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By James Dulley, Published July 10 2009

Dual-fuel range makes good sense for cooking

Dear Jim: I have always liked to cook and I particularly like the large professional gas ranges. I am concerned that the big burners will use more gas. Are they efficient and should I get a dual-fuel design? – Jen W.

Dear Jen: It is not uncommon today to see professional-style gas ranges in new and remodeled kitchens. Most of these, except for some painted retro models, have stainless steel exteriors to match other stainless steel kitchen appliances.

Don’t just go shopping or do a computer search and select a true professional gas range. You must use one that is certified by the AGA (American Gas Association) for residential use. These models have many safety features, such as a cool exterior. These make a residential certified model somewhat more expensive.

Most professional chefs and serious cooks prefer a gas range over an electric one because gas burners provide more precise control over the heat. When you turn off or turn down the gas flame, the heat stops or decreases immediately. With an electric range, there often is residual heat and a lag until the stove top cools. Electric induction elements can minimize this problem though.

Although professional-style ranges do have some very large burners, cooking with one should not use considerably more gas. Burner size is rated by the maximum Btuh (Btu per hour) heat output of the burners, which can be as high a 15,000 on a professional range. Most of your cooking is not done at the maximum heat output.

Actually, the large gas burners may save gas as compared to a standard residential gas range if you use the correct sized pots and pans. When boiling a pot of water, for example, a large burner can bring the water to a boil quicker and then you turn down the heat. By reducing the total cooking time, less heat is lost from the pot to the room air.

Just as many professional chefs prefer gas ranges, they often also prefer electric ovens. Residual heat in the electric heating element is good because it holds the temperature fairly constant when it is switched on and off from the thermostat. A gas range often has larger temperature swings.

If you plan to do a lot of baking, a dual-fuel model with a gas range and electric oven is a good choice. The heating wattages of the broiler and baking electric elements can be as high as 3,000 watts. Selecting one with a convection option can speed baking and save electricity overall.

Standard width 30-inch professional-type gas models are available to replace an existing range. If you are remodeling your kitchen, plan on space for a 36- or 48-inch wide model. This provides space for more optional burners and work space.

The following companies offer professional-style gas ranges: Dacor, (800) 793-0093, www.dacor.com; Five Star Ranges, (800) 553-7704, www.fivestarrange.com; Heartland Appliances, (877) 650-5775, www.heartland

app.com; Viking Ranges, (888) 845-4641, www.vikingrange.

com; and Wolf Appliances, (800) 332-9513, www.wolfappliance.com.

Dear Jim: I want to seal my old windows, but I am having a problem getting the old caulking out without gouging the wood. Can I just put the new caulk over the old? – Fred F.

Dear Fred: Although it may be difficult, definitely remove as much of the old brittle caulk as possible. Caulking over old caulk is just asking for trouble and having to do the job again next year.

Here is a tip to try. Hold a wide steel drywall knife on the wood molding to protect it. Slide a scraper along the knife to make a clean straight cut through the old caulk without damaging the wood.

Send inquiries to James Dulley, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244, or visit www.dulley.com