I am getting a new stove. Any suggestions for a healthy, efficient, inexpensive replacement?


I am getting a new stove. Any suggestions for a healthy, efficient, inexpensive replacement?

Asked by Carol Lucas

Home built in 1945, not well. No insulation, foundation is bad, but eventually I will rebuild and use what materials/appliances I have upgraded. It has a propane stove, electric lights and a diesel fueled heat furnace. (Yikes!!) I would like options for the stove, but electric is fine. Maybe dual source, but I know that those options are expensive, and cash is short.

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Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS's picture

Dear Carol,

From my perspective, your question fits into the realm of design more than sustainablematerials or design principals. That being said, I will attempt to answer your question from bothperspectives.

You need a new stove and you thoughtfully want to purchase one that will stand the testof time and be suitable for your pending remodel. Herein lies the fundamental problem ofselecting/purchasing materials before one has developed a master plan for their remodel - youcan purchase one now and then find that you effectively "sub-optimize" your remodel becauseyou feel the need to shoe horn your stove into your future remodeled kitchen.

So here are afew things to consider.

Buy used with the possibility of selling or donating

Purchase a dented, scratched, discontinued or refurbished stove from a reputableappliance retailer that is within your current means. This will give you an opportunityto "try out" certain features such as dual fuel at a discounted price.

If by chance the unitdoes not meet your needs you have the option of selling it or donating it to a charity buthave had the use of it up until the time of your remodel.

Buy new with the intention of keeping it as long as it operates

Purchase a new stove with the intention of holding on to it through the end of itsuseful life.

The features to consider for this more permanent option are:

  1. Fuel source- propane prices are very volatile while electric rates in your area of the country arevery affordable plus you have the option when you remodel to incorporate alternativeenergy generation into your home. Further, propane requires higher CFM ventilation(think bigger, more expensive exhaust fan) for maintaining good indoor air quality; adiscussion of EMFs is beyond the scope of this post;
  2. Consider a slide in model ratherthan a free standing model - slide-ins have easier to read controls and are safer dueto the fact that you are not reaching over potentially hot elements (note that mostdual fuel pro-models are free standing and come with a hefty price tag, however, thereare some dual fuel models that are built as slide-ins);
  3. Concealed oven elements andconvection fans are features that are definitely worth splurging on as they will makecleaning, maintaining and operating your stove more efficient;
  4. Size - what do youneed with respect to size of the stove and what size will your kitchen accommodate?Four elements or five and how they are configured will depend on how much you liketo cook and what type of cooking you do (soups and stews vs. stir fry). One oven ortwo? Do you want a storage draw below the oven or would you benefit from having awarming drawer below?; and
  5. When selecting any appliance, truly kick the tires. Openand close the oven door several times to make sure the handle fits well in your handand that the door hinge works well with you arm strength, turn the knobs and makesure they fit your hands and are easy to manipulate, read the control panel carefullyto ensure that it is easy to read for you (control panels on black stoves are sometimesmore difficult to read than stoves with other finishes) and look at the oven lights anddetermine if the light level is right for you.

Evaluating the manufacturer's sustainability policies

Sustainability is a many faceted thing. At this time the US EPA Energy Star program doesnot rate kitchen ranges, ovens or cooktops so without energy efficiency as a benchmarkfor decision making, what is a consumer to do?

Consider factoring in sustainabilityin your purchase options by looking to the appliance manufacturers' operations andcorporate philosophy -

  • Do they produce their products domestically (don't assume thatif the company is foreign based that they do not manufacture domestically) or abroad?
  • Are their corporate policies with respect to manufacturing, packaging, distributionetc. pro-environment, neutral or anti-environment?

Here in the United States we areblessed with a wide variety of innovative appliance manufacturers, many of whom arereally trying to do the right thing (environmentally), so I am confident that without toomuch difficulty you can find a manufacturer that is right for you.

As you are considering a future remodel, I would highly recommend that you considerpurchasing the latest edition of Green Spec registered (published by BuildingGreen) which is acomprehensive guide to sourcing sustainable building products/materials. You might alsoconsider purchasing a copy of the Northwest Green Home Primer by Kathleen Smith andKathleen O'Brien.

Wishing you much success with your remodel project!