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The costs in this article have been updated to reflect the revised energy price cap that came into effect on 1 October 2023.
Want to know how much it costs to run a slow cooker and how you can keep running costs as low as possible? It's important to find out, especially as millions of families have been worried about how much their energy bills will cost over the past year. But as of October 2023, the energy price cap will fall again (it also dropped when it was last revised in July 2023), which means your most used kitchen appliances, like a slow cooker, will be cheaper to run.
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 £20 or £30 (like this one from Amazon).
Goodto.com’s Money Editor, Sarah Handley, says: “Slow cookers have a number of benefits and are more energy efficient than ovens. They can also reduce the time it takes to prepare meals, as you simply place the ingredients in the pot and leave them to cook, making family life that bit easier.”
How much does it cost to run a slow cooker?
A slow cooker will cost between 3.2p and 8.1p per hour to run. Assuming you use the slow cooker for eight hours a day, three times a week, it would cost between £39.94 and £101.09 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 new energy price cap came into effect. This means the average price per unit of electricity fell from 30p per kilowatt hour to 27p per kilowatt hour. All of our calculations use this new unit price.
Running costs for a small slow cooker
A small slow cooker will cost on average 3.2p per hour to run, which means 25.6p if used for eight hours. Assuming you use the slow cooker three times a week, every week, it would cost £39.94 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 5.9p per hour, 47.2p per day or £73.63 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 8.1p per hour, 64.8p per day or, if used three times per week, £101.09 per year.
This assumes that a 5 litre slow cooker at 300W uses an average 0.3kWh of electricity an hour.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Per use (8 hours)||Per week (used 3x)||Per year (3 x per week)|
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 (you can find this exact figure on your latest energy bill or use the energy price cap's 27p). That will give you the running cost per hour. You can then multiply 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. That will give you the running cost per hour. You can then multiply 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 (as of 1 October), it costs about 81p an hour to run.
Creator of energy-saving mobile app HUGO, Ben Dhesi, says: “Slow cookers are a great energy-saving option compared to traditional ovens if you don’t mind waiting a bit longer for your food. While ovens consume a substantial amount of energy to reach high temperatures, slow cookers work their magic at lower temperatures over longer periods. This gentle, prolonged cooking process not only ensures tender and flavourful results but also leads to significant cost savings.”
As well as slow cookers, air fryers and microwaves will also save you money compared to using an oven.
Find out how much your other smaller household appliances cost to run:
- How much does it cost to run an air fryer?
- How much does it cost to boil a kettle?
- How much does it cost to run a microwave?
- How much does it cost to run an electric blanket?
- How much does it cost to run a heated clothes dryer?
- How much does it cost to run an indoor heater?
- How much does a dehumidifier cost to run?
- How much electricity does a TV use?
And your larger appliances:
- How much does it cost to run a washing machine?
- How much does a tumble dryer cost to run?
- How much does it cost to run a dishwasher?
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 40.5p an hour to run. A medium slow cooker costs about 47.2p 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 35.4p – 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 for some inspiration.
Use our comparison tool to compare how much your most-used appliances cost to run:
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.
Energy expert Ben Dhesi says: “When using a slow cooker, always prepare larger portions and store leftovers for future meals. This way, you maximise the efficiency of the slow cooker when you use it and save on energy.”
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.
Also make sure you unplug your slow cooker once you’ve finished using it as leaving it on standby will continue to use 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.
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.
Dan Moore at PriceYourJob.co.uk says: “The ‘low’ setting cooks in around 8 hours while the ‘high’ setting works over 4-5 hours with the ‘medium’ setting falling somewhere between these two. The size and power rating of the slow cooker will affect how much energy it uses.”
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, 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.
Energy expert Ben Dhesi adds: “I also recommend looking for those with removable, dishwasher-safe inserts as convenience is key. These inserts are made for easy cleaning, saving you time and effort and making your cooking experience more enjoyable.”