Unlike for refrigerators and other large kitchen appliances, there are no Energy Star® certifications for oven ranges and stovetops in the U.S., at least not for residential appliances. This is, in part, because other major household appliances (refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.) use far more energy than stoves and ovens. The other reason is that there is huge variability in the energy consumption of cooking appliances depending on how you use them, the type of cookware you use, and even the food you cook. (Energy Star ratings do apply to commercial ovens.)
In contrast, Europe applies a variety of certifications to ovens and stovetops. So, when looking for a new kitchen appliance, it can help to check out the eco-credentials of a product in Europe and then see if the same model is available in the States.
Certifications to look for when buying a new oven
A few of the labels to look out for if you’re buying a new stove or oven include:
- The European Energy Label
- European Eco Label
- Energy Saving Trust Recommended
The European Energy label
The European Energy Label will be familiar to many people as European law requires manufacturers to display this beside products at the point of sale.
The label rates products from A to G, based on energy efficiency and covers a variety of household appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators, televisions, light bulbs, and electric ovens.
Appliances are awarded the EU Energy Label based on energy consumption in kilowatts per hour (kWh). More efficient appliances use fewer kWh.
European Eco Label (logo) (voluntary)
The European Eco Label is a voluntary but official and independent certification used across Europe. It applies to non-food products with minimal environmental impact.
This certification factors in more than just energy consumption. It also assesses the impact of a product over its lifecycle, including production, transportation, usage and disposal.
Energy Saving Trust Recommended (voluntary)
The Energy Saving Trust Recommended certification mark is a UK-based program that certifies the most energy efficient products. Manufacturers apply and pay to get their products certified under this program.
The Energy Saving Trust is a non-profit organization established specifically to help reduce carbon emissions. It is funded by the UK government and the private sector. Criteria for the certification are set by an independent panel with annual reviews.
Energy Star (voluntary)
The Energy Star program certifies that an appliance’s energy consumption is below an agreed level while in stand-by mode. As such, the Energy Star is often applied to office equipment such as computers, fax machines and printers. This is a government-led program developed in the U.S..
The European Energy Star is a voluntary certification managed through a partnership between the European Community (EC) and the U.S.
Other certifications and labels to note
California Prop 65
In 1986, California voters approved Proposition 65, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Prop 65 requires the State to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. This list, which must be updated at least once a year, has grown to include approximately 800 chemicals since it was first published in 1987.
Products that meet Prop 65 standards are those that are free from the 800 or so problematic chemicals (whether synthetic or naturally occurring) on the list. These chemicals are known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. In relation to stoves, ovens, and ranges, potential problems include the chemicals used as solvents, resins, and coatings, as well as formaldehyde and other chemicals used in manufacturing and construction, and those that are the byproducts of chemical processes.
The penalties for not complying with Proposition 65 are high, which means that most companies label their products with a Prop 65 Warning. This doesn’t actually mean that the product is problematic, though, as companies err on the side of caution to avoid fines.
Very few ovens, stoves, or cooktops are Prop 65 certified. This is because many interior components of these appliances include mercury, lead, and even PTFE. Unless the product malfunctions, though, it’s unlikely that end users will be exposed to these chemicals.
UNI EN ISO 14001
This standard outlines the requirements for the adoption of an environmental management system and provides guidelines for companies to follow when drafting corporate policy on eco-sustainability and pollution. The certification focuses on optimizing the use of energy and natural resources, and quality systems for waste disposal.
EU directive RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances)
The RoHS directive places stringent restrictions on the use of hazardous materials and substances such as lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium VI, polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).
EU directive REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemical Substances)
The REACH regulation concerns the handling of chemical substances and aims to ensure that human health and the environment are protected to the fullest extent.
Can an oven be kosher?
This might sound like a strange question to some, but it’s a necessary one to ask for many folks. Why? Because many Jewish people who strictly observe Shabbat (the Sabbath) don’t use any electrical devices. Indeed, many strict observers will turn off ovens to ensure no chimes, lights, clocks and so forth violate the Sabbath.
There is one key exception, however. If you set your device to Sabbath mode in advance, you can then passively use it during the Sabbath itself.
Understanding these concerns, some manufacturers have designed ovens and stovetops with a Sabbath mode. This mode allows users to operate burners, but chimes, timers, and displays may be disabled. This mode might also disable energy saving modes and cooktop lockout features. It’s important to know exactly how Sabbath mode will affect your stove or oven performance, given that it may alter some safety settings and other operations.
Sabbath mode isn’t available from all brands or in all models, so if this is important to you, look for the Star-K certification to be sure.
Star-K is a Kosher Certification. It is also known as the Vaad Hakashrut of Baltimore and is awarded under the guidance of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, with the involvement of many other rabbis. Star-K is one of the largest Jewish dietary certification agencies in North America.
In regard to ovens, stovetops, and ranges, the Star-K certifies that an oven is OK for use by those who observe the Sabbath.
Where to buy an eco-friendly stove or oven
The more information a manufacturer offers about an appliance, and the longer the warranty, the more likely it is to be a higher quality product. Beware ranges, stovetops, and ovens with no warranty and no clear product details.