Are you a big fan of cooking with gas? It has its benefits – more control over the range of heat reaching the pot and of course, when you turn it off….it’s off.  But, you might be surprised to learn that gas cooktops emit both carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) when you turn on the burners.

From an indoor air quality standpoint, the only healthy option used to be the simple electric cooktop, but no more. With the introduction of induction cooking, those of us that prefer cooking with gas but don’t want the combustion toxins, can have our cake and eat it too!

THD 36 All Induction Cooktop

Induction cooking is the first technology that offers all the benefits of cooking with gas, and none of the drawbacks. The photo above (courtesy of Thermador®) shows a 36-inch-wide induction cooktop. Here’s why you might want to consider this option.

  • It’s Fast: Induction heating is even faster than gas. Since induction reacts with the iron in each cooking vessel, transferring energy directly within the metal of the pan, the cooking surface will heat only the surface area of the pot and nothing else. Of course, in order for this concept to work, pots must have iron content (aluminum won’t work) and a flat bottom for proper contact with the cooking surface.
  • It’s Safe: If food or grease overflows from the pot or pan, there’s no risk of fire, no risk of burns from touching the cooktop surface, and no concern about dangerous fumes from gas or other cooking fuels. Children can’t be burned by touching a hot burner, because the cooktop surface remains cool.
  • It’s Easy to Clean: With no grates, elements, or burned-on, impossible-to-remove stuff to worry about, cleanup is a breeze. Just use a damp cloth to wipe off the flat, easy-to-clean surface. This is a huge improvement over most gas cooktops, which can be an absolute nightmare to clean.
  • It’s Energy-Efficient: Induction cooking is more energy-efficient than halogen, gas, or traditional electric ranges. When using an induction cooktop, 90 percent of every dollar you spend on energy goes right where you want it: into the pan. Gas delivers 55 percent of the energy generated to the cooking vessel, traditional electric about 65 percent. And there’s no cooldown period. When you remove a pan from an induction cooking surface, the cooktop immediately goes into standby mode, which uses almost no energy at all. According to CEG Electric Glass Company, a producer of induction cooktops, with induction cooking it’s realistic to achieve energy savings of 40–70 percent over a conventional cooktop. The kitchen stays cooler, too!

The features of an induction cooktop come with a price, but if you’re likely to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the daily convenience and energy savings can be worth every penny.

If you envision switching to an induction cooktop in the future, have the electrician include a 220 outlet in the appropriate location. The traditional 110 outlet used for most cooktops is not a match for this product.

There are several suppliers of induction cooktops, including Thermador, Viking, and KitchenAid®

As always, The Difference is in the Details.


It sure does mess up your day when you turn on the water in the morning and nothing happens. We were the recipients of that inconvenience this past weekend. The first thing that came to mind was, “Oh no, the pump has finally bit the dust”. As it turns out the problem was electrical in origin. However, even more frustrating than being without water was the fact that this problem could have been avoided, along with the expense and manual labor that followed. I’m telling you our story so that those of you whose new homes will be supplied by well water can easily sidestep the following scenario.

Step One: Determine the well water service problem. We were pleased that the well company could promptly respond to our call. Of course it was Saturday (translation – time and a half for labor). The well professional quickly determined the main electrical wire leading from the house to the well had given up the ghost and that it was not installed in a chase – also known as a conduit. There’s the rub. A chase (PCV pipe in our case) allows a new wire to be pulled through without unearthing the damaged one or burying a new one. I’m amazed that a chase wasn’t installed in the first place – seems like a no-brainer to me – but live and learn. Although the wire was rated for underground use (meaning a chase is not required), that definition is not synonymous with “it won’t give you problems down the road”.

Next, we had a choice. We could either pay the well guy some crazy amount per hour to dig a ditch in order to access the wire or we could do it ourselves. Keep in mind that code in our area requires the wire be buried two foot underground, so we’re talking some significant digging here. Guess what we did.

Step Two: Begin repairs. We decided that it would be best to have an entirely new wire installed in a chase instead of just patching the old one. The electrician would be there later in the afternoon providing us time to commence digging.  As it turns out the water was finally restored to our home around 7pm that night. That was after my husband and I (mostly my husband) dug a two-foot deep ditch that turned out to be 38 feet long.


As you can see, the ditch was a straight shot from the house to the well. (The original wire took a 90 degree turn near the house and we never saw it again.) What a way to spend a Saturday. We’ve never been so grateful for sandy soil! A new wire was installed in a chase, eliminating ever having to go through this labor-intensive process again.


Step Three: Put the pieces back together. My husband spent Sunday morning putting the yard back together. Doesn’t look too bad, does it?


Yes, we put in some manual labor and forked over several hundred dollars but… let’s look on the bright side:

* A new pump would have cost a ton more than this electrical fix.
* The weather was beautiful.
* We have very sandy soil, not hard clay.
* We didn’t have a house full of people. Oh my, could you imagine!
* We weren’t planning to entertain and didn’t have any plans we had to cancel
* The two professionals we called were both able to respond with very short notice.

To avoid our experience, I suggest you get confirmation from the appropriate subcontractor that a chase will be installed. Also take pictures, or have your builder do so, with two goals in mind: 1) a record of the trench location and 2) visual confirmation of the chase installation.

As always, The Difference is in the Details.



Rules Preventing You from Building and Living Sustainably

December 31, 2012

Local City and County Ordinances: Look at this beautiful front yard garden adorning this green home located in the downtown area of a city in Florida. The homeowners are adamant about nourishing their bodies with organically grown food. They even raise chickens in the backyard. Reducing their carbon footprint is accomplished by producing a good […]

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REMODology: The Conflict-Free Home Remodeling Process

November 6, 2012

Can you imagine breaking ground on your remodeling project with all bases covered (even those that might lead to potential problems), with all the details on the table, and with confirmation of these details in writing? Wouldn’t it be great to have the peace of mind that comes from pre-determining specifics such as: All Costs: […]

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Home Building: 4 Choices You Won’t Get to Make, Unless.. (Part 3)

October 12, 2012

Convenience, indoor air quality, product durability, moisture removal, noise level and energy efficiency are just some of the benefits that can be compromised when you’re left out of a portion of your new home product selecting process. In the first two editions of this blog series we discussed the ramifications of not being involved in […]

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Home Building: 4 Choices You Won’t Get to Make, Unless.. (Part 2)

September 10, 2012

The whole point of building your own home is having the opportunity to choose what you want, but some selections can be left up to chance unless you get involved. Without your input you will more than likely miss out on preferred options and conveniences. In Part 1 of this blog series we talked about […]

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Home Building: 4 Choices That Won’t Include You, Unless.. (Part 1)

August 27, 2012

Although every new home construction or remodeling project is accompanied by an almost endless number of decisions, the whole point of building your own home is having the opportunity to choose what you want. Still, the selection of some all-too-common home elements is often left to chance. The information in this blog series can help […]

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3 Creative Solar Panel Locations

August 6, 2012

Most of us envision panels attached to the roof when we think about adding solar energy production to our homes but I’d like to challenge you to think outside that box. There are alternatives for locating solar panels that can reduce construction costs, provide easier access for cleaning, be more esthetically pleasing and serve a […]

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How to Reduce Exterior Sheathing Leakage by Up to 60%

July 5, 2012

Designing and constructing a tight building enclosure is the most important component of an energy-efficient home. Without it, the rest is irrelevant. We hear a lot about various factors that contribute to a tightly built home, such as insulating the walls and including insulated windows, but not much about the exterior sheathing. However, traditionally installed […]

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Why Seal the Top of the Drywall and Three Ways to Accomplish this Task

May 18, 2012

Energy Star Version 3 requires sealing the top of the drywall to the framing top plate below an unconditioned space. But even if you aren’t building an Energy Star home, this step is worth taking. Why? Strapping and wood variations allow leakage between conditioned living space and unconditioned attic space as shown in this thermal […]

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