What you should know before a ban – West Side Rag

There will be new incentives to switch from gas to electric or induction cookers.
The City Council has banned gas in many new buildings in New York City starting in 2024. | PhotoCuisinette/Shutterstock.

By Samantha Maldonado, THE CITY

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A smoldering debate over gas stoves recently boiled over.

A federal agency last week proposed phasing out the use of gas appliances, and the response has been overheated across the country. But in New York, the idea is not new.

Two years ago, the city council moved to ban the installation of gas stoves in new buildings. Earlier this week, the governor proposed more regulations as part of efforts to tackle climate change.

Here’s what you need to know about the problem – and how to get rid of your gas stove if you want to:

What’s so bad about gas stoves anyway?

Gas stoves can pollute the indoor air in a home by releasing large amounts of nitrogen dioxide, as well as particulate matter and carbon monoxide. It has been found that even gas stoves that are off emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that warms the planet.

Exposure to such pollutants can result in negative consequences for respiratory and cardiovascular health. A 2013 study estimated that children growing up in households with gas stoves were 42% more likely to have asthma symptoms than children in households with electric stoves.

In New York, 18.8% of childhood asthma cases could be prevented if households did not have gas stoves, according to a study published in December.

Given these health impacts, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is interested in reducing “indoor air quality hazards,” including those posed by gas stoves, according to a expression by the commission chairman. The CPSC does not currently regulate gas stoves, and there is certainly no ban in the works.

What’s the latest on gas stove bans in New York? And can I keep my existing one?

In a few years, new buildings in New York City will not be allowed to have gas ranges in kitchens or other fossil-fuel appliances.

The city council passed legislation in 2021 effectively banning gas in new buildings, beginning in 2024 for buildings under seven stories and in 2027 for all taller buildings. It is an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change.

But there’s nothing in the law that would rip gas stoves out of kitchens that already have them installed.

Environmental activists gather in front of City Tech in downtown Brooklyn on May 3, 2022 to support the state's climate plan to limit gas use.
Environmental activists gather in downtown Brooklyn to support gas caps in the state climate plan, May 3, 2022. Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY.

At the state level, Gov. Kathy Hochul recently backed a similar ban on fossil fuels in new homes, as outlined in the state’s annual speech on Tuesday. Starting in 2025 for smaller buildings and 2028 for larger buildings, it is an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in this sector to zero, Hochul said.

The governor also wants to ban the sale of heaters that burn fossil fuels by 2030 for smaller buildings and 2035 for larger buildings. However, according to Katy Zielinski, spokeswoman for Hochul, this proposal does not apply to gas stoves. That means restaurants that pride themselves on flame grilling needn’t be immediately concerned, according to Eater NY.

I have a gas range now, but I’d like to try something different. What can I do?

If you own a house or apartment, you can replace your gas stove with an electric stove or an induction stove, which uses magnetic current to generate heat.

Seth Frader-Thompson, president of technology company EnergyHub, went electric throughout his Fort Greene townhouse, from the stove to the home’s heating system. He and his wife cook a lot, Frader-Thompson said, so he worried he wouldn’t like the experience with an induction stove, but it’s now sold.

Chef Sia Pickett works on an induction oven at the Mott Haven cooking class.  February 11, 2022.
A cooking instructor works on an induction stove at a cooking class in Mott Haven. 11 February 2022. | Hiram Alejandro Durán/ THE CITY.

“Your ventilation requirements for your range hoods are much lower. The amount of heat you feel when cooking is much less. Cleaning is a lot easier,” he said. “In the end, it really feels like there are no downsides to moving.”

Frader-Thompson recommended going to appliance showrooms to get a feel for induction cooktops in person. Some sellers will have you boil a pot of water to test it.

There is a learning curve when it comes to cooking food. Everything heats up much faster than, for example, with gas.

NYCHA tenant Shavon Marino received an induction stove in her Bronx apartment last year as part of an experiment to test indoor air quality, THE CITY previously reported. She took some getting used to cooking with it, but now she’s a pro.

“Since the stove is part of my life, I come home much happier. I can cook better,” said Marino, who prepared Thanksgiving dinner for eight. “It’s so simple. I love it. I never want to go back to a gas stove.”

How do I actually exchange an area?

If you’ve never worked with electricity and gas before, be sure to hire a professional to remove your furnace and install a new one. Find out what options the electronics store has for the delivery and disposal of your old stove.

Note that you may need to upgrade your home’s electrical system to handle a new electric range. This can be more complicated in an apartment building, and the effort may require support from your neighbors or the Co-op board.

First, make sure you have a 220/240 volt outlet that can support an electric stove. An electrician can easily do this. You may need to hire an electrician to increase the capacity of the US standard 110/120 volt outlet. You can also call your gas supplier to shut off the gas supply after the furnace is installed – although Frader-Thompson, who hired a contractor, didn’t do this.

“Just in case we hate the induction cooktop, we ran a gas line behind the cooktop,” he said. But he doesn’t think his family will ever use it.

But I’m a tenant. What options do I have?

Although a renter cannot necessarily get the gas stove out of their unit without permission from the landlord, renters can always request an electrical replacement if a gas stove dies.

And renters can buy an electric or induction cooktop to use instead of relying on a gas range – although you may need to keep an eye on your electricity consumption.

Consider Shay O’Reilly, an organizer for the environmental nonprofit, the Sierra Club, who lives in Flatbush, Brooklyn, with his husband and daughter. His old apartment has a gas stove, but he hasn’t used it for months. Last summer, he bought a two-burner induction cooktop and toaster that fits a 9″ x 13″ skillet. He turned off the valve connected to the gas range and placed a countertop over the burners.

“The only annoying thing about our setup is that we can’t turn on the kettle and toaster at the same time. That would short out the circuit,” O’Reilly said.

But he has no other complaints. The switch, which cost about $200, hasn’t stopped him from baking whole fried chickens, birthday cakes, peach pies and tons of muffins and brownies, he said.

He has noticed that the kitchen doesn’t get as hot when cooking and feels better when his toddler participates in the meal preparation.

“Not having the fire there makes it a lot safer if she’s helping us,” he said.

Andres Salomon, a stay-at-home parent and former computer programmer, swapped his gas stove for an induction stove when his family bought a home in Forest Hills about two years ago. He suggested buying a smaller induction burner like O’Reilly’s to get a feel for the difference if you’re unsure about discarding your gas range.

“You can just try it out and you don’t have to change anything in the wiring or anything. Just place it on your countertop and plug it in,” said Saloman. “It’s like a hotplate. You can test your pots and pans to make sure they work.”

With conventional electric stoves, almost any cookware is sufficient. But induction cookers require certain materials: cast iron, enamelled or ceramic-coated. You can test whether your cookware is suitable for an induction hob by seeing if a magnet is sticking; If it does, the cookware is working. To avoid buying new pots and pans, you can also purchase a converter disc that fits the bottom of your cookware.

How much will this cost me?

The cheapest induction cooktops can cost around $1,000. A survey of 90 people found the average price to be around $2,200.

A new electric or induction cooktop could get a lot cheaper with the $433 billion federal inflation-reducing law passed last year. The legislation provides $4.5 billion for states to offer rebates on electrical appliance purchases, so you could qualify for a new stove for as much as $840. Additional tax credits are available for upgrading a breaker box or electrical wiring. This calculator can give you a sense of what you can qualify for.

The New York State Energy and Research Development Agency said it will distribute those funds as soon as the federal Department of Energy allocates them.

Jeffrey Weber, a real estate manager at Weber Realty Management, which has a portfolio of 40 buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn, told THE CITY that if they don’t pass the required inspections, it’s often cheaper and faster to upgrade the electrical system than upgrade gas lines . That’s why he’s encouraged the apartment buildings he works with to step on the gas.

Weber says he’s telling condo and co-op boards that “gas regulations are getting stricter and gas line maintenance is becoming prohibitively expensive, so it’s best to bite the bullet now.”

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