Does It Cost More to Cook on the Oven or the Grill in the Summertime?

Beef and Corn on a Charcoal BBQ grill

Beef and Corn on a Charcoal BBQ grill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to the lower energy cost cooking option in the summer time, which burns more green: the oven or the grill?

Some background.

It’s heat wave season and I’m starting to feel it in my non-central-air-controlled-brick-oven home. I’m also reading all about it in the many energy savings posts I’ve come across in the vast personal finance corner of the blogosphere. It got me thinking, what costs more money; using my oven to cook (and cook my family with it) or going outside to grill?

Of course, Trent has already written something on this, but I thought I’d bring it into the 2012’s. Besides, I have a twist that Trent did not consider.

The Cost of Cooking on My Oven

I may not be bragging to my friends about my awesome prowess at pan frying, but cooking on an oven is cheap.

I’ll assume a 1,500 watt electric burner. I know from many long years of burger flipping experience that it takes 10 minutes to cook a burger without all the juicy e coli. Based on my electric bill last month, it costs about $.03 to prepare dinner on the oven.

The Cost of Cooking on My Grill

The grill on the other hand puts out 21,700 BTUs. I located a useful formula for calculating the life of a 20 gallon propane tank. It has a constant in the formula, so you know it has to be reliable.

Based on the formula and my grill output, the grill should run for 21.86 hours. However, a better way to look at it would be 131 burger making adventures, but we’ll use 125 to be on the safe side. My local propane refill station costs $16. So dividing the cost by 125 uses we come to $.12 per use. It’s nearly four times the cost of using the oven.

Yes, but the Oven Will Make the Central Air Work Harder

As I mentioned earlier, my home does not have central air. I wish I did though, because the oven heats up the kitchen and adjacent rooms by a few degrees. That’s more than enough to make most of my home very unpleasant in the summer time. What would it cost to negate the rise in temperature from cooking?

A standard 2.5 ton A/C unit is going to run at about 3,500 watts. Using my handy dandy electric bill, it costs $.41 an hour to run based on my supply and delivery charges. Let’s guess that my dream A/C unit needs to run for 30 minutes to reduce the 1-2 degree rise in temperature from my cooking. Now our A/C cost falls to about $.20. Add in the cost of energy for cooking on the oven at $.03 and using the oven would cost around $.23.

So really, with air cooling costs added, grilling is truly the cheaper way to cook in the summertime!

Think of all the money you will save thanks to my calculations. If you cook burgers for dinner every night for two months on the grill, you are going to save $6.60! That’s enough for one night of burger meat, but just the meat, for the whole family.

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  1. says

    I start getting uncomfortable when temps are higher than 75F, so I just can’t make myself turn on the oven in summer. We’ve got a countertop toaster oven thingy that I’ll use on occasion in the summer, but never the big one. We love to grill, and take advantage whenever the weather cooperates in our somewhat rainy climate. But I still use charcoal–I have a feeling that’s more expensive than propane?

    • John says

      I also used to use a toaster oven to minimize the heat. However, the toaster oven broke. It’s just oven versus grill this summer.

      Charcoal is much more expensive, because it’s harder to control the fuel you use. You won’t get as many cooks in a bag as you would a tank of propane.

  2. says

    Interesting analysis. Like Miss T, I try to do colder meals in the summer time – like tuna stuffed tomatoes and crackers. Other options are the electric frypan, the George Foreman grill and the crockpot. That said, we usually aren’t as hungry in the heat and don’t do as much cooking!

    I do love to grill however and also still use charcoal.

    • John says

      We’ve switched to using the crockpot more and that has been better than the oven. It still boosts the kitchen temp. I’m sure the electric frying pan would do better than the open gas flame on the oven though.

  3. says

    I love my George Foreman grill!! We use it all the time. Actually, our outdoor grill has been broken for months. My husband’s birthday is coming up and my nice, sweet, thoughtful mom is going to buy him a new one! I love to see these cost comparisons. Glad to know my Foreman grill is cost-effective, because I love the ease of use and cleaning it is much easier than the outdoor grill. It doesn’t make me sweat as much either…bonus!

    • John says

      I love grilling. I’m so glad I was able to create a scenario where it is the cheapest option :)

    • John says

      Thanks. Do you do anything to keep the temp down though? There are weeks here where turning on the oven is suicide.

  4. says

    Ohhh… I love how you economics’d (100% verified as a word) all over that.

    Presumably the converse is true in the winter.
    I have a kill-the-planet system at home: all of my utilities are “free” by being included in the condo fees, so we don’t have to internalize them at all.

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