Another way to cook – Santa Barbara News-Press

Tri-County Libraries Partner With 3C-Ren To Give Residents A Trial Of Electric Induction Cooktops

Induction cooktops are available at participating Santa Barbara County libraries.

The Tri-County Regional Energy Network, 3C-REN, is partnering with Santa Barbara County and Ventura County Libraries to provide magnetic induction cooktops for local residents to check out and use at home.

These cooktops became available on August 5th and include: an induction-compatible pan and helpful induction cooking information in English and Spanish.

Essentially, it’s a program where residents can “check out” an induction cooktop during a trial period just like they would check out a book from the library. The induction cooktop is part of the Library of Things, which allows patrons to check out non-library items.

Participating libraries include the Santa Barbara Public Library.

Induction cooktops can be checked out at the Central Library in Santa Barbara.

The News-Press asked Erika Helson, portfolio manager at 3C REN, about the benefits of induction cooktops.

“For some, it’s a health issue, removing the gas from the kitchen and not being exposed to gas fumes,” Mr Helson said. “For others, it’s a matter of safety, again removing the gas flame. For others, it’s the cooking experience and precision induction offerings.

“Electric induction provides more accurate and even distribution in a pot or pan. For others, it is due to environmental issues that exclude gas from their homes.”

Residents can use the stove to try out different recipes, and when they’re done, they return it to the library.

The inspection period for induction hobs is three weeks. Nine kits are available in Santa Barbara County and 20 in Ventura County. The program is available in San Luis Obispo County, but is not administered by 3C-REN there.

“If you see a waiting list, be patient. They will become available,” Ms. Helson said.

Speaking from personal experience, Ms. Helson cited convenience as another benefit of induction cooktops.

“It’s so easy to clean,” he said. “It’s a smooth, wipeable glass surface.”

According to Ms. Helson, induction cooktops are also more energy efficient than gas and electric cooktops.

The News-Press asked Ms. Helson if there are any safety concerns or drawbacks to induction cooktops.

“If someone has a pacemaker, they should check with their doctor first,” he said.

Another disadvantage is that induction cooktops are more expensive to purchase upfront than gas cooktops. According to Forbes, gas stoves range from $300 to $1,500; while induction units start at $1,500 to $2,500.

The News-Press asked Ms. Helson how an induction unit would affect her monthly utility bill.

“Because induction is more energy efficient, it will use less energy,” he said. “How this translates into utility costs can vary depending on the customer’s gas and electricity costs. It’s probably a wash, or maybe a savings for homes with induction cooktops and cheaper electricity. Overall, cooking accounts for a relatively small percentage of total home energy use.’

In addition, Ms. Helson explained how this partnership with this library began. “It all started with the do-it-yourself energy-saving toolkits we launched last year with libraries. As more and more people became interested in induction, we wanted to expand the program.

“People are interested in induction, but they want to try it out before switching to another one,” he said.

The induction hob comes with induction-compatible cookware. It also comes with a magnet so you can check your own pans.

“Stainless steel, cast iron or anything that has a magnet that sticks to a pot or pan is induction compatible,” Ms. Helson said.

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Induction cooktops are available at participating libraries in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

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