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Blog Post 4 April 2023 Updated 15 July 2024

Is it cheaper to cook with an air fryer, oven, microwave, hob or slow cooker?

Around 3% of the average home’s energy use comes from cooking. And with energy bills still high, it’s worth thinking about what appliances you use when you cook your meals.

Depending on what you’re cooking, some appliances are more energy efficient than others. This helps lower your energy costs as well as your carbon footprint.

To help you save energy and money in your kitchen, our energy experts have looked at how much it costs to use some common cooking appliances.*

Air fryer: best for one to two people

Typical cost to cook a 600g chicken breast: £0.13 in Great Britain (GB) and £0.21 in Northern Ireland (NI).

An air fryer works like a small conventional fan oven. Because they’re small, air fryers are often cheaper to run than an oven for the same meal.

In this example, it would cost £0.18 in GB and £0.29 in NI to cook the same portion of chicken in an electric oven. This makes the air fryer an ideal choice for preparing smaller amounts of food for one or two people.

Top tip: Try not to open the compartment any more than necessary to avoid letting out heat and wasting energy.

Microwave: best for reheating and quick cooking

Typical cost to cook a 400g ready-made lasagne: £0.03 in GB and £0.05 in NI.

Instead of heating the air around it, your microwave directly heats the food. This means your microwave will cook and reheat food quickly, so its cost per use is likely to be lower than many other cooking appliances. 

Top tip: Batch cooking in a full oven and then reheating portions as you need them in the microwave can help keep your energy bills down.

Electric ovens: best for batch cooking

Typical cost to cook a 600g chicken breast: £0.18 in GB and £0.29 in NI.

Ovens are generally bigger than other cooking appliances, so they use more energy to heat up. This means a typical electric oven can be the most expensive cooking appliance to run for individual portions of food.

However, their larger size means you can fit a lot of food in at once, so they’re better for batch cooking or cooking for a large group. Using your oven in these situations could be the best value for money.

Top tip: Avoid opening the oven door any more than necessary while the oven is on to keep hot air inside and reduce wasted energy.

Is it cheaper to boil water in the kettle before adding it to the pan?

This depends on whether your hob is powered by gas or electricity.

If you have an electric hob, you’ll save energy and money by boiling the water in the kettle first.

If you have a gas hob, you’ll use less energy but you won’t save money. This is because the unit cost of electricity is higher than gas.

Gas or electric hob: best for quick meals

Typical cost per use: £0.10 – £0.24 in GB and £0.16 – £0.18 in NI.

Using the hob is typically quite cheap. Generally, you won’t need to have a hob on for long to prepare meals such as pasta or an omelette.

Using a gas hob does produce more direct carbon emissions than an electric hob, though. So if you’re just using it to reheat food, consider using a microwave instead to reduce your carbon footprint.

Top tip: Cover your pots and pans with a lid when you’re cooking to keep heat in and reduce wasted energy.

Slow cooker: best for busy schedules

Typical cost to cook 3.6kg home-made beef stew: £0.31 in GB and £0.50 in NI.

Slow cookers are designed to cook food gradually over a long period of time, so they’re a convenient way to cook if you have a busy schedule. 

They’re also a great way to make several meals’ worth of food in one go. 

Top tip: To save energy, avoid leaving them on longer than necessary. If you’re going to be out for longer, use the ‘low’ setting.

Quick energy-saving tips when cooking

  • Boil potatoes on the hob before roasting them to reduce the time they need to cook in the oven.
  • Fully defrost frozen leftovers in the fridge before reheating in the microwave. This uses less energy compared to cooking from frozen.
  • If you’re able, switch off your air fryer, slow cooker, microwave and electric oven at the plug.
  • If you want to heat food quickly, consider using a pressure cooker to cut down on cooking times.

For more tips, find out how you can save energy in the kitchen.

*Appliances’ cost per use is calculated using lab testing for specific foods.

Top five tips to save energy in the kitchen

Here are some quick tips to help you save energy in the kitchen and save money on your energy bills.

How to get the most out of your kitchen appliances

Having a more energy efficient kitchen isn’t simply about replacing all your appliances with better-performing new ones.

Last updated: 15 July 2024