Save money using your electrical appliances

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, 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 £2.43 an hour - or 41p for 10 minutes
Appliance Kettle Average cost to run 81p an hour - or 3p for 2 minutes
Appliance Immersion heater Average cost to run 81p an hour
Appliance Hairdryer Average cost to run 54p an hour - or 9p for 10 minutes
Appliance Oven Average cost to run 57p an hour
Appliance Air fryer Average cost to run 42p an hour
Appliance Microwave Average cost to run 27p an hour - or 5p for 10 minutes
Appliance Slow cooker Average cost to run 5p an hour

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:

  • the national average price of electricity - 27p per kilowatt-hour (kWh)

  • the typical amount of power the appliance uses - known as the 'power rating'

These costs are only an estimate - they're not accurate enough to help you calculate what your electricity bill should come to.

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

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

Compare the cost of different cooking appliances

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

Cooking appliance Average cost
Cooking appliance Oven Average cost 57p an hour
Cooking appliance Air fryer Average cost 42p an hour
Cooking appliance Microwave Average cost 5p for 10 minutes
Cooking appliance Slow cooker Average cost 5p an hour

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 be dry at the same time

  • cleaning your tumble dryer’s filters regularly - if they’re blocked, it will need to use more electricity to run

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 £148 a year on average

  • 5 minutes a day costs around £74 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 £2.50 a year

  • a CFL bulb would cost around £7.50 a year

  • a halogen bulb would cost around £12 a year

  • an incandescent bulb would cost around £18 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.

Get accurate costs for using your appliances

The actual cost of using your appliances depends on things like their size or the type of technology they use.

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.

Page last reviewed on 10 May 2023