Energy Efficient convection ovens face pricing challenges

As trends for energy efficiency continue to grow, consumers must look at where they use energy – their appliances – for additional savings.

The average American will keep a stove/oven combination for an average of 20 years. Like all appliances, it has two costs – the purchase price and the operating price, or the price a consumer pays in utility bills over the course of those 20 years.

Two trends are impacting oven purchases in the United States. According to the California Energy Commission, 58 percent of ovens in the country are electric, but the purchase of gas appliances is increasing.

Another growing trend, with direct energy savings implications, is electric convection ovens. These operate by using fans to circulation the heated air inside the oven, creating more even cooking. This reduces cooking times and required cooking temperatures.

These ovens are being touted as energy efficient, and there is an argument to be made for that.

The Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings revealed the times and required temperature settings to cook a casserole. Electric ovens and gas ovens each required 176 degrees Celsius for one hour. By contrast, electric convection ovens cooked the same casserole in 45 minutes on 162 degrees. The study estimates a savings on utility bills of five cents (U.S.) for this one casserole when compared to a traditional electric oven. When calculated over the 20-year lifespan of an oven, the savings become significant.

The traditional electric oven used 2.0 kWh to cook the casserole while the convection oven only used 1.39 kWh to cook the same item.

However, the electric convection oven did not outperform gas ovens in savings. The cost of cooking the casserole was seven cents, four cents less expensive than a convection oven, and nine cents less expensive than a traditional electric oven. The gas oven expended .112 therm to cook the casserole, according to the Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings.

Initial purchase price remains a challenge, as well. A review of ovens available at Best Buy, a national retailer of appliances in the United States, the lowest price convection oven available was $1,189.99 (U.S). By contrast, electric ovens and gas ovens were available for as little as $699.99. A review of pricing at Sears revealed comparable costs.

While the convection oven may rightfully claim more energy efficiency when compared to an electric oven, the initial purchase price offsets the savings on utility bills, and may lead some consumers to seek other alternatives, such as traditional electric or the less expensive gas oven. It is a demonstration of energy efficiency not equating to price efficiency.

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