Are Induction Cooktops Energy-Efficient?

induction cooktop

When you have to purchase a new cooktop for your home, it makes sense that you buy a cooktop that is more energy-efficient than any of the other options you are considering. An energy-efficient cooktop can save you money from day one. People who are considering purchasing an induction cooktop often wonder whether it is true that induction cooktops are energy efficient.

Induction cooktops are definitely energy-efficient. Induction heating as such is very efficient and when it is applied to cooking it offers a very effective and efficient way of food preparation. About 90% of the energy used in induction cooking is used to actually cook the food. Only 10% of energy is lost or used for other purposes.

induction cooktop

In this article, we’ll briefly look at what induction cooking and induction cooktops actually are, and then we’ll discuss the reasons why it is so energy efficient. We’ll also provide a comparison table to enable you to comfortably see how an induction cooktop compares with an electric cooktop concerning energy efficiency.

What to look at when determining the efficiency of an induction cooktop

To determine the energy efficiency of the cooktop you want to purchase you have to attend to two main aspects.

  1. Firstly, you have to look at the induction cooktop as such and determine whether it works in an energy-efficient way. 
  2. Secondly, you have to compare the induction cooktop with electric cooktops and compare the levels of efficiency. This is needed to determine whether induction cooking is more energy-efficient than cooking on an electric cooktop.

Only after you’ve investigated both these aspects, you can really get an answer to your question about whether an induction cooktop is energy-efficient or not.

The first aspect: – Determine whether the induction cooktop works in an energy-efficient way

As not all of us are experts when it comes to electrical devices, we’ll explain the basics of how the induction cooktop works in layman’s terms. But relax, even if you don’t fully understand the system, don’t worry – all you have to remember is that induction cooktops generate heat in the cookware itself.

A brief explanation of how an induction cooktop works

Induction cooking involves electromagnetism

An induction cooktop uses the principle of electromagnetism. It uses electricity to generate a magnetic field. This magnetic field then induces a current inside the cookware used for cooking. So the electricity is not as in the case of an electric cooktop, used directly to cook food. With an induction cooktop, the cooking vessel itself is the source of heat to cook.

How does it actually work?

An induction cooktop has a copper coil beneath the cooktop’s surface and when an alternating current is passed to the copper coil it generates a magnetic field. This magnetic field then passes inside the ferromagnetic base of the cookware where it causes resistive currents.

These resistive currents are responsible for heating the cookware and cooking the food. The heat is not located in the copper coil or the cooktop’s surface, but in the cookware which then cooks the food.

What are the factors contributing to induction cooking’s energy efficiency?

There are many factors contributing to the high-efficiency level of an induction cooktop. We’ll first list some of the important factors to give you a “feeling” of what to expect energy-wise from induction cooking because to a certain extent it is a totally different way of preparing food than what you’re accustomed to.

  • You will be able to control the heat level and thus also the energy level and the power consumption precisely. This will make your food preparation very energy-efficient.
  • There will be no wastage of energy through heat loss as the cookware and the food will be the only elements being heated. The copper coil and cooktop’s surface will not be heated. You will always be working on a cool cooktop.
  • Only the content of the pot will heat. There will be no heat to pass into the surrounding air and therefore no energy will be wasted.
  • You’ll be able to control the temperature and power usage for different types of cooking you want to do, including simmering. This will prevent wastage of energy and will make your induction cooktop super energy efficient.

Let’s now look at some of these and other factors in more detail to find out why an induction cooktop is so energy efficient.

Contributing factor 1: Energy is not lost unnecessarily

Generally speaking, the less energy is “lost” on things not playing a direct role in the food preparation process, the more efficient is the cooktop.  With an induction cooktop, the heat is generated in the cookware itself without heating the copper coil or cooktop’s surface.

Thus, no energy is “wasted” to heat elements not directly in contact with the food. The cookware is the only element in direct contact with the food and the heated pot or pan immediately starts to heat the food.

Although some energy is still being used in the process, research results are showing us that around 90% of the heat created by induction reaches the food.

In other words, only 10% of the energy your induction cooktop uses is not directly used to cook your food. This little loss of energy makes induction cooking a very energy-efficient way of cooking.

Contributing factor 2: Induction cooking is fast

The longer it takes to prepare your food on a cooktop, the more energy is used. So, when you have a cooktop that is taking the shortest possible time to heat and prepare your food, you have the most energy-efficient way of cooking.

Induction cooking is fast and therefore offers you the possibility of preparing your food without using a lot of energy. Because the energy is directly transferred to the cooking vessel as discussed earlier in this article, the cookware is literally immediately heated, and the food also immediately starts to heat up. This is the main reason why the food cooks so fast. So, with an induction cooktop, you not only save food preparation time but also save energy. And ultimately you save money on your utility bill.

Contributing factor 3: No warming-up or “waiting-time” before the food starts to heat up

Traditionally, you have to put your cookware on a surface that you are heating in some way or other to enable the cookware and food to get warm. Generally, if you’re using electric appliances it takes a rather long period for the surface to get warm, and energy is being used the whole time.

With induction cooking, there is no waiting period for a cooktop surface to warm up. Thus, there is no energy-wasting period which means that no energy is needed before the food actually starts to be heated.

Contributing factor 4: Induction cooking offers precise temperature control

Induction cooking offers great temperature control. It allows you to cook your food at different speeds and you can also select a precise temperature for your food to simmer.  Because you can control the temperature so precisely you save energy.

The temperature response is also very good. When you turn off an induction cooktop, the pan or pot starts to cool immediately. And when you want to heat it again, just put the cooktop on and the pan or pot immediately starts to get warm. It doesn’t have to wait for a cooktop’s surface to heat up first. The energy/heat is transferred directly to the food.

The second aspect: How does an induction cooktop compare with electric cooktops regarding energy efficiency?

Part of the comparison has indirectly been mentioned when we’ve looked at why an induction cooktop is energy-efficient, but for your convenience, we’ve prepared a comparison table where you can easily compare an induction cooktop’s level of energy efficiency with that of an electric cooktop.

Research by the U.S. Department of Energy and other institutions has indicated that induction cooktops are more efficient than electric cooktops in all the categories they’ve tested. We’ve summarized the most important comparison results and the descriptions given by them.

Factors to compareInduction cooktopElectric cooktop
Test result 1: Percentage of energy transferred to the food84%74%
Test result  2: Percentage of power used for food preparation as such 90%55%
Test result 3: kW useUse 2.8 kW to deliver 2.52 kWUse 2.0 kW to deliver 1.1 kW
Description 1: Transferring heat to foodAn induction cooktop’s coils and surface don’t heat up and the energy is directly transferred to the cookware and food. As there is no “waiting time” before the heat reaches the food, energy is saved. Electric coils and hotplates transfer heat inefficiently and emit a lot of waste heat because they have to heat up before the heat is reaching the food. 
Description 2: Responding time when the temperature setting is changedInduction cooktops respond immediately to the temperature setting changes and the cookware heats up or cools down very quickly, saving energy.Electric coils are quite unresponsive. This means that energy is wasted as they heat up or cool down before or after cooking.
Description 3:  Energy used/saved if there is no cookware on the cooktop. An induction cooktop will only work if cookware with flat bottoms is placed on it. No energy is wasted if there is nothing on the cooktop to be heated – it simply doesn’t turn on.   An electric cooktop’s coils can accidentally be turned on or left on after cooking, wasting a lot of energy. 
Description 4: Energy saved/wasted when the cookware bottom is not flat.Induction cooking only works with flat-bottomed cookware and this guarantees even and efficient energy transfer. As you can use any cookware on an electric cooktop the bottoms of the cookware are not always flat. This can cause a significant energy loss as only a section of the bottom of the pot is in contact with the heat source.

Conclusion

We hope that you’re now convinced that, based on energy efficiency, an induction cooktop is a good choice if you have to purchase a new cooktop. An induction energy-efficient cooktop can save you money from day one.