Gas Stoves Leak Even When Off

Gas Stoves Leak Even When Off

Even when gas stoves aren't on, they are leaking. That's the latest research on residential gas stoves, which are found in about a third of US homes. Whether they're decades old or just out of the box, gas stoves give off methane, a climate-damaging "natural" gas. Adjusted to carbon dioxide emissions, gas stoves across the US are giving off emissions comparable to half a million gas-powered cars.

As Eric Lebel, a research scientist with PSE Healthy Energy and the report's lead author put it: "The mere existence of the stoves is really what's driving those methane emissions. We found that over three-quarters of the methane emissions from stoves are emitted while the stove is off. So these little tiny leaks from the stoves, they really do add up."

Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment: Stanford researchers find high emissions of greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants from gas stoves, January 22, 2022.

Why This Matters

About a quarter of climate change thus far is from methane gas. Gas is often marketed as a clean or bridge fuel, but this research is yet another affirmation that this is not the case. Methane that's leaking from stoves is a contributing factor to the 10% of US emissions from heating and cooking. And like so many climate impacts, there are intertwined layers of harm to the planet and human health: in addition to the longer-term climate damage, gas stoves also expose people to air pollution that can cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Methane Leaks Are Everywhere

Replacing gas stoves can help reduce methane emissions, but gas leaks are found everywhere gas is. The invisible leaks from oil and gas sites can give off hundreds of pounds of methane per hour -- a 2019 New York Times investigation found super-emitting plants giving off as much as 1,077 pounds of methane per hour.

While gas leaks are invisible to the human eye, new satellite technology is making it possible to ID leaks from above earth. Over the next two years, 10 new satellites will launch and create a more continuous, high-resolution picture of methane emissions -- an improvement from past technology that only allowed for snapshots. Better monitoring will create better data that can be used to hold companies and governments accountable for putting methane into the atmosphere

Bloomberg: Bloomberg Green - The Dangers of Methane Gas, October 11, 2021.

Now This: Methane - The Greenhouse Gas We Can No Longer Ignore, August 23, 2021.