas stove’s cultural staying power.

Where gas stoves got their staying power

In the 1930s, the gas industry was competing with electric stoves to replace coal in people’s kitchens. As part of their campaign, they came up with and then popularized the phrase “cooking with gas”.

It worked. People came to equate gas with performance — the control, responsiveness, reliability, and heating power of a flame. We don’t blame them; for much of the last century, gas has won on those fronts.

This phrase not only solidified the dominance of gas in the American home throughout the 20th century, but laid the foundations for today’s gas stove marketing.

Today, induction has proven that it outcompetes gas. But the gas industry pays influencers to spread the message that gas stoves are still the best you can buy. They tell their followers the same messages that the industry came up with nearly 100 years ago: that gas has better speed, control, reliability, and affordability. 

Screenshots of sponsored posts taken from Instagram. (Top left, clockwise: 1, 2, 3, 4.) 

They need everyone who is considering electrification to believe it. Because if people keep their gas stove, the gas industry gets to hold onto their lifeline.

[SIDE NOTE TO READERS: We all have to admit that the phrase “cooking with gas” is extremely cool and catchy. We need something just as good for induction. If you have an idea, share it with us here. If you come up with a better phrase than “cooking with gas”, we will literally put it on our website.]

How we’re pulling the plug

At Impulse, we just happened to design a product that obviously disproves the gas industry’s claims.

Induction has already been a strong competitor, but battery-powered induction doesn’t leave room for guesswork. Let’s do the math on how the Impulse cooktop measures up to gas’s standards:

  • Power: boil a liter of water in 40 seconds
  • Control: immediate, to-the-degree temperature monitoring and control
  • Reliability: use your battery to power your stove for multiple meals, even if your power goes out
  • Affordability: the Inflation Reduction Act, and local incentive programs, can reduce the cost of an Impulse stove by as much as 45%

By beating gas stoves at their own game, we aren’t just electrifying one appliance. We’re giving people the freedom to electrify their whole homes and break up with gas for good.

We’re pulling the plug on gas’s lifeline. 

Pulling the plug on gas’s lifeline