Are air fryers cheap to run? Here’s what you need to know

They’re touted as the must-have money saving appliance, but how much money can an air fryer actually save you? We quiz the experts to find out.

With more than nine in 10 people saying that the cost of living is the most important issue facing them today, it’s no surprise air fryers have become a popular addition to many kitchens.

The best air fryers are generally considered to be energy-efficient appliances, using less energy than traditional ovens or deep fryers, which has seen people snap them up in order to save cash.

But do they really save you money? There’s no doubt they’re cheap to run, but factors such as wattage, what you’re cooking and for how long will impact on the cost – and sometimes, the oven will still be a cheaper option.

Mature lady using an air fryer in a kitchenCredit: Excetptional

How economical are air fryers?

It all depends on the machine

“Air fryers are generally cheaper to use, and this mainly comes down to their size and the fact that they tend to have much quicker cooking times in comparison to ovens,” says Jennifer Warren, from Energy Guide.

She continues: “Ovens typically have a much larger surface area and so take much longer to heat up, so even though gas is cheaper than electricity, it can still work out more economical to use the air fryer in many cases.”

The exact energy consumption of an air fryer will depend on factors such as the model, size and cooking time.

And as Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis recently revealed on The Martin Lewis Podcast, while air fryers can be cheaper to use than an oven, if you have a higher wattage model, that won’t always be the case.

He said: “If you own an air fryer that is a lot more powerful, you could be using near enough the same energy as an oven. For example, the 2,000W air fryer costs 34p per use, that’s 13p more than an oven.”

His advice? If you’re cooking something small that doesn’t take much time, use the air fryer or microwave, otherwise go for the oven.

How to work out how much energy you’re using

A smart meter really helps

As there are many variables to consider when working out how much an air fryer costs to use, Warren says it’s best that you verify exactly how much energy your appliance is consuming .

“Homeowners can check their smart meters to see exactly how much energy their air fryer is using,” she says.

“It’s a good idea to then compare this with other cooking methods, for example, the microwave, as well as the oven, to see which is cheapest in their circumstances.”

Smart meter in home display within a living room with person pressing the buttonsCredit: Shutterstock/Nick Beer

If you don’t have a smart meter, you can still get a rough estimate of how much your air fryer is costing by using an energy calculator. You’ll need to know the wattage of your air fryer as well as how much time you’ll be cooking your item for.

Bear in mind that many online energy calculators reference energy prices from October, and, under the Energy Price Guarantee, the average price of electricity in Great Britain has actually gone down slightly since the end of last year.

Alternatively, you can work out how many kWh (kilowatt hour) of electricity your appliance uses with this calculation.

  • Get the wattage of your machine, e.g. 1,750W (or 1.75kW)
  • Work out how long you need to run it for, e.g. 15 minutes
  • If you’re cooking something for less than an hour, divide the kW by the length of time, e.g. 1.75kW divided by four (a quarter of an hour)
  • Then times this by the current electricity price by hour, which is currently an average of 33.2p = 14.5p

If you are going to be cooking something for longer than an hour, the calculation changes slightly.

  • Get the wattage of your machine, e.g. 1,750W (or 1.75kW)
  • Work out how long you need to run it for, e.g. 1 and a half hours
  • Multiply the kW by the length of time, e.g. 1.75kW times by 1.5
  • Then times this by the current electricity price by hour, which is currently an average of 33.2p = 87.15p
French fries cooked in air fryer to illustrate air fryer potaotesCredit: Shutterstock/Yulia Furman

For example, the Ninja Air Fryer Max AF160UK has a wattage of 1,750W. Using the energy calculator or the above calculation, you can work out how much it will cost to cook oven chips in the air fryer. These take 15 minutes, so this would work out at about 15p.

Compare this to a traditional electric oven, of around 2,000W, and you’re looking at around 50p for a cooking time of 45 minutes (this includes the pre-heating cooking time of ten minutes).

Gas ovens work out cheaper than both air fryers and electric ovens, coming in at 12p for a cooking time of 45 minutes.

“Ovens are generally bigger than other cooking appliances, meaning they require more energy to heat up than smaller appliances such as air fryers,” explains Joanna O’Loan, knowledge manager at Energy Saving Trust.

“If you have a gas oven, this doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the more expensive cooking appliance to run because at the moment gas is a cheaper fuel than electricity (at current Energy Price Guarantee tariff prices it’s around 10.3p/kWh for gas and 33.2p/kWh for electricity).

“While your gas oven might use more energy, you’re charged less for this energy than the energy you use when cooking with electric appliances.”

Remember though that gas ovens do produce more direct carbon emissions than an electric air fryer.

If you’re preparing smaller quantities of food – e.g. for one or two people – you might want to consider using an air fryer instead in order to reduce your carbon footprint.

Expert energy saving tip

The Energy Saving Trust recommends that whatever appliance you use, avoid opening the door any more than necessary while it’s on. This keeps in hot air and reduces wasted energy.

When not to use an air fryer

Sometimes the oven will be cheaper

Don’t always assume your air fryer is the most economical option. As Warren explains, it all depends on the quantity of food you’re cooking.

“If your air fryer isn’t large enough to cook the portion you need for your family meal, you might be better off using the oven, where you can cook everything at once, rather than in two-to-three different intervals,” she says.

“Cooking the same thing twice in an 800W air fryer could cost you more than 26p, which is more expensive than using the oven.”

The large size of an oven not only makes it a better option when cooking for large groups, but also if you want to batch cook, you can cook numerous meals at once, making it good value for money.

What do other appliances cost to run?

The Energy Saving Trust has worked out the running costs for different appliances. Coming in at the cheapest, the hob costs about 1 to 2p for a quick meal, making it super cost-efficient.

“Using the hob is typically quite cheap, as generally you won’t need to have a hob on for very long to prepare meals, such as pasta or an omelette,” says O’Loan.

“Using a gas hob does produce more direct carbon emissions than an electric hob, so if you’re just using it to reheat a meal you might want to consider using a microwave instead to reduce your carbon footprint.”

Just remember to cover your saucepan lids to keep heat in and reduce any energy wastage.

Weighing up whether to get an air fryer or slow cooker? An average slow cooker with a 1,400 wattage works out at about 26p over the course of five and a half hours’ cooking time on low.

“To save energy, try to avoid leaving them on longer than necessary or use ‘low’ setting if you’ll be out for longer,” advises O’Loan.

They’re great if you have a busy schedule, though, and a big family to feed, as you can fit a lot of food into a slow cooker.

The typical cost per use works out around 4p, making it a super cost-efficient cooking appliance. Great for reheating and cooking food, it won’t, however, give you that crispy finish that the air fryer does so well.

How to make your air fryer more cost-effective

Choose the model for your lifestyle

When it comes to choosing an air fryer that is cost-effective to run, there are a few things to consider, starting with the capacity.

“It’s important to use an air fryer that has enough capacity to cook the volume of food you will need to cook,” says Warren.

“Otherwise, you may end up using the air fryer for even longer than you would your oven, in which case, you will likely make no savings at all, or even worse, end up using more energy.”

Buying an air fryer like this Ninja AF400UK that is sat on a kitchen countertop is great for creating fast and healthy dinnersCredit: Ninja

If you’re cooking for more than two, choose an air fryer such as the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer AF300UK that comes with two baskets, enabling you to cook double the portions.

Air fryers such as the Instant Vortex Plus with ClearCook feature a window that stops you from opening the drawer more than is necessary, which lets out heat, wastes energy and can end up costing you more.

Conclusion

The air fryer can save you money – sometimes

So, are air fryers cheap to run? Warren says that even though air fryers are super-versatile, they are better used as an occasional appliance, rather than your go-to.

“To save money on your energy bill, consider using your air fryer for smaller meals or snacks instead of relying on it for all of your cooking needs,” she says.

Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her

Updated:

Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 24 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars. A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

  • twitter
  • linkedin
  • Email