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Oven vs Air Fryer: Which is Cheaper for Home Cooking?

Kiplinger 28/11/2022 Ben Demers
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Hikes in energy costs have ignited an interest in air fryers, but are they worth the hype? Keep your energy costs low with the guidance below.

Top-rated air fryers are rare, selling out as people jump on the cheap and healthy cooking bandwagon. 

And with high energy costs, it’s no shock that households are being convinced of the long-term value of an air fryer. 

However, if you take into account upfront purchase costs and the amount of food you want to cook plus other factors, the air fryer might not be cheaper than a conventional oven. 

Our friends at The Money Edit put the oven vs the air fryer to the test and find out which is cheaper. 

But first, consider our other articles about home energy savings, including electric heaters vs radiatorswood burning stove vs central heatingfan heaters vs oil heatersdishwasher vs hand washing, and our audit on how to save on energy bills

Oven: Cost to run

Out of most kitchen appliances including the microwave, oven and air fryer, the oven is known to be the most expensive to use. 

On average, conventional ovens use between 2,000 to 5,000 watts of energy according to Direct Energy.

But this depends on the temperature you have the oven on, as the higher the temperature, the more energy it requires to heat up the oven. 

Calculations done by EnergyBot found the following for average oven usage costs:

3000 Watt Oven Usage Cost
UsageCost
Day 3 kWh$0.30
Month91.2 kWh$9.13
Year1094 kWh$109.51

The great thing about ovens is they can take in a lot of food. With most ovens having two to three shelves, you can put a tray of lasagne on one and the garlic bread on another so it cooks at the same time. So it's worth looking at what works for your household – the quantity you’re cooking and portion sizes. A meal that you could fit in the oven all at once, with a 30-minute cooking time, might require more work in the air fryer which is smaller. 

But do be wary, heat is lost easily with an oven, so you should take that into account too. 

Yahoo Finance reports that you lose 50% of your oven heat every time you open the oven door, so the oven uses more energy to get back to its desired temperature. 

There’s also the pre-heat time to take into account, so it’s wise to know how long this takes and put your food in as soon as you can, to save energy. 

Air fryer: Cost to run

The cost of running an air fryer depends on a few factors, like how powerful it is, its capacity and how long you cook in it. 

TechRadar reports that an average air fryer with a wattage of 1500, used for 30 minutes will consume 0.75 kWh. Meanwhile, an average oven that has a wattage of 3000 will use 1.5 kWh during the same 30 minute period. 

Air fryers range from 800 watts to 2,000 watts, and the more powerful the pricier it is to run.

The purchase cost of an air fryer can vary from as low as $100 to anything around $500, according to Today. The brand you go for and how powerful it is plays a big part in the price.

Your household dynamic will make a difference. Take into account how many people you live with and cook for as well as the size of your portions. 

Although air fryers cook at a lower cost, it’s a small compartment to put food in and might require you to cook in two to three rounds, costing you double or even triple. 

Most air fryers suggest they cater for three to four people, but it is quite general and depends on what you’re cooking. Only you know how the portion sizes work in your home. 

If you want to spend more on a bigger-sized compartment or even get a dual air fryer that comes with two compartments you could benefit. However, these models are pricier and also cost more to run, as they require double the energy.

The verdict

Generally, an average air fryer is cheaper to use than an average oven. The difference is about 50% less total energy used, without even taking into account the shorter time needed to cook in an air fryer vs an oven.

But if you own an air fryer that is much more powerful, you could use nearly the same energy as an oven. 

And the main factor is the amount of food you’re cooking. If you know one compartment in an air fryer won’t suffice for your family in size, you might be better off using the oven where you can cook the food in one go, rather than in two to three different intervals. 

With air fryers, don’t forget add on the initial purchase price to your price savings comparison. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are a great time for deals that will add to the cost savings over the life of the air fryer.

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