Best appliances to save cash when cooking | Energy bills

Bharada Jembul

Households facing huge energy bill increases have been told they could save up to £600 a year by switching to more efficient cooking methods.

Gas and electricity bills are expected to soar in October, meaning many Britons are looking at whatever they can do to reduce their energy use.

Research by the energy firm Utilita found that ditching an electric cooker in favour of options such as air fryers and slow cookers could help families save money during the cost of living crisis.

This week, chef Jamie Oliver launched One-Pan Wonders on Channel 4, with all the recipes cooked in one pot saving on energy, and on the hot water for washing up.

Other tweaks include batch cooking, using the right-sized pan with a lid, simmering rather than boiling, and avoiding overfilling the kettle.

Using more efficient appliances could typically save households £287 a year, according to the research, which was published as part of a new campaign with the budget supermarket Iceland

Best appliances to save cash when cooking | Energy bills
Avoid overfilling the kettle. Photograph: Simon Dack/Alamy

It typically costs 87p a day to run an electric cooker – amounting to £26.38 a month, or £316 a year – making it the most expensive of the cooking methods tested, according to the researchers.

Dual cookers typically clock up a daily cost of 72p, or £264 annually, and a gas cooker costs 33p a day to run. That adds up to £120 over 12 months.

Slow cookers cost 16p a day – £59 annually – to run, while air fryers typically add 14p a day to people’s energy bills, or £52 a year.

A microwave was found to be the cheapest option, costing only 8p a day to use, or £30 annually.

The research was based on cookers being used for 43 minutes a day on average, and all the other appliances being used for 20 minutes.

According to the study, batch cooking, where possible, could save £158 over a year, while using the right-sized pan with a lid would save £72, and simmering rather than boiling could reduce annual bills by £68. Meanwhile, filling the kettle with the right amount of water could lop £19 off annual energy costs.

In total, the cost saving could reach a total of £604, based on the Cornwall Insight price cap forecast for October 2022.

The actual amount you might save will depend on a whole load of variables including the efficiency of your appliances, how long you spend cooking and your tariff.

As part of the campaign, which will officially launch in September, Utilita and Iceland say they will run thousands of free workshops on how families can reduce their energy bills, after a survey found that 52% of households do not know which of their appliances cost more to run.

Archie Lasseter, Utilita’s sustainability expert, says: “We know that consumers need to know in pounds and pence what their actions will save them, and we know that every household budgets differently.”

However, experts have warned that energy-saving tips are not enough to shield households from huge price rises, and more government help is urgently needed.

A woman uses an air fryer
Air fryers typically cost £52 a year to run. Photograph: Plan Shooting 2/Imazins/Getty Images/ImaZinS RF

Ben Gallizzi, an energy expert at Uswitch, says: “Consumers can save energy while cooking depending on the method they pick. For instance, microwaves, slow cookers and air fryers all tend to be cheaper ways of cooking meals than using an oven.

“While cooking more efficiently will help reduce the amount of energy that consumers use, the money they save as a result will only go so far.

“More government assistance will be needed to help customers with energy bills over the coming winter.”

There is already some financial support available for those who are struggling to pay their energy bills.

Many suppliers have hardship funds to help people who cannot afford their bills or have fallen into arrears, and vulnerable customers can sign up to the so-called priority services register.

Rules set by Ofgem, the energy regulator for Great Britain, mean suppliers must offer affordable payment plans, and prepayment meter customers can ask for emergency credit if they cannot top up.

Meanwhile, all households in Great Britain with a domestic electricity connection are eligible for the government’s £400 energy bill support scheme, which will be paid in six monthly instalments from October. Further funding will be available to provide equivalent support of £400 for energy bills for the 1% of households who will not be reached through the Energy Bills discount.

Microwave oven, England UK
Ben Gallizzi of Uswitch says microwaves, slow cookers and air fryers ‘all tend to be cheaper ways of cooking meals than using an oven’.
Photograph: Alex Segre/Alamy

About 8 million people on means-tested benefits are entitled to a £650 payment, with the first instalment given last month and the second to be paid in the autumn.

Pensioners who receive the winter fuel payment will also get a one-off £300 payment in November, and there is a £150 cost of living payment for about 6 million people who claim certain disability benefits, due to be paid in September.

Households should also check they are getting all the support they are eligible for using a free online benefits calculator, such as the ones provided by Turn2us, entitledto and Policy in Practice.

This article was amended on 31 August 2022 to clarify the eligibility for the government’s £400 energy bill support scheme and add details of the equivalent support available for ineligible households.

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