March 1984 // Volume 22 // Number 2 // Ideas at Work // 2IAW1

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Electric Cooking Appliances - Kitchen Helpers or Dust Catchers?


Janice Woodard
Extension Specialist,
Home Management and Equipment

Extension Specialist
Agricultural Engineering
Virginia Tech-Blacksburg

Are all those Popular electric cooking appliances such as microwave ovens, electric skillets, and toaster ovens being used? To find the answer to this question, one group of consumers was surveyed at the 1983 state meeting of the Young Farmers and Young Homemakers Association in Roanoke, Virginia. We conducted the survey in conjunction with an exhibit on "Saving Energy with Today's Countertop Appliances" sponsored by the Virginia Farm and Home Electrification Council.

People who stopped to view the exhibit were invited to register on a 3 x 5 card for a portable appliance given away by the council. Part of the registration procedure- requi red for eligibility to win the gift appliancewas a simple survey about ownership and frequency of use of cooking appliances (Table 1).

Survey participants owned an average of 2.9 of the 6 selected appliances. Of the 174 participants, 85% owned an electric skillet, 83% a slow cooker, 60 % a toaster oven, 54 % a microwave oven, 21 % a portable convection oven, and 12% a microwave/ convection oven.

Table 1. Use survey of cooking appliances
How often do you use?
(check your answer)
Do not own 4 or more per week 1-3 per week Once a month 3-4 per year Seldom/Never
Electric skillet  
Microwave/cOnvection oven  
Range oven (2 or more foods
at a time)
Range oven (single items in
small quantities)
Slow cooker  
Toaster oven  
List other appliances used
more than 4 times per week

Most of the appliances owned by the survey group were being used frequently The percentage of appliance owners who reported using selected appliances 1 or more times a week was 86% for microwave ovens, 70% for toaster ovens, 68% for portable convection ovens, 55% for electric skillets, and 40% for slow cookers. Thus, the survey group appeared to be maximizimg their investment in countertop appliances.

Using a survey in conjunction with an exhibit accomplishes two things: (1) it increases audience ,forest in the exhibit and (2) provides some useful information about consumer behavior as a basis for educational programming.