Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

In Ecuador, emissions and hospitalizations fell 'in lockstep' with electric stove adoption

A new analysis of one of the world’s largest residential electrification programs suggests switching from gas to electric stoves can reduce climate emissions and hospitalization rates faster than previously thought if the power grid is green.

When households switch from gas to electric stoves that draw power from a green grid, the benefits for climate and health may be larger and more immediate than expected, a new study finds.

Young woman cooks on induction stovetop
A program in Ecuador put induction stoves in 750,000 households. (Image credit: Getty Images)

The research, published Aug. 15 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examines the impacts of an electrification program – one of the world’s largest – that put induction stoves in 750,000 households in Ecuador. According to the authors, greenhouse gas emissions and hospitalization rates at the national level likely declined “in lockstep” with increased adoption and use of induction stoves over the first six years of the program.

“Our study expands the growing body of evidence suggesting that gas to electric transitions, when the grid is green, can achieve both climate and health benefits. Ecuador is a remarkable case study for this kind of large-scale transition,” said lead author Carlos Gould, who worked on the study as a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Marshall Burke, an environmental economist at the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability.

At a time when residential electrification programs are being designed or implemented around the world due to presumed effects on pollution and health, the new research provides one of the first large-scale assessments of this type of program in action. 

“Residential electrification programs that aim to either ensure that new buildings do not install gas lines or to incentivize the replacement of gas appliances with electric ones are already happening in communities such as San Francisco or are targeted in the near- to medium-term future in Boston and in New York City Housing Authority buildings,” said Gould, who is now an assistant professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California San Diego. Countries such as the Netherlands, Australia, Nepal, and Indonesia are also seeking to phase households to electric cooking.

Policies or programs that promote decarbonization could also have immediate and very large health benefits at population scale.

Marshall Burke Associate Professor in the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability's social sciences division

Electrification in action

In Ecuador, subsidies from the country’s “program for efficient cooking,” which was designed to help households switch to using induction stoves rather than gas stoves for cooking, spurred one out of every 10 Ecuadorian households to install induction stoves between 2015 and 2021.

Gould and colleagues analyzed 130 million monthly household utility bills during this period and estimated that the program resulted in a 5% increase in residential electricity and a 7.5% decline in liquid petroleum gas consumption. With hydroelectricity powering the grid, the program was found to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by a net 7% from 2015 to 2021.

The team also examined 9.6 million hospitalizations in Ecuador with data from January 2012, prior to the electrification program’s launch, through March 2020 when the program was fully underway. Researchers estimated that, for a location where an additional 1% of households enrolled in the program, hospitalization rates for both all-cause illness of any kind and for respiratory illness, specifically, fell by 0.74%. Hospitalization rates for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, or COPD, fell by just over 2%. 

"A key insight is that policies or programs that promote decarbonization could also have immediate and very large health benefits at population scale,” said Burke, who is the study’s senior author and an associate professor in the global environmental policy area of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability’s social sciences division. “Our study shows that the co-benefits of adopting these programs could be much larger than previously thought.” 

This story was adapted from a press release originally published by the University of California San Diego.

Burke is also a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, at Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, and at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR). He is a member of Bio-X and of the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, deputy director at the Center on Food Security and the Environment, and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Other Stanford co-authors include political science postdoctoral scholar Brandon de la Cuesta. Additional co-authors are affiliated with Universidad San Francisco de Quito and Columbia University.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health Common Fund program for Global Health and the Clean Cooking Implementation Science Network at the Fogarty International Center.

Media Contacts

Carlos Gould
University of California San Diego

Yadira Galindo
University of California San Diego
(619) 379-3977,

Josie Garthwaite
Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability
(650) 497-0947,

Explore More