Save money using your electrical appliances

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

If you want to use less electricity and save money on your bill, it’s important to know how much your electrical appliances cost to run. You can save money by:

  • finding ways to use them less

  • changing the settings to save electricity

  • checking if your electricity is cheaper at different times of the day - for example, at night

Don't stop using essential appliances

It's important to look after your physical and mental health. You should:

  • keep your fridge freezer on to keep food fresh - and for any medication you need to keep cold

  • keep the room you’re in well lit so you can move around safely and reduce the risk of mental health conditions like depression

  • keep your home warm enough so there’s less risk of your home becoming damp and you getting ill

Check the average cost of using your appliances

Electrical appliances that get hot are usually the most expensive to use - for example, the appliances you use to:

  • heat your home and your water

  • wash and dry things

  • cook food

Appliance Average cost to run
Appliance

Electric shower

Average cost to run

£2.25 an hour - or 38p for 10 minutes

Appliance

Kettle

Average cost to run

75p an hour - or 3p for 2 minutes

Appliance

Immersion heater

Average cost to run

75p an hour

Appliance

Hairdryer

Average cost to run

50p an hour - or 8p for 10 minutes

Appliance

Oven (fan)

Average cost to run

28p for 20 minutes of preheating and 40 minutes of cooking at 180 degrees Celsius

Appliance

Oven (no fan)

Average cost to run

24p for 20 minutes of preheating and 40 minutes of cooking at 200 degrees Celsius

Appliances that only produce light or sound are usually less expensive - for example, entertainment devices or computers.

Appliance Average cost to run
Appliance

Games console

Average cost to run

3p an hour

Appliance

TV with an LCD screen

Average cost to run

3p an hour

Appliance

Laptop on charge

Average cost to run

1p an hour

Appliance

TV box - for example, a Sky or Virgin box

Average cost to run

1p an hour

Appliance

Broadband router

Average cost to run

6p a week

Appliance

Mobile phone on charge

Average cost to run

1p for 4 hours

How we’ve estimated the cost of using appliances

We've based the cost of using appliances on a ‘unit rate’ of 25p. The unit rate is the price you pay per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity you use. The unit rate for your household might be higher or lower. Check your energy bill if you’re not sure.

We've based the energy usage for most appliances on:

  • how fast the appliance uses electricity - known as the 'power rating'

  • the typical amount of time people use the appliance

It’s harder to work out exact costs for some appliances. For example, fridges, freezers, ovens, washing machines and tumble dryers use electricity at different rates during their cycle. The estimated costs take this into account.

You can use our appliances tool to compare the average cost of using different electrical appliances.

Save money using your appliances

There are things you can do to reduce the amount of electricity your appliances use and save money on your bill.

Washing machine

You can save money by:

  • using an ‘economy’ cycle for general laundry - these are sometimes called ‘Eco 40-60’ or ‘Eco cotton'

  • using a ‘quick wash’ setting for things that aren’t very dirty

  • pre-soaking things that are very dirty using detergent in the sink - this means they’ll need less time in the washing machine

  • waiting until you have enough for a full load before doing a wash

Kettle

Only boil the water you need - the more water there is in your kettle, the longer it will take to boil.

Use a mug to measure the exact amount or check the fill line on your kettle, if it has one.

Kettles can use a lot of electricity, so you’ll save money by not boiling more water than you need.

Compare average annual costs

A typical power rating for a kettle is kettle 3000W.

A 3000W kettle that takes:

  • 2 minutes to boil costs 3p on average - if you boiled it 4 times a day for a year, it would cost around £44

  • 3 minutes to boil costs 5p on average - if you boiled it 4 times a day for a year, it would cost around £59

Ovens and other cooking appliances

If you cook food in an oven, you can save money by:

  • keeping the oven door closed as much as possible while something’s cooking

  • defrosting frozen food in the fridge before you cook it - this will reduce the cooking time

  • cooking more food at the same time - you can keep leftover food in the fridge or freezer and reheat it later if it’s safe to reheat

If you cook food on a hob, you can save money by:

  • using a kettle to boil the amount of water you need then pouring it into the pan, instead of using the hob to boil water

  • putting lids on pans while you’re cooking

  • using the right size pan for the amount of food

  • using the right size hob ring for the pan

Compare the cost of different cooking appliances

You might be able to save money by using different appliances when you’re cooking.

For example, cooking food in an air fryer, microwave or slow cooker is often cheaper than using an oven or hob to cook the same food. However you might need to change how long you cook the food.

Cooking appliance Average cost
Cooking appliance

Oven (fan)

Average cost

28p for 20 minutes of preheating and 40 mins of cooking at 180 degrees Celsius

Cooking appliance

Oven (no fan)

Average cost

24p for 20 minutes of preheating and 40 mins of cooking at 200 degrees Celsius

Cooking appliance

Hob

Average cost

25p for 10 minutes on high heat

Cooking appliance

Air fryer

Average cost

12p for 5 minutes of preheating and 32 minutes of cooking at 180 degrees Celsius

Cooking appliance

Microwave

Average cost

4p for 10 minutes on high heat

Cooking appliance

Slow cooker

Average cost

20p for 4 hours on high heat or 8 hours on low heat

Your appliance might cost more or less to run. The actual cost can also depend on things like the amount or type of food you’re cooking.

Dishwasher

You can save money by:

  • only running your dishwasher when it’s full

  • using the ‘eco’ or energy-saving setting - this usually takes longer but uses less electricity

  • checking if your dishwasher has an air-dry setting - this normally uses less electricity than a heat-dry setting

Tumble dryer

You can save money by:

  • using an ‘auto dry’ setting if your dryer has one - this finishes the cycle when it senses your clothes are dry

  • not overfilling your dryer - your clothes will take longer to dry if there isn’t enough space for air to move around

  • drying similar fabrics together - this means everything is more likely to dry at the same time

  • cleaning your tumble dryer’s filters regularly - if they’re blocked, it might use more electricity to run or your clothes might not dry properly

If you don’t have many clothes to dry, you should consider air drying them. You could air dry them:

  • inside on a drying rack in a well-ventilated room

  • outside on a washing line or drying rack if the ground is dry

Another option is a heated clothes airer. A typical power rating for a heated clothes airer is 250w - this means it would cost about 6p an hour to run. It would be much cheaper than a tumble dryer.

Compare the cost of different ways to dry clothes

Drying method Average cost
Drying method

Air drying

Average cost

Free

Drying method

Heated clothes airer

Average cost

6p an hour

Drying method

Condenser tumble dryer

Average cost

£1.25 per cycle

Immersion heater

Immersion heaters use electricity to heat your water. They heat water in a tank - sometimes known as a ‘hot water cylinder’.

You might have a hot water cylinder that either:

  • only ever heats water with an immersion heater - usually if your home is also heated by electric heaters

  • heats water with hot water from a boiler, but also has an immersion heater in case you run out of hot water from the boiler

It can be very expensive to use an immersion heater.

You should:

  • set your timer to come on for 1 or 2 hours before you need it - for example, when you usually take a shower

  • set your timer to come on during off-peak times if you have a time-of-use tariff

  • make sure your hot water cylinder is well insulated - find out about insulating your cylinder on the Energy Saving Trust website

  • try to avoid using the boost function - this often works out to be more expensive

Electric shower

Electric showers are one of the most expensive electrical appliances to use.

Reducing the amount of time you use an electric shower by a small amount can help you save money. For example, using an electric shower for:

  • 10 minutes a day costs around £137 a year on average

  • 5 minutes a day costs around £68 a year on average

Check the cost of using light bulbs

The most energy efficient bulbs are light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs are another type of energy efficient bulb.

Halogen bulbs and incandescent bulbs are older types of bulb that are more expensive to use. You often find halogen bulbs used as spotlights in kitchens. 

If you used a light for 3 hours a day:

  • an LED bulb would cost around £2 a year

  • a CFL bulb would cost around £4 a year

  • a halogen bulb would cost around £11 a year

  • an incandescent bulb would cost around £16 a year

LED bulbs are the most expensive to buy, but they last much longer than other types of bulb. For example, an LED bulb can last over 10 years, but a halogen bulb lasts around 2 years.

Unplugging appliances instead of using standby

Standby costs make up only a small amount of a household's electricity bill. 

How much it costs to leave your appliances or devices on standby depends on how many you have and how efficient they are. A typical UK household spends around £65 a year on standby costs - just over £5 a month.

It’s a good idea to start by unplugging any appliance or device you’re not using. But it’s important to think about which devices you might want to leave on - for example:

  • a set-top TV box that records TV programmes

  • your wifi router - so it can receive security updates and keep other devices connected to the internet

  • your fridge freezer to keep food fresh - and for any medication you need to keep cold

Check if it’s cheaper to use your appliances at different times

Your appliances will only be cheaper to use at different times if you’re on a ‘time-of-use’ tariff like Economy 7.

Time-of-use tariffs charge you different prices for electricity at different times - with cheaper electricity during ‘off peak’ hours. 

For example, Economy 7 charges you: 

  • a cheaper price for electricity 7 hours a day - usually from midnight to 7am

  • an above average price for the rest of the day

You can find out if you’re on a time-of-use tariff by checking your bill. If you’re on a time-of-use tariff, you’ll see total charges for more than one electricity price.

Don’t run appliances like washing machines while you’re asleep - this is a fire risk. You can use a timer to set them to come on in the morning when you’re getting up, before the off-peak price of electricity ends.

Buy a more energy efficient appliance

If you're thinking about buying a new appliance, you might want to choose a more energy efficient one. This means they use less energy and cost less to run.

You can check if you can save money by buying a more energy efficient appliance.

Get accurate costs for using your appliances

You can use an energy monitor to get a more accurate measure of how much your appliances cost to use.

There are energy monitors that can measure: 

  • how much electricity your whole home is using

  • how much electricity a single appliance is using

Using an energy monitor for your whole home

If you have a smart meter, you’ll usually have an in-home display that shows how much electricity you’re currently using. 

If you don’t have a smart meter, you can get an energy monitor that clips to your electricity meter. You can then see how much electricity you’re using on a separate screen or smartphone app.

By checking how much electricity your whole home is using, you can see how your usage is affected when you use certain appliances.

Find out how to use your smart meter in-home display to save energy.

Using an energy monitor for a single appliance

A plug-in energy monitor plugs into a socket, then you plug your appliance into the energy monitor. 

It shows you how much electricity the appliance is using - either on a screen on the monitor itself or through a smartphone app.

Some plug-in energy monitors let you enter the rate you pay for your electricity. This means they can show you how much the electricity is costing you.

If you need help with bills or the cost of living

If you can’t afford your energy bills, you can check our advice on what to do if you’re struggling to pay.

If you don’t have enough money to live on, you can also get help with the cost of living.

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Page last reviewed on 10 May 2023