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The one kitchen switch that will save you time and money

Game Changers: Induction hobs are more efficient, cleaner and faster than cooking with gas

It’s the money shot in a TV cookery show: cue dramatic music, chef white-faced with anxiety. Then come shooting flames flaring from a gas hob as hot oil catches. Flame is macho, sexy and oh so televisual. But gas hobs are a problem on many fronts. Forget the flame-throwers. Their day is done.

Gas hobs are inefficient. The blue flames don’t just heat the frying pans, they also heat the room. Several studies have also found that they pollute our homes with nitrogen dioxide which can exacerbate asthma and cause the most harm to the younger lungs in the household.

Gas is the fossil fuel we urgently need to wean ourselves off. “Natural” gas was so called because it could be burned in its natural state. But gas suppliers process it, removing the water and other compounds and add a chemical to give it a smell because natural gas is odourless. I have a deep-seated loathing of gas. As a student I came back to a shared house after holidays. The meter had run out and the oven had been left on. When I slotted in a new 50 pence piece into the meter the oven filled slowly with gas. This ignited with an unforgettable whomping sound when I went to light it. I was lucky to get away with a burnt hand and arm. I have relived the moment with every gas oven I ever lit again. Electric ovens have been our choice for years.

And now we are swapping out our gas hob for an induction one. It’s not cheap or simple. We need a gas fitter to remove the old hob and someone to cut a larger hole in the worktop for the new one. Induction hobs are energy efficient because they create a magnetic loop of energy with the pan. So cast iron is good. Copper is bad. You need flat-bottomed woks rather than roundy ones. Anyone who remembers the distinctive smell of burnt milk on an old electric hob needn’t worry. Inductions can make heat flare and disappear just like a flame but without all the bad stuff.


Almost all our pots have passed the fridge magnet test. If the magnet sticks to the base they will work on an induction hob. The good news is the casserole pot in which a good 70 per cent of our dinners bubble has passed, and will hopefully live to cook dinners for decades to come. Electricity rather than combustion is where our cooking, transport and home heating systems are headed. Over its lifetime, the induction hob will be more efficient, cleaner and faster, like the energy solutions coming down the track to hopefully change our lives for the better.

Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a founder of Pocket Forests