Explainer: Which appliances cost the most to run?

By Jeremy Williams

As price rises drive people to look for ways to save energy, there is suddenly a wealth of well-presented information about energy use in the home. One of my favourites that I’ve seen recently is this chart from Bloomberg, which details the price of a variety of household appliances. It shows how much it costs to use them, ranked according to how long you will use them.

As I regularly tell people in workshops on home energy, heating is the killer. They’ve assumed six hours of heating here, so insulation to reduce that is going to be a good saving.

There are also a handful of other potential savings on that list. If you can cook less with the hob or the oven, and more with the microwave, that will definitely add up. You could boil the kettle and wash up the old-fashioned way, and let the £1 saving motivate you. Hanging the laundry on the line is even better, and I spy a great excuse not to do any ironing.

The most frequently heard advice on energy saving is to switch off lights when you leave a room – which is great, but is only going to save pennies.

It’s interesting to see these sorts of graphics doing the rounds because we are currently getting a crash course in energy literacy. People who have attempted to get to grips with their carbon footprints may know a lot of this already, but as I mentioned last week with cooking, energy has been cheap enough that energy efficiency isn’t common knowledge. Just as the 1970s energy crises led to much greater awareness, this year might also boost energy saving up the agenda. Action is mainly motivated by saving money of course, but there could be carbon saving too if we all develop some energy-saving habits.

There are also opportunities here to help households in a way that locks in long-term savings. If governments freeze bills, they’re simply underwriting current energy use patterns with taxpayer funds – which may be necessary in a crisis situation, I should add. But if you directed support towards efficiency, you would roll those savings on beyond the current emergency. Insulation would reduce bills and emissions in perpetuity. Discounted low-energy appliances might help. Could we imagine some kind of scrappage scheme for old and inefficient fridges? (I see that Greece is doing it.) It feels like a time for imaginative solutions.

First published in The Earthbound Report.

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