Look out for these power-hungry appliances

By Rachel England Friday 08 May 2015

When you think of the electricity you use in your house, your first thought is probably the lights, right? But lighting accounts for only around 10-15% of your electricity bill – the rest is spent on power-hungry gadgets, gizmos and appliances. Here are the biggest offenders, plus a few tips on keeping their costs down! 

Electricity cost calculator

  • Use our electricity cost calculator. It helps you to work out how much it costs for the electricity to run various household appliances.

Washing machines and tumble dryers


Doing just two loads of washing and drying a week can cost around £100 per year (£30 washing and £70 drying). Turn up the heat, or add extra loads, and that cost goes up, up, up! Follow these top tips to lower your laundry costs:

  • 90% of the washing machines power is used to heat the water, reducing the temperature from 40oC to 30oC could cut energy consumption by 46%! Wash at 20oC and save up to 66%
  • Make sure both your washer and dryer are in good condition. They’ll do their jobs more efficiently if detergent drawers are kept clean and lint is removed regularly
  • Give clothes an extra spin before putting them in the dryer. This helps remove even more moisture, and the extra electricity used is far less than the tumble dryer would need to achieve the same effect

If you are able to dry your clothes on a clothes rack, in a well-ventilated room you can skip the using a tumble dryer at all, saving £70 per year! Just try to keep the humidity in that room by closing a door (keep them off the radiators though as they block the heat)

Also, if you have a timer, try to use your washing machine during the night, or in the middle of the day to reduce the load on supply!

Plasma TVs

Plasma TVs were excessive energy guzzlers and are on their way out! If you’re in the market for a new TV, consider an LED model instead, which will use around a third less energy than an old plasma version. But if you already own a plasma TV, follow these helpful hints to keep its running costs down:

  • It’s better to turn your TV on to standby than to leave it running, but it’s even better to turn it off completely if it’s not being used. Check outsmart extension power strips that can help make this a doddle to remember
  • Make sure the brightness of the screen isn’t set too high – factory settings are typically brighter than necessary
  • If you listen to the radio through your TV, be sure to use the radio screen blanking feature
  • If your TV boasts an energy-saving mode, use it


The way you cook your dinner has a huge impact on electricity bills. Cooking on an electric cooker (3.3kWh), for thirty minutes a day will cost a whopping £90 per year. An electric oven (3kWh) for thirty minutes a day £82. Alternatively, take the fast or slow road a microwave (1.4kWh), for speedy results, will cost about £3 per year, if used for 10 minutes a day. For those who don’t like the microwave, try a slow cooker which uses on average 0.03kWh, which costs about £14 per year, if used for eight hours every day.

  • Remember, an electric hob won’t get hotter any faster by cranking it up to the max – it’ll just create wasted energy when you have to eventually turn it down again
  • Only use the oven’s self-cleaning cycle (if you have one) on major clean-up operations. Otherwise, get in there with a bit of elbow grease


A combined fridge-freezer uses anywhere between 250 and 427 kWh per year, which costs between £40 and £65. It’s even more expensive if you own separate appliances, with stand alone fridges using an average 170 kWh per year (about £25) and chest freezers using between 170 and 360 kWh (£4). Consider replacing older models with newer, more energy efficient versions (more on energy efficiency here), but in the meantime:

  • Set your fridge to 3-4°c and your freezer to between -15°c and -18°c. Every degree lower than this uses up to 5% more energy
  • Keep freezers well-stocked to keep the cold in, but don’t overload fridges, as they have to have to work extra hard (and use more energy) to keep everything cool
  • Avoid putting warm food in the fridge – for energy and food hygiene
  • Make sure fridges and freezers are kept out of direct sunlight and away from heat-generating appliances such as ovens and tumble dryers

Electric kettles

Everyone loves a cuppa, but electric kettles are one of the biggest energy offenders, simply because they get used so often – in an average household 1,500 times a year! Boiling a 3kWh kettle, for 10 minutes day will cost over £27 per year, if you half fill the kettle, it will take half the time and only cost £13.50 a year! Try boiling just for one cup when you can.

  • The golden rule: Don’t overfill. Only boil as much water as you need
  • If you’re a bit absent-minded, consider purchasing a swish new model that will only allow you to boil as much water for the number of cups you require
  • Which? offer advice on selecting the most energy-efficient kettles – and other appliances too

Desktop computers

Compared to their portable laptop counterparts, old desktop computers are pretty energy hungry (0.12kWh compared to 0.04kWh!) costing an average of around £13 a year to run (£4 for laptops). New all-in-one models use about 0.12kWh, or £13 per year. All based on two hours use per day. Throw printers (0.5kWh) and modems (0.009kWh) into the mix and you’re using even more. 

  • Computers use about the same amount of power while they sit idle as they do when they’re working at maximum capacity, so make use of the sleep mode!
  • If you can, update your monitor to a newer, more energy efficient LCD or LED model. If not, be sure to turn your screen off whenever you’re away from your desk – doing so reduces old tube/CRT monitor energy usage by half
  • Switch off all your equipment overnight. And that means off! Not on standby. If this is too fiddly or cumbersome, consider investing in a smart extension power strip to make the job simple.


Savings calculations are based on electricity costing 15p per kWh. Every electrical appliance has a power rating which tells you how much electricity it needs to work. This is usually given in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). Of course, the amount of electricity it uses depends on how long it’s on for, and this is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).

All the facts in this article were sourced by our partner, the
Centre for Sustainable Energy. If you’d like more free impartial advice on anything from tips on energy efficiency and renewable energy to how to apply for grants and financial support just give us a call on 0800 408 6601 (mobile 0117 934 1999) to speak with an energy efficiency expert or you can email us.

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