Is the federal government working to ban gas stoves? Is President Biden trying to remove gas stoves from every American home as part of his clean energy agenda? Would 96% of gas stoves currently available on the market essentially be outlawed?
In recent months, claims like these have been made, refuted, reinforced, debunked, un-debunked, re-debunked and so on. Politicians, fact-checkers, and media outlets across the spectrum are all guilty of misleading on the issue.
When claims are treated as facts and proposals treated as actions, misinformation can easily spread from both media and politicians as politically-motivated actors seek to energize their base through fear.
As debates continue, here’s what we know about federal actions and statements regarding gas stoves.
Key Takeaway: There is no evidence that the Biden administration is considering a move to remove Americans’ gas stove tops that they currently own. But the Energy Department has proposed rules for consideration that would limit the future sale of many stoves currently in use or on the market.
Gas Stove Ban is “On The Table,” Said Consumer Safety Commissioner in January
In January, an agency commissioner at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission told Bloomberg (Lean Left Bias) that a ban on gas stoves was “on the table.” The commissioner called gas stoves a “hidden hazard” and said that “products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”
This sparked backlash and led White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to address the issue on January 11. Jean-Pierre emphasized that the Consumer Product Safety Commission was an independent agency and that “the President does not support banning gas stoves.”
USA Today Fact Check cited an Instagram post from Fox News (Right bias) host Steve Hilton that was captioned: “The Biden administration wants to ban your gas stoves and then gaslight you into thinking it’s normal.” USA Today labeled the claim “False,” citing the statement from Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
Additionally, Instagram flagged the post as “False Information.”
Similarly, FactCheck.org published an article on January 13 stating that “The Biden administration is not planning to ban gas stoves,” determining that the statements from the agency commissioner “provided just enough fuel for some politicians to stoke fear and outrage.”
DOE Proposes Rule Change on New Stoves in February. Will That Lead to a Ban on 96% of Stoves?
The debate reignited a month later when the Department of Energy proposed rule changes that would alter efficiency requirements for consumer cooking appliances.
“Every major manufacturer has products that meet or exceed the requirements proposed today—including nearly 50% of the current gas cooktop market that will not be impacted by this proposal,” the department said at the time, according to the Wall Street Journal (Center bias).
So, what about the other roughly 50%?
The Energy Department proposal led Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) to write an op-ed published in the Washington Examiner (Lean Right Bias) that began by stating, “the Biden administration is coming for your gas stove.”
Lesko called the proposed rule change “extreme energy performance standards” that would result in “essentially an outright ban on gas stoves,” under which “96% of existing gas cooking tops would be banned from future manufacturing and sales.”
“Based on the Department of Energy's own analysis,” Lesko writes, “gas cooktops at the max-tech level represent just 4% of current market share and exclude all conventional free-stand ranges.”
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), “the compliance date for newly sold products would be three years after publication of a final rule.”
The new development led some to criticize fact-checkers like FactCheck.org and USA TODAY, who deemed a ban on gas stoves to be misinformation back in January.
In late March, the House of Representatives voted 251 to 181 in favor of adding an amendment to an energy bill that would block the Department of Energy from implementing new regulations on gas stoves. Twenty-nine Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the amendment.
Would the Proposal Really Limit Sales of Gas Stoves? A Look at the Math
If the BTU limits are set very high, the impact might be small. If set low and strictly, they could have a dramatic impact.
Specifically, the proposal as written would “require manufacturers to certify their gas cooking tops do not consume greater than 1,204 kBtu (kilo-British Thermal Units) per year,” according to CRS.
For reference, one kBTU is equal to 1,000 BTUs. So 1,204 kBTU equals 1,204,000 BTUs. From this point on, we’ll focus on BTUs.
BTUs are the common metric used to measure energy output for things like gas stoves and air conditioners. The unit is always considered in hours.
Say your gas cooktop at home has a 1,000 BTU burner. That means the burner consumes around 1,000 BTUs of heat per hour when in use. If you use it for 30 minutes, it’ll consume around 500 BTUs, and so on.
According to appliance company Maytag, average “burners on a residential gas range or cooktop will have somewhere from 500 BTUs all the way up to 18,000 BTUs.” Others specify that many gas stoves have at least one high heat burner “that generates 12,000-18,000 BTUs.”
If an 18,000 BTU burner was on high for an hour, it’d consume roughly 18,000 BTUs. If used on high for 15 minutes, it’d consume roughly 4,500 BTUs (18,000 / 15).
Reminder: the DOE proposed a consumption threshold of 1,204,000 BTUs per year for gas cooktops. It based that number on an assumed total of “418 cooking top cycles per year.”
Therefore, the Energy Department seems to have proposed a ban on any gas cooktop that consumes more than 2,800 BTUs per average cooking top cycle (1,204,000 BTUs per year / 418 cooking cycles).
Importantly, the DOE doesn’t specify how it decided on 418 as the average number of uses per year, or how long the average “cooking top cycle” lasts. Is it 30 minutes? An hour? 10 minutes?
In reality, cooking cycle duration would likely vary greatly from day to day, and from home to home. But without an idea of the average, it’s hard to judge what a reasonable threshold would be.
The DOE proposal states that “the standards are projected to result in estimated national energy savings of 0.46 quads FFC, the equivalent of the electricity use of 19 million residential homes in one year,” and “represent the maximum improvement in energy efficiency that is technologically feasible and economically justified.”
Conclusion: Your Stove Is Safe, But New Stoves Could Be Impacted by Proposed Rule Changes
Despite warnings from some politicians and media outlets, there is no evidence of federal efforts to remove gas stoves that are currently in American homes.
However, proposed rule changes, if adopted, could significantly limit new sales and installations. AllSides could not independently verify what the exact impact of these proposed changes would be, but the concern is that they may restrict production and sale of gas stoves to such an extent that it serves as a de facto ban on currently-available products.
Fact-checkers were quick to dismiss claims of a ban in January, and have yet to update their fact checks following the DOE’s proposed rule in February.
The writer of the USA Today article told AllSides they are not planning to update their fact-check, deeming the gas stove ban to be false. Factcheck.org didn’t reply to inquiries.
While later developments did change the conversation, the initial claims that President Biden was “coming for your gas stove” incorrectly imply that your current gas stove is at risk.
It’s also misinformation to simply call those statements false. That wrongly implies that the Biden administration is not proposing regulations that would dramatically limit installations of future gas stoves.
The Facts: Based on the Energy Dept. proposal and the congressional analysis, it seems that large-scale limitations may be on the table. Whether 96% of gas stoves on the market will be banned, as Rep. Lesko suggests, is unclear at this point.
The gas stove drama spawned out of out-of-context statements, unclear proposals, and sensationalism. Regardless of the outcome of proposed regulations, it’s a lesson in how media and politicians sow fear and anger in their base.
Claiming that a political rival is “coming for your ____” is a reliable way to energize an electorate and gain supporters, but not a reliable way to construct a well-functioning democracy.
Immediately dismissing claims from the opposite side of the political spectrum as “false” and declining to clarify or retract the dismissal after more information comes to light is a reliable way to prevent a media outlet's readers from being exposed to the flaws in the politicians they support, but it’s not a reliable way to build an audience of holistically informed readers.
If you want to make your voice heard on the topic, consider submitting a comment on the proposed rule change at this link before April 17. → https://www.regulations.gov/commenton/EERE-2014-BT-STD-0005-0096.
Isaiah Anthony is a Deputy Blog Editor at AllSides. He has a center bias.
This blog was reviewed by Managing Editor Henry A. Brechter (Center bias), CEO John Gable (Lean Right bias), News Editor Joseph Ratliff (Lean Left bias) and Director of Research Andrew Weinzierl (Lean Left bias).