Save Energy, Money and Environment by Using Efficient Electric Cooking Appliances

  • Category: news
  • Published: Friday, 16 August 2019 07:50
  • Written by Mr. Shuma
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Tanzanians depend fully or partly on firewood and charcoal for daily cooking needs. Cooking is mainly done on traditional, low-efficiency stoves, that use charcoal produced locally through informal and uncontrolled value chains and with basic, low-yield technology. Alternative fuels and technologies that are suitable for domestic cooking are available, but have seen only very limited market development so far. Extensive and inefficient use of biomass combined with unsustainable harvesting practices is the single largest cause of demand for biomass and depletion of forest reserves. The situation does not only represent a threat for the climate and the environment. Adverse socio-economic effects of the current practices makes the lack of access to sustainable cooking solutions a poverty trap and create high barriers for economic development.

The different alternatives fuels represent different improvement potential of energy for cooking in Tanzania.  Some fuels and technologies such as LPG, ICS and Green Charcoal (Briquettes) are important parts of the solution, with higher impact than kerosene and biogas plants.Electricity is the cleanest way of cooking food and with the current domestic electricity tariffs in Tanzania and cookers which are traditionally used by majority, was perceived as energy which is not affordable for the users. However, the economic value for the society as a whole is limited, and transition to electric cookers requires significant changes in people’s cooking habits. The relatively affordability of electric appliances by upper middle and high income population groups encourage it to be option which will be practised by those groups in the community.

People in Tanzania cook varieties of foodstuffs.The country’s food portfolio is largely based on starches and proteins like maize, rice, bananas, cassava, potatoes, millet, beans, animal meat, milk, vegetables, etc.  These foods are grown in different rural areas of the country but transported to other areas through food market chains.  Maize, beans, meat and vegetables based foods are cooked everywhere in the country.   Others are area specific grown and consumed in one region and distributed to other areas to supply that variety of food to people with familiarity with it.  There is minor changes on types of food cooked and now a days, some people in urban areas are eating from restaurant in the morning and afternoon while at home in the evening. 

The options for energy efficient cooking always raises questions of either to use LPGor electricity versus charcoal and firewood bear in mind that a substantial number of people has accepted to use improved cookstoves.  However, according to the findings of the study which was conducted by TaTEDO in partnership with a UK research consortium (Gamos Ltd., University of Surrey and Loughborough University) on a Transformation Household Solar Battery – Electric Cooker for Poverty Alleviation shows that cooking with electricity is affordable and possible even in off-grid areas. The cooking by electricity can be done either in on-grid areas by using grid electricity or off grid areas by using solar PV systems powering the solar batteries. 

The electric cooking technology requires change of behaviours of people from use of woodfuels.   The introduction of the electric cooking will completely change the way to use the kitchen and cooking practices.  The shift in urban areas could be of more rapidly than rural areas.  This is attributed to affordability, capacity building and other people still preferred cooking over her open fire rather than on new battery supported electric stove.  Energy saving and cost saving will be main drivers for adopting the electric appliances and battery supported electricity.  The electric pressure cookers, electric rice cookersand thermal pots have been observed by study to be best options in the market that will be affordable and compatible to the on-grid and battery supported electricity.

TaTEDO has conducted three promotion and capacity trainings for electric cooking by using electric pressure cookers, electric rice cookersand thermal pots.  More than 350peoplehave been trained on how to use efficient electric cooking appliances in urban and rural areas of Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Mtwara and Lindi regions

All of selected appliances use pressure cooking technologies.  A pressure cooker works by cooking food with high-pressure steam.  As food is heated in the pot, it builds steam, raising the pressure inside the pot. As the pressure builds up inside the pot, it makes it harder for water molecules from food in the remaining liquid to turn to gas, raising the boiling point of the water. Water normally boils at 212°F (100°C), but inside a pressure cooker, the boiling point can get as high as 250°F (120°C).

Pressure cookers speed cooking in two ways. First, the higher heat inside the pot cooks food faster than you can with ordinary boiling water or steam. Second, the high pressure forces the moisture into the food, so it heats through quickly.A pressure cooker can cook nearly any food faster than baking or boiling. For foods that take an hour or longer to cook on the stove, such as dry beans or brown rice, the pressure cooker can cut cooking time by as much as 70%.Pressure cooking has other advantages, too. The high-pressure cooking preserves the flavour of food in a way that ordinary steaming can’t. And the high temperatures inside the pressure cooker can even allow food to brown and caramelize, producing rich, complex flavours that you normally can’t get when cooking with water.

Cooking with electric pressure cookers, electric rice cookersand thermal pots is cheaper than cooking with hot plate, LPG, kerosene, charcoal and firewood.  The experience from user trained by TaTEDO shows that less than TZS 20,000 is enough for cooking per month.  This is contrary to monthly fuel costs of charcoal of TZS 80,000; LPG can of 45,000 and 25 litres of kerosene which its cost is 50,000. It has been difficult for some people to believe this miracle, with rights electric technology, one can cook with electricity at affordable rates compared to other cooking energy resources.  

Clean, affordable and reliable energy access is one of the most important requisites for decent livelihoods, next to water and food. Unfortunately, our current energy system excludes a major portion of population from this fundamental right.Policies and strategies tend to focus on a transition to modern cooking fuels and technologies, moving away from biomass energy resources. While a transition in urban areas may be realistic, stakeholders may have to reconsider their strategy for improving livelihoods when it comes to improved cooking conditions.