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Which appliances use the most energy?

With energy bills still high, many of us are looking to cut down our electricity use to make savings.

When it comes to which home appliances use the most electricity, there are a few common culprits. Let’s look at how much they cost to run and some practical ways to use them more efficiently.

With energy bills still high, many of us are looking to cut down our electricity use to make savings.

When it comes to which home appliances use the most electricity, there are a few common culprits. Let’s look at how much they cost to run and some practical ways to use them more efficiently.

Written by
Dan Tremain
Energy and business energy expert
Reviewed by
Rebecca Goodman
Personal finance expert
Last Updated
30 APRIL 2024
7 min read
Share article

Which appliances have the biggest impact on my energy bills?

Today’s homes are packed with electrical gadgets, and some appliances can have a big impact on energy bills.

Even those that use a relatively small amount of electricity can add a fair bit to your energy costs if they’re constantly switched on or left on standby.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average UK household spends £45 each year powering electronic devices that are left in standby mode. So a good first step in lowering your electricity bills is making sure all your devices are turned off at the socket when they’re not in use.

When you’re buying a new appliance for your home, look for one with a high EU energy label rating. A is the most energy-efficient, while G is the least.

How much do appliances cost to run?

The table below is based on the Citizens Advice energy calculator, using the average standard rate of electricity of 25p per kWh in April 2024. It shows estimated running costs for various household appliances and which use the most energy:

Appliance Average power rating Typical usage Estimated cost per day Estimated annual running costs
Tumble dryer (condenser) 2500W 4 times a week £1.22 £254
Electric hob 2000W 1 hour a day 38p £137
Fan-assisted electric oven 2100W 1 hour a day 35p £129
Washing machine 2100W 4 times a week 32p £67
Dishwasher 2000W 5 times a week 24p £62
Kettle 3000W 12 minutes a day 15p £55
TV 120W 3 hours a day 9p £33
Laptop (on charge) 50W 5 hours a day 6p £23

These are only estimates. Your appliances might cost more or less than this to run, depending on their energy rating and how often you use them.

How much energy does a tumble dryer use?

Tumble dryers offer convenience but, as you can see from the table, they’re also one of the biggest electricity guzzlers in our homes.

The Energy Saving Trust reckons that the average UK household could save £50 a year by drying clothes inside on a rack or outside in warmer weather, instead of using the tumble dryer. Here are some other tips to cut down on your tumble dryer energy costs:

  • Do an extra spin cycle when you wash your clothes to get as much moisture out as possible.
  • Untangle your clothes before putting them in the dryer to let the warm air circulate better.
  • Clean the lint filter each time you use the machine to allow the heat to circulate properly.

But a word of warning, if you’re on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff, the advice from the Fire Service is that you should never run your tumble dryer at night or while unattended.

How much energy does an electric hob/oven use?

Electric hobs tend to be more efficient at cooking than gas hobs, but the cost of electricity is higher so they can also cost more to run. And ovens with a self-cleaning function can consume more energy because they reach a high temperature to burn off grease and residue to make cleaning easier.

But there are ways to cook more efficiently to bring down the running costs of your electric hob and oven: 

  • Choose the right-sized pan for the ring, so you’re not using more heat than you need.
  • Heat up water with a kettle before pouring it into the pan. It uses far less energy than heating a large pan of water from cold. And only heat up the amount of water you need.
  • Put a lid on saucepans to heat the contents faster.
  • Once the food in the pan is boiling, reduce it to a low simmer. You can turn off the hob a minute or so before your meal is ready and it will continue to cook while the hob cools down.
  • Keep the door closed when you’re using the oven. Otherwise, heat will escape and you’ll use more energy to bring it back up to temperature.
  • Use glass or ceramic ovenproof dishes for roasting. They retain heat better than metal dishes and help cook food evenly.
  • Use alternative cooking methods, like a slow cooker or air fryer.
  • Use your microwave to reheat food – it’s more efficient than using your electric hob or the oven.

How much energy does a washing machine use?

Whether you’re freshening up bedding or cleaning muddy sports gear, a washing machine is one of the most used appliances in people’s homes. It adds to both your electricity and water bill, though, so can be expensive to run.

While a washing machine is not something you can do without, there are ways to save on your energy costs:

  • Wash only when you have enough laundry for a full load, being careful not to overload the drum as this could cause damage.
  • Wash clothes at a lower temperature: 20°C or 30°C is effective for items that aren’t heavily stained.
  • Clean your washing machine’s filter about once a month so it doesn’t get clogged up.
  • Check the pockets of clothes before putting them in your machine to prevent items getting caught in the drain pump.

How much energy does a kettle use?

Us Brits love a brew. But that indispensable kettle can add £55 a year to your energy bill if you use it for about 12 minutes a day. To keep costs down:

  • Only boil as much water as you need. A half-filled kettle will use half as much energy as a full one. According to the Energy Saving Trust, you could save £10 a year by avoiding overfilling the kettle.
  • If you’re on the lookout for a new kettle, go for an insulated model. It takes less time to boil and will keep water hot for longer.

How much energy does a dishwasher use? 

It’s convenient, but a standard-sized dishwasher typically costs between £35 and £70 a year to run, so:

  • Aim for a full load, but don’t overload it – this could prevent your dishwasher from doing its job properly. Reducing your dishwasher use by one run a week can save you £12 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
  • If you’re on an Economy 7 ‘time of use’ tariff and your dishwasher has a timer, set it to come on during off-peak hours.
  • Use your dishwasher’s ‘eco’ programme if it has one. It uses less energy by washing at a lower temperature and using less water.

How much energy does a television use?

Your TV is probably one of the devices that uses the least electricity in your home, although this depends on how much you use it. And the bigger the TV, the more energy it will use. Your TV is also one of the appliances most likely to be left in standby mode when you’re not using it.

So to help curb high energy costs:

  • Set the backlight on your TV to minimum and adjust the brightness settings, as these features can drain electricity. Plasma TVs use more energy than LCD screens.
  • Turn off the TV when you’re not using it instead of leaving it on standby. Do the same for any set top boxes and games consoles you have connected. Some TV recorders may need to be left on so they can still record programmes.
  • Set your TV to ‘eco-mode’ if it has this feature.

How much energy does a laptop use?

With many of us now working from home at least part of the week, our laptops need to be on charge much of the time.

Although laptops typically use 85% less electricity over a year than desktop PCs, there are ways to save even more energy:

  • Lower the brightness, but not so much that you strain your eyes.
  • Put your laptop into sleep mode during breaks.
  • Avoid leaving your laptop on the bed as this may cause the fan to come on due to lack of ventilation. Keep it on a desk or table instead.
  • Unplug your device when it’s finished charging so it doesn’t keep draining power.

How much energy does a fridge freezer use?

Your fridge freezer needs to stay on all the time, and accounts for around 13% of a typical household’s energy bill. But there are ways to maximise its efficiency:

  • Your fridge temperature should be below 8°C, according to the Food Standards Agency. Your freezer should ideally be -18°C.

  • Your fridge is at its most efficient when it’s three-quarters full, so leave space to allow the air to circulate.

  • Make sure there’s a 10cm gap behind your fridge freezer to allow the warm air to flow out. And defrost your freezer regularly to help it work efficiently.
  • Check the door seals are airtight and replace them if they’re worn.
  • Vacuum the back of the fridge every now and then to prevent dust from building up around the condenser coils. This could improve energy efficiency by 25%.
  • Don’t position your fridge in direct sunlight or near other heat sources, for example next to the cooker, as this could mean it has to work harder to stay cold.
Author image Dan Tremain

What our expert says...

“Electric hobs tend to be more efficient at cooking than gas hobs, but the cost of electricity is higher so they can also cost more to run. Slow cookers are a very energy efficient way of cooking – and preparing food in larger batches helps to cut energy use, as well as time spent in the kitchen.”

- Dan Tremain, Energy and business energy expert

More energy-saving tips

  • Consider getting a smart meter. This will let you monitor exactly how much energy you use, so you can adapt your habits.
  • Educate your household in the importance of saving electricity. If you have children, you could even turn it into a game to encourage them to switch things off when they’re not in use.
  • Compare electricity tariffs to see if you could bring down the cost of your energy bill.
Read more energy saving tips
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