How much does it cost to run a slow cooker and is it cheaper than an oven?

A slow cooker can reduce the cost of cooking – but how much does it cost to run a slow cooker? We find out

slow cooker on kitchen worktop surrounded by ingredients
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Want to know how much does it cost to run a slow cooker and how you can keep running costs as low as possible?

These are important questions to answer right now. Even with the government’s Energy Price Guarantee (opens in new tab) now in effect and the £400 energy rebate (opens in new tab) hitting bank accounts from October 2022, we’re still paying more for our energy than ever before. 

A slow cooker (or ‘crock-pot’) is a countertop electrical appliance used to simmer at a lower temperature than other cooking methods, such as baking, boiling, and frying.

This type of cooking is nothing new – it’s been around since the 1940s – but slow cookers are making a comeback. These appliances are cheap to buy – you can get one for as little as £15 or £20 (like this one from Amazon (opens in new tab)) – but does cooking food slowly mean using more or less energy? 

Energy expert at Uswitch.com, Ben Gallizzi (opens in new tab) says: “Slow cookers are much more energy efficient than ovens, and can be a cheaper way to cook stews, curries and soups. 

“For example, a 160W slow cooker used for eight hours would cost around 44p, while a 2kW oven used for an hour would cost 68p. Slow cookers also come with the added benefit of providing you with fully cooked meals that are ready after work if you get your timings right.”

 How much does it cost to run a slow cooker? 

A slow cooker will cost between 4.08p and 10.2p per hour to run.  Assuming you use the slow cooker for eight hours a day, three times a week, it would cost between £50.92 and £127.40 per year. 

The exact figure will depend on the type, specification and energy rating of your slow cooker, as well as how often you use it. You'll also need to take into account how much you pay for your electricity. 

When it comes to the cost of electricity, the price you pay per kWh of electricity changed on 1 October when the Energy Price Guarantee came into effect. For the next two years, most people will pay a maximum of 34p per kWh of electricity.  

Running costs for a small slow cooker

A small slow cooker will cost on average 4.08p per hour to run, which means 32.64p if used for eight hours. Assuming you use the slow cooker three times a week, every week, it would cost £50.92 a year to run.

This is based on a 1.5 to 3.5 litre slow cooker at 120W using an average 0.12kWh of electricity an hour. 

Running costs for a medium slow cooker

A medium-sized slow cooker would have average running costs of 7.48p per hour, 59.84p per day or £93.60 per year. This assumes that a 3.5 to 5 litre slow cooker at 220W uses an average 0.22kWh of electricity an hour. 

Running costs for a large slow cooker

A large 5 litre slow cooker will have running costs of around 10.2p per hour, 81.6p per day or, if used three times per week, £127.40 per year. 

This assumes that a  5 litre slow cooker at 300W uses an average 0.3kWh of electricity an hour.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Per use (8 hours)Per week (used 3x)Per year (3 x per week)
Small32.64p97.92p£50.92
Medium59.84p£1.80£93.60
Large81.6p£2.45£127.40

To find out how much your specific slow cooker costs to run per hour, per use or per year, you just need to do some quick sums.

Electrical appliances all come with a wattage. Slow cookers can be anything from 120 to 300W. You need to divide the wattage by 1,000 to convert to kilowatt-hours. This is how much energy the appliance uses per hour.

Once you’ve calculated the kilowatt-hours, multiply this figure by the unit cost for electricity (34p under the government’s energy price guarantee). That will give you the running cost per hour. You can then multiple that by how many hours you use it for each day, week, month or year to get a sense of how much you're paying in energy costs. 

 Is it cheaper to use a slow cooker than an oven? 

Yes, it’s cheaper to use a slow cooker than an oven. A typical electric oven uses about 3,000W of power. At current energy prices, it costs about £1 an hour to run.

Nicola Battey (opens in new tab), director of product at home cover plan provider Hometree, says slow cookers are one of the most energy efficient ways to cook.

“Even if you have it on all day, slowly braising a beef casserole, it will use about the same amount of energy as a lightbulb, cutting your energy consumption and saving you some money in the process,” she explains, “Slow cookers have low wattage, so even cooking something for eight hours will use less energy than an oven or hob.”

As well as slow cookers, air fryers and microwaves will also save you money compared to using an oven. 

Household appliance running costs Oct 2022

(Image credit: Future)

Find out how much your other smaller household appliances cost to run:

And your larger appliances: 

 Is it cheaper to use a slow cooker than an electric hob? 

Whether a slow cooker is cheaper than an electric hob depends on how long you are cooking your food for – it often works out at a similar cost.

A typical hob uses about 1500W – so will cost about 51p an hour to run. A medium slow cooker costs about 60p for eight hours so it’s more expensive than an electric hob. But if you only use the slow cooker for six hours it would cost about 45p – so cheaper than the hob.

But, depending on the size of your slow cooker, you might find it easier to batch cook with a slow cooker which can help reduce your outgoings by lowering your food bill and reducing wastage. Check out these slow cooker recipes (opens in new tab) for some inspiration. 

 How to cut the cost of running a slow cooker 

The best way to reduce the running costs of your slow cooker is to use it less often. For example, you could batch cook large quantities of food rather than cooking one meal at a time. 

If you live alone or as a couple, a small slow cooker will be more economical than a bigger one – it will be cheaper to both buy and run.

Slow cookers are better at cooking cheaper cuts of meat than an oven – as those that are tough or fatty won’t dry out – so you can reduce your grocery bill too.

Kevin Mountford (opens in new tab), consumer savings expert and co-founder of Raisin UK, said: “One of the key ways to save with your slow cooker is to remember to turn it off at the wall and unplug the appliance after use, as leaving it on standby will continue to use some energy.” 

 What to look for when buying a slow cooker 

If you're looking to buy a slow cooker, check out the tips below to help you make the right choice. Alternatively, check out our guide to the best slow cookers (opens in new tab).

Choose the right size

Small slow cookers are perfect for solo dwellers or couples; a medium slow cooker is perfect for two to four people, while you’ll need a large slow cooker for groups of more than four. The smaller your slow cooker, the cheaper it will be to run. 

See what settings it offers

The most basic slow cookers have low, medium and high settings. More advanced models have more options, including ‘keep warm’. Some also have ‘auto cook’ which means the machine starts on high and then drops down to low power for the rest of the cooking time. 

Does it have a timer?

A timer can be useful if you’re going to be out for longer than it takes your food to cook – at the end of the cooking time, the cooker will either turn itself off or switch to keep warm. 

Slow cookers are also great appliances to use with a smart plug (opens in new tab), so you can turn it on while you are out and have dinner ready by the time you return home. 

Carefully consider the material

Ceramic and stoneware pots are heavier than aluminium ones – bear this in mind if you might struggle to move a pot full of food around. Pots with a non-stick coating will be easier to clean.