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The Electric Kettle - It's The Quickest And Most Efficient Way To Heat Water

Updated on October 4, 2012

Some people are sure that using a burner on the stove top is the most economical way to heat water. Others are sold on the microwave. Still others think that, even if the microwave is the quickest or most economical, the heating somehow damages the water.

And even if a method is the most economical, is it the best method if you’re in a hurry? Which is the most efficient overall?

Surprisingly, the stove top and the microwave, while good at many things, are not that speedy or economical at heating water. If you’re heating up to two quarts of water – the capacity of your standard electric water kettle (sometimes called an electric tea kettle) – the most economical AND the quickest method is using the electric water kettle!

The time and cost comparisons below are made with the containers covered. The stove top burner is electric. (The gas stove top lost even more heat, so it’s not even in the running.)

First, let’s heat a normal coffee cup of water. It’s about 12 ounces. How much energy does each method take and which is the quickest?

Amazingly, the microwave and the electric stovetop burner take the same amount of energy to heat 12 ounces of water, .07 kWh.

The electric kettle took only .04 kWh of energy.

How long did it take to heat 12 ounces of water, using each method?

Microwave 3:28 minutes

Stovetop burner 4:07 minutes

Electric kettle 2:14 minutes.

For two quarts of water, the difference is even greater.

The microwave took the most energy to heat 2 quarts of water, .40 kWh. The stovetop burner was next, with .21 kWh.

The electric kettle came in with the least energy cost, at .16 kWh.

The time needed to heat 2 quarts of water showed even bigger differences.

Microwave 17.52 minutes

Stove top burner 13.01 minutes

Electric kettle 7:23 minutes

The additional advantage of the electric kettle is that it automatically shuts off when the water is the correct temperature. So if you keep letting things boil dry (or you know someone who does), for safety reasons this is also an excellent choice. Most of the kettles are cordless and plug onto a base. If you are comparing corded and cordless models, I would also highly recommend taking the cordless option.

When you’re heating water for pasta, consider heating it in the kettle and adding the hot water to the pasta to reach a boil on the stove. You could easily save 10 minutes of dinner prep time!

I purchased an electric kettle for $18.00 on sale (and with coupons) last year, and have enjoyed the convenience very much.

You can watch for a sale, and/or use coupons to reduce the price. However, they are usually reasonably priced, so you could even ask the right person for one as a birthday or Christmas present. It’s also a great little appliance to have in a dorm room.

I prefer the stainless steel kettle. It doesn’t break if it’s dropped, like a glass kettle would. It is also free of that plastic aftertaste, which can’t be said of many of the plastic kettles.

I’ve listed some stainless steel kettles at the right. They are all from Amazon, all qualify for free shipping, have excellent ratings from a large number of reviewers and two of the three are modestly priced.


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    • Healthy Pursuits profile image

      Karla Iverson 14 months ago from Oregon

      I still love my electric kettle! It's so much handier than anything else I've used to heat water.Especially with cold nights now, I enjoy a good hot herbal tea.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 15 months ago from the short journey

      I'm planning on buying an electric kettle after the first of the year. Thanks for this look at them as it gives me a starting place.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 15 months ago from Long Island, NY

      I can attest to what you said. I use an electric kettle similar to the ones you show. Mine is made by Farberware. Ever since I started using it, I've noticed how much faster it heats the water compared to heating it on the stovetop. Your calculations are useful. You clearly show the results of heating water various ways.