Sous-vide and electricity consumption


An electrifying purple light illuminates Wingo's, a Georgetown dive that serves chicken wings and classic American sandwiches

My father and sister always complain that I’m using too much electricity when sous-vide cooking a piece of food. They get scared by high numbers, namely the 1000-watt heater that I use. You can’t blame them though, considering how lightbulbs in our house operate on a measly ten watts.

Of course, when you analyze the sous-vide system, you begin to realize that the transfer of energy is very much efficient. Unlike cooking foods on a stove where the flame loses energy to the surrounding atmosphere, constant temperature water baths allow energy to transfer directly from the heater, by conduction, to the water. The only loss in energy comes from the heated water itself evaporating or losing heating to the surrounding atmosphere. However, because air is a horrible conductor of heat, such energy loss becomes minimized—even more so if you insulate your water bath than not. Consequently, maintenance of a desired temperature consumes very little energy, oftentimes not much more energy than it takes to initially heat up the water bath.

A little experiment done by a fellow sous-vide cooking blogger proves that the method is not as expensive as my dad and sister originally thought. Further research supports the blogger’s findings. Sure, you could argue that the above findings were procured by advocates and users of sous-vide cooking, but it’s hard to argue with numbers derived from a simple experiment with little room for error or variability.

About Earl

Hi, my name is Earl. I am a student who loves to analyze food and eat healthy. My careful eye for food has caused me to become interested in the science behind food and cooking, and I write about my explorations into food on my website While I believe in sticking to whole, natural foods, I'm not afraid to work with avant-garde ingredients and equipment such as constant temperature water baths and sodium alginate. I also love photography, technology, and journalism.

03. July 2011 von Earl
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