The Effect of Solar Ovens on Fuel Use, Emissions, and Health – Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial
Inefficient cookstoves contribute to deforestation and global climate change, require substantial time (usually of women and girls) or money for fuel, and lead to over 1.5 million deaths a year from smoke exposure. We ran a randomized controlled trial in rural Senegal to measure how solar ovens affect wood usage, time spent collecting wood, carbon monoxide exposure, and respiratory illness symptoms. In the sixth month of owning the stove, women in the treatment group used their oven about 19% of days. However, because 80% of our respondents typically cook for more people than the capacity of the solar oven, even cooks using the solar oven always had a fire going at the same time. On average, treatment households did not have statistically significantly lower fuel consumption, time spent collecting fuel, or time spent next to the cook fire. There is no evidence solar ovens reduce exposure to carbon monoxide or self-reported respiratory symptoms such as coughs and sore throats.