The Cost of an Electric Kettle vs. Boiling on a Gas Stove

by Katy on January 2, 2023 · 54 comments

I spent time at my father’s house and mountain cabin this weekend, both of which have plug-in electric kettles. I enjoyed how quickly they boiled water, plus it’s kind of nice to not have to run across the house to stop the brain stabbing scream of the whistle. My step mother was shocked that I didn’t own one, but I explained that I value the classic design of my thrifted Revere Ware kettle and I enjoy the ritual of boiling water on the stove for my tea.

However, I’m nothing if not practical. I have a gas stove and the price of natural gas has been creeping up, which isn’t ending any time soon. We’re not as bad as Europe, where people are ripping out their beloved AGA stoves due to skyrocketing gas prices, but it’s certainly worth considering the cost of gas vs. electric. My gas company is rolling out a 25% rate increase, (14% now, upping to 25% in March after the end of supposed winter heating season) which prompted me to dive down this rabbit hole.

It’s not easy to compare gas to electric costs, as an electric kettle uses 1.5 kilowatts to boil water and it takes 6428 British therm units (BTUs) to boil water using a standard gas stove. Of course, my gas company uses “therms,” there are 1.00024e-5 therms in one BTU. 1 kWh = 0.0341296 therms and I pay 14.47¢/kWh for electricity and 61.458¢/therm for gas. So you can see why you almost need an advanced mathematics degree to puzzle out the cost of heating a kettle on the gas stove vs. a plug-in electric. Of course you also have to consider that you’re not actually boiling water for a full hour.

I never got even close to a point where I could do the math, but I did come to the conclusion that I could stop mindlessly filling the entire kettle when I’m having just a single cup of tea. Plus my low-tech kettle was manufactured without planned obsolescence and should last for a very long time. No additional purchases necessary.

And the cost of avoiding complicated math? Priceless.

P.S. If any of you mathy types wants to take a stab at this equation, please feel free!

 Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy January 2, 2023 at 11:47 am

I have been low-key mulling this over for about 2 months. We use both gas stovetop kettle and plug-in kettles (plus microwave-boiling a single mug from time to time) Can’t wait to hear the answers!

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BettafrmdaVille January 2, 2023 at 11:48 am

I’d also like to know the cost of heating a cup of water in a microwave. Of course, I’m a rustic who just makes a cup rather than a pot!

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Katy January 2, 2023 at 12:15 pm

I suppose that would depend on how many watts your microwave is.

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Anne January 2, 2023 at 2:23 pm

I was wondering the same thing. I love the romance of making an entire pot of tea, but can’t be bothered. I make it a cup at a time in the microwave, but I do use the bag twice.

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Rose January 2, 2023 at 4:37 pm

Guys, this is easy. It’s 39¢ to boil a kettle on the stove using gas, and 21¢ to boil an eletric kettle.

That said, Katy’s electric is quite cheap and prices may be more in your area.

And microwave tea is awful.

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Anne January 2, 2023 at 8:36 pm

Okay, Rose, you put the rest of us to shame. 😀

But since I use tea bags, and not loose tea, I can’t tell the difference in a pot of my tea or a microwave mug full.

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Katy January 3, 2023 at 11:39 am

All bow down to Rose!

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Selena January 3, 2023 at 3:33 pm

In my area it is the opposite. Electric is far more expensive than natural gas – even at natural gas current high rate.

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Jan January 4, 2023 at 5:57 am

In our area too! Our electric bills have tripled from last year. Makes me wonder if buying an electric car would ever do me any good!

Francine January 4, 2023 at 3:01 pm

Your math would be correct – if the electric kettle was running for an hour to bring the water to the boil. But it only will be using the 1.5 kW for roughly 3 min, so a 20th of an hour. Electricity cost for heating one kettle filling works out at about 1 cent that way.

Unfortunately, I do not know whether the British term value is what a gas burner uses in an hour, or whether it is what is needed to bring X amount of water to the boil or something else entirely, so I cannot do the comparison.

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Hilde Simon January 2, 2023 at 12:10 pm

I’m following with interest!
We saw the electric kettles in NZ and Australia and I was impressed with how quickly they got the water to boil. If I didn’t already have a terrific kettle with good looks, I would consider switching. Or I should say, if the gas bill comes in sky high, I would consider switching. Rates are rising…I should know by Springtime.

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Karen January 2, 2023 at 12:39 pm

I use an electric kettle (am in the US) and have done ever since I let a kettle boil dry on a smooth-top electric stove. i put on the kettle and then went downstairs for something and forgot about the kettle upstairs, so I didn’t hear the whistle! Once I learned electric kettles automatically shut off, I switched. They are perfect for absent-minded people like me.

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Ruby January 2, 2023 at 12:43 pm

I switched from a kettle on the gas stove to an electric kettle for making pots of tea for iced tea. The electric kettle heats up far faster and shuts itself off after a short interval. The electric kettle was free: rescued from an abandoned suite of rooms at work, where it would have gone in the trash.

For a single cup of water, I use the microwave, but may fill a thermos with boiling water from the electric kettle in the morning and refill from that for hot drinks, as the thrifty British do.

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Katy January 2, 2023 at 2:00 pm

Getting an electric kettle for free is the outlier that I didn’t anticipate.

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MW January 3, 2023 at 6:02 am

Hard to believe that! Free pile for the win!

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Ruby January 3, 2023 at 9:20 am

I had fully expected it to not work because why would it be left behind if it did? But all it needed was a good cleaning.

Katy might be able to request one from her Buy Nothing group, if she chooses to go that route.

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BettafrmdaVille January 2, 2023 at 5:55 pm

We just add cold water to the tea bags for iced tea. Throw it all in the fridge for a few hours and you have it done! And, no bitterness.

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Ruby January 3, 2023 at 9:14 am

I’ve tried that but did not like the tea as much. I kind of like the very faint bitterness of brewed tea.

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Chrystal January 2, 2023 at 2:11 pm

I boil a kettle of water using the electric pot then pour into the pan on the gas stove to cook pasta. I do the same for soup. Heat water with electric, cook with gas. As a very absent minded multi tasker our electric kettle is also for our home safety

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Frau Rosen January 2, 2023 at 5:39 pm

I also boil all my water in the electric kettle and then transfer it to the gas stove for whatever needs to be cooked there. That was a thing I first saw British chef Jamie Oliver do on TV many years ago. We have a 6 or 7 year old electric kettle (bought new at the Evil Online Empire based here in Seattle, sorry!) that gets used about 10 times a day and I absolutely adore it.

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Jennifer January 2, 2023 at 2:22 pm

My dh and dd use an electric kettle – Dh at work to make coffee in a french pour over pot and my dd at college in her dorm. They both loved them and it worked for their space. For me I think it would just be 1 more thing on my counter. our stove is electric so I imagine it is the same usage, but maybe the electric one is faster by a bit.

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Cynthia January 2, 2023 at 2:31 pm

I resisted for a long time but when I got a solar tracker I started moving everything I could from oil and gas over to my now “free*” electric. Cooking in toaster oven when possible, and using–gasp!–space heaters rather than turn up the furnace. Electric kettle yes. Still thinking about an InstaPot.

(Of course it isn’t free, the tracker cost a LOT, but it’s here and I’m committed to using as much as I generate.)

However, I was so habituated to filling a kettle and putting it on the stove that I ruined my first electric kettle by putting the pot right over the flame. It took some time to clean the melted plastic off the stove top as well as get the smell out of the kitchen. Second time I made sure to buy a kettle that looks nothing like my old tea kettles and so far I have not had a major fire.

Don’t do what I did.

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Ecoteri January 3, 2023 at 5:20 am

Oh @Cynthia, I had an Ex who was more than absent minded, he indulged in substances… we had a power outage one day when he was trying to boil the electric kettle. He thought of using the outdoor barbecue which had a side burner, which was clever. what wasn’t clever was just taking the half-boiled electric kettle (that lifted off it’s stand) and putting that on the burner. NEEDLESS to say, the kettle needed to be replaced. I think it was the beginning of the end of our relationship, actually….GAH

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Katy January 3, 2023 at 11:36 am

Yeah . . . no.

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Heidi Louise January 2, 2023 at 2:31 pm

I came back to my residence hall room once, many many years ago when an electric kettle was a big present for high school graduates to take to college. My roommate was using my harvest gold model and standing by the boiling water, waving and saying, “Thank you! Thank you very much!”
I suppose the rush of water does sound a bit like applause.
She used it at a later time to make canned corn for some kind of progressive dinner event and the inside was never quite the same.

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Amy January 3, 2023 at 12:45 pm

For me it was mac and cheese. Uck.

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Jon Howard January 2, 2023 at 2:46 pm

My father-in-law has a PhD in maths, and is very energy conscious. He has ‘run the numbers’ and says it is still cheaper to use gas to boil water. This is in the UK in Jan 2023, after significant increases in gas and electricity prices.

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Katy January 3, 2023 at 11:41 am

Please thank your father in law for me!

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Ranee January 2, 2023 at 2:52 pm

I recently purchased a tea kettle for the stove top. Honestly, more to add some color to the kitchen and also for added moisture during the winter, after using. (just sitting it back on the burner, with it off, but still spewing some steam – electric stove) However, I also had an electric tea kettle, which, after less than a years use, the switch no longer worked. I was very glad that I had the stove top tea kettle, when I discovered that. Husband checked to see if he could repair, but wasn’t an option. Now, I hesitate to consider purchasing another electric kettle.

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Elizabeth Turner January 2, 2023 at 3:03 pm

I’m in England & we have smart meters. It’s costs 3p (about 2cents) to boil an electric kettle full of water. Costs about 9p to boil a full kettle on the stove using gas and takes 4 times as long.

A slice of toast is one penny in an electric toaster. A large pan of salted water for pasta is 13p on an induction stove.

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Lt. January 3, 2023 at 5:03 pm

Here’s the answer right here ^
Thank you, Elizabeth.

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Christine January 2, 2023 at 3:47 pm

I’m in the camp of those attached to their stove top tea kettle. But like Katy, I figured out to boil only enough water to make one cup of tea (or two if DH is having one).

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Kristine Smith January 2, 2023 at 3:54 pm

Well, now you’ve got me planning to test this. I have a Kil-O-Watt meter that will tell me just how much it takes to run my electric kettle and I already did the crazy math so that I know how much it costs to run each burner on my stove per minute. Yup. I get into that kind of detail, lol. I’ll report back with my results.

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Katy January 3, 2023 at 11:40 am

Yes, please do!

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Cindi January 2, 2023 at 4:35 pm

Ugh….I’m one of those people ripping out their beloved Aga stoves… and I don’t live in Europe but the cost of propane added to the fact that I don’t cook like I used to, kids are gone and I’m divorced means it moved to upstate New York. Damn, I loved that stove but needs must…
Be well and watch that bottom line!!

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Jen January 2, 2023 at 5:34 pm

I can always depend on a NCA post and comments to get me out of a funk (DD headed back to her college town today—it never gets easier). I am a stovetop water boiling girl, mainly because I don’t like having things out in the counter. But I will wait impatiently for Katy’s post telling us she found a free plug-in in a Free Box. And hopefully it won’t smell like creamed corn. 😉

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Katy January 3, 2023 at 11:39 am

I actually did pull a free plug-in kettle from a dumpster last year. (A legal office had closed and the dumpster was filled with office supplies.) I gave it away on through my buy nothing group.

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Susan January 2, 2023 at 6:21 pm

I actually measure out 16 oz of water to put in my stove top kettle… I’ve done this for years as I’m totally impatient when waiting for water to boil

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Jan January 3, 2023 at 5:36 am

We have a teakettle that lost its whistle. My wife wants to replace it because she forgets that it’s on, but I don’t mind checking to see if the water’s boiling. I figure it still works, right?

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Katy January 3, 2023 at 11:35 am

I’m a pretty focused person, but even I would worry about having a whistle-less tea kettle.

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Jan January 4, 2023 at 5:59 am

Hmm. I guess if it’s a fire hazard, it’s not frugal to keep it!

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Ecoteri January 3, 2023 at 5:14 am

Loved your math problem. I am currently upgrading my math remembering using an online program called Brilliant. Brilliant I am not yet…. so I can’t do your math without a lot of head scratching.
I can, however, report that my new Induction stove boils the lovely blue enamel kettle my daughter gifted me in under two minutes. And I fill it for a count of 8 which gets me just the right amount of water for my 16 ounce coffee cup (drip filter). The Induction stove is at least 3 times faster than my electric kettle was – although the automatic shutoff on the electric rates higher than the whistle, I am going for speed, baby!

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Rose January 3, 2023 at 9:36 am

I used my friend’s induction cooktop over Thanksgiving. WOW. The simmer really simmers well, the fast boil is unreal–I am going to recommend them to everyone. It was almost enough to get me to part with my beloved 1950s stove. (Where simmering usually means “the gas went out.” sigh.)

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Ecoteri January 5, 2023 at 4:22 am

@Rose – right? My son got one with his new home, and after seeing it and comparing to my sad 60’s era coil burners (I replaced one with a new-to-me second one and it was such a disappointment…..) I bit the bullet and got the cheap induction that my son had chosen. no regrets. well, it doesn’t have that extra outlet on the top of the stove for me to plug in my rice cooker, but other than that. the speed that it boils things is astounding. and I did have to spring for a new Presto pressure canner, however my old one has done yeoman’s duty for 3 decades so it didn’t owe me anything, and it can be passed on to someone who isn’t lucky enough to have induction. 3/4 of my pots worked, the remainder had copper bottoms so were sent on to one or another of the two kids still on regular ovens. Induction is glorious!

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Lesley Parent January 3, 2023 at 8:37 am

Katy, this made me think immediately of Mavis (onehundreddollarsamonth) and her new AGA stove that’s arriving this spring in Maine!

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Katy January 3, 2023 at 11:34 am

Wow, people are paying people to remove those in England right now. However, AGAs run constantly, so they also function to heat a house which is more of an issue in Maine than England.

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mairsydoats January 3, 2023 at 9:21 am

This is what I was going to say. Even though the electric kettles do crap out after a few years, the peace of mind for not forgetting something on the stovetop is priceless. YMMV, of course.

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mairsydoats January 3, 2023 at 9:23 am

Was trying to reply to Karen’s post. Sigh, technology.

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Mati January 3, 2023 at 10:22 am

My parents did the math, and even with the cost of the electric kettle it makes sense, so I’ve had one for about ten years and use it 3-4x a day for beverages and preheating cooking/cleaning water. Where it really shines is in not burning the house down when I forget.

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Helene Steese Rippey January 3, 2023 at 1:34 pm
Sandra L Romano January 3, 2023 at 5:54 pm

Down the rabbit hole I go…..this is something I scratch my head about all of the time…. to me there is something satisfying about boiling water on the stove- gas or electric!- but would it be more economical/environmentally responsible to use an electric kettle? The kettle would take up more counter space which I don’t like… but environmentally electric is better than gas… unless you already have the gas system? Would it be better to keep using the system that exists- that won’t need replacing in the near future- or buy a new more economical system? There’s a lot of variables here to consider….

But mathematically using the costs provided in the article? The math isn’t too complicated once you decide on how much time it takes to boil water on a gas stove vs using an electric kettle…. I haven’t used an electric kettle in a while but it seems to me they’re quicker than boiling water on a gas stove (although you need to take into consideration how much water is involved, especially for those of us who take satisfaction in filling the teapot regardless of how much water we actually need? So for argument’s sake I’m going to assume that it takes 5 min to boil water in an electric kettle and 10 min to boil water on a gas stove….

It’s too much effort to write all the calculations out- but they’re really simple conversions- multiplying terms making sure units cancel out- and I get that it would cost 1.8c to use the electric kettle and 3.95c to use the gas stove….

So maybe if you use the right amount of water for both, but especially the gas stove, it would take the same amount of time to boil the water and then the cost would be the same!!!

Although that would vary depending on the cost of gas and electricity where you are…. I know the cost of my electricity is extremely high but I don’t have the energy right now to look-nor to figure out the cost of the gas I buy in a tank….

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Katy January 4, 2023 at 10:15 am

Yes, I try not to accumulate too many things that stay on the counter.

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Kristine Smith January 6, 2023 at 7:53 am

So I have conducted my experiment of ELECTRIC VS. STOVE TOP KETTLE, such as it is.

PROCESS AND RESULTS:
1. I prepared my stainless stovetop kettle and my ceramic electric kettle each with 1 quart of cold water drawn from the same faucet at the same time.
2. I started a stopwatch when I turned on/ignited them.
3. The electric kettle reached boiling and auto shutoff at 5 min 27 seconds.
4. The stovetop kettle reached whistle at 9 min 44 seconds.
5. At $1.05 US per kilowatt hour, it cost me .01 (or 1 cent) to heat the quart of water to boiling with the electric kettle.
6. At $2.45 per gallon of propane, my 14,200 BTU burner (the most efficiently appropriate size for the tea kettle) cost .058 (or almost 6 cents) to heat the quart of water to boiling on the stove top.

CONCLUSION: For my appliances and utilities, the electric tea kettle is almost twice as fast at 1/6 the cost.

FINAL NOTE: The stovetop tea kettle was a prize I won at my quilting guild and the electric tea kettle was a gift from my daughter, so I didn’t calculate any cost for purchasing them, lol.

AND of course I didn’t waste any of that hot water… I made myself a strong cuppa and hubby a pitcher of iced tea.

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Katy January 6, 2023 at 10:23 am

Wow, that is a significant difference. Thank you for conducting this experiment!

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