Energy-efficient and versatile, steam cookers can cook vegetables, meats and rice faster than a conventional oven and allow food to retain its moisture. Because steam contains more energy than hot air, food cooks up to 40-60 percent faster and tends to require less monitoring than hot air cooking. As an added bonus, frozen foods can be defrosted and cooked in a single step.

Steam cookers are available in electric and natural gas models. High-efficiency gas models are approximately 38 percent efficient, while high-efficiency electric steamers can be up to 50 percent efficient. Both types are an improvement on conventional models, which can be between 30 and 35 percent efficient. ENERGY STAR-qualified steamers include design elements that improve efficiency, including better insulation, steam delivery systems with forced convection, automated controls and reduced energy use during idle periods.

High-efficiency gas-powered steam cookers cost approximately $7,000, while electric models will run you about $4,000.

If you choose to purchase a high-efficiency steam cooker, you can expect to save between $375 and $449 (approximately) per year, with a payback period of about 7.5 months for a gas-powered model and three months for an electric product. (If you’re interested, take a look at the rebate that’s available when you purchase and install a high-efficiency natural gas steam cooker.)

For more information about commercial steam cookers, check out this article from Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency.

Do you have a steam cooker in your kitchen? Share your experience in the comments.

Image credit: dinnercraft