Electric pressure cookers offer better option in kitchen

Electric pressure cooker. [iStockphoto]

Many of us have been encouraged to cook with anything but electricity at home. The fear of tokens disappearing or incurring huge bills is not entirely unfounded.

Older electric cooking devices like the familiar hotplate were highly inefficient and consumed excessive amounts of power.

Back then, it was almost laughable to imagine a world in which cooking a meal with electricity from start to finish could cost less than popular cooking fuels like charcoal or kerosene.

 In fact, for those of us with mixed fuel stoves, we would sooner pause cooking activities to refill the gas cylinder than switch to using the hotplate portion of the cooker.

It is true that cooking with inefficient electrical appliances can add to the cost of living. However, modern energy-efficient appliances can make cooking with electricity an attractive option for those who looking to cut costs in the kitchen.

The recently released Kenya Renewable Energy Association Energy Price Index found that it is cheaper to cook using electricity than Liquefied Petroleum Gas.

KEREA’s findings build upon other research, such as the World Bank’s ‘Cooking with Electricity: A Cost Perspective’ report, which compared the costs of cooking with electricity with other popular fuels in four countries, including Kenya.

It concluded that many households could save money by adopting energy-efficient electric cooking appliances and that in Nairobi, cooking all your food with electricity is already much cheaper than charcoal.

The Kenya eCookbook shows how the electric pressure cooker (EPC) is seven times cheaper than charcoal. An electric hotplate has a similar cost to charcoal, but the EPC uses seven times less electricity. Since the publication of the eCookBook, the logging ban pushed charcoal prices even higher, and the prices of kerosene and LPG have also increased. Meanwhile, the cost of power is still roughly the same at around Sh17 per unit for lifeline customers and Sh22 for regular households.

Meanwhile, an impact assessment from a programme that supported the sale of 5,000 EPCs in the Kenyan market found that 35 per cent of customers reported a notable decrease in overall household expenses and improved savings after acquiring the EPC: However, one may raise concerns about the upfront cost, especially for the modern energy-efficient appliances that can enable you to make big savings in the long run.

After all, a typical ceramic charcoal stove may sell for Sh500, whilst an EPC costs at least Sh5,000.  Fortunately, there are an increasing number of options that are now available to consumers to break this down into monthly affordable repayments.

-The writers work for the Modern Energy Cooking Service Programme, which is funded through the UKAid.