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Which Appliances Have The Highest Electricity Costs

Electricity bills certainly put a dent in your wallet, but you may be paying far more than you need to. A little energy efficiency can go a long way. In the UK on average we spend about 3.4 billion a year on our energy bills. 

There are many appliances in your house that drain a lot of electricity which most people don’t even know about. If you can figure which electrical items are your electricity draining culprits and compare electricity costs, you can save a huge amount of money.

The most expensive appliances

Air condition

There are a lot of appliances in your household that take up a lot of energy and therefore raise the price of your electricity bill. A home's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system are some of the worst offenders, especially during the winter. The best way to save money here is to insulate and seal all ducts and air leaks so your money isn't flying out the window, or a crack in the window.


The second most expensive is lighting, taking up 12% of our energy bills. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent light bulbs. Saving money on energy bills and replacement costs, or even just remembering to turn lights off can help keep costs down.

Washing machine and tumble dryer

Next we have appliances such as the washing machine and the tumble dryer. Major appliances account for about 13% of a home's energy use, with a clothes washer and dryer the largest consumer at 6%.

A way to save money here is just to avoid use of the tumble dryer in the summer and hang your clothes out to dry. Or use moisture sensors as they will turn off a dryer as soon as the clothes are dry, preventing the common problem of over-drying clothes.

Fridge/freezers, dishwashers and ovens

Finally, kitchen appliances such as the fridge/freezer, an electric oven and the dishwasher really run the electricity bill up. Each individual appliance isn’t actually that much to run but when put together, the kitchen ends up being the most expensive room in the house.

So to help avoid this there are some things you can do to help. Keep your fridge at 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit, allow air circulation behind it, minimise the amount of time the door is open and keep the fridge full so it won't lose as much coolness when the door is opened. For the dishwasher, try and scrape the food off before and wash full loads as often as possible.

Is it cheaper to cook using a slow cooker, a microwave or with a traditional oven?

Steam don’t boil

Before we compare the appliances directly. You may like to consider maximising the use of each hob as a way of economising. For instance steaming your vegetables using a steamer pan, whilst you boil your potatoes or rice, will free up a hob and keep your greens nice and crunchy, all at the same time. 

The microwave is obviously the quickest way of cooking, but people tend to only use microwaves for reheating dinners, soup, porridge and pre-cooking the spuds. For the sake of a fair comparison though, here is a comparison table:


Electric Hob

4 Portions frozen vegetables  

  Average Time taken

   6 min

17 min

  Energy consumption (kWh)



  Energy cost (£ )

   2 pence 

   6  pence 

 4 Portions of boiled new potatoes

  Average Time taken

    6 min 30 sec

  24 min 30 sec

  Energy consumption (kWh)



  Energy cost

    2 pence 

  8 pence 

 3 Portions baked beans

  Average Time taken (mins:sec)

   8 min

  9 min

 Energy consumption (kWh)  



  Energy cost (£ )

   3 pence 

  2 pence 

 4 Portions of Porridge

  Average Time taken (mins:sec)

11 min

13 min 30 sec

  Energy consumption (kWh)



  Energy cost (£ )

  4 pence 

  4 pence 


No surprises there. Microwave cooking is cheaper on almost all counts. But, using a microwave has become less popular as society in general has become more health and diet conscious.

Slow Cooker & Low Costs

So for those of us who live busy lives and want to eat healthily, the slow cooker has become an essential tool for modern living. So how does the slow approach compare with the modern oven?

A slow cooker uses about the same energy as a lightbulb, which, even if you slow cook the joint for six hours on a low setting, is still one third of the price of using a conventional electric oven for just one hour.

The Centre for Sustainable Energy ( estimates the average electricity usage of an electric oven at 2 - 2.2kWh, whilst a microwave uses between 0.6 and 1.5kWh. A slow cooker uses only 0.7kWh over the eight hours.

So that settles it! Using a dishwasher and a slow cooker can drastically reduce your energy usage, costing you significantly less than traditional methods.

Dishwasher vs Marigolds

Recent research conducted has compared handwashing with using a dishwasher and the results are pretty conclusive. "Dishwashers use on average 50% less water and 28% less energy".

The least expensive appliances

The least expensive appliances to run are gas ovens, microwave ovens and A-rated washing machines. So just by using a gas oven instead of an electric one can save you so much money and get you the cheapest possible electricity bill.

Each of these appliances only end up costing only around £12 a year, so making a little change can save so much money in the long run. Also buying newer energy efficient models of appliances such as fridges will save you money in the long run too.

What do the experts say?

According to the Energy Saving Trust one dish wash cycle costs the same as 4-6 bowls of water, (9L per bowl). When you consider that a typical dishwasher uses only 13 litres for a full load whereas a tap flows at 6 litres per minute, so the water and energy saved is quite apparent.

“The cost comparison assumes that a typical dishwasher uses 13 litres of water per cycle, while a kitchen tap flows at six litres per minute or a family uses a nine litre washing-up bowl. Water is heated using an average efficiency gas boiler; with the electricity tariff costing 13.52 pence per kWh, gas tariff 4.21 pence per kWh and water tariff £3.01 per cubic metre (1000 litres).” Price comparison courtesy of Telegraph Money

So, in simple terms, if it takes you longer than 2 minutes to wash the pots, it’s cheaper to use a dishwasher! It also has less impact upon the environment due to the amount of water saved. 

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