Home appliance running costs for consumers have increased by 58 per cent over the last 18 months, Which? research has found, showing the immense strain UK household budgets have faced during the cost of living crisis.
The consumer champion used some of the most popular sizes and types of appliances, including a washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher, fridge freezer, TV and oven and calculated running costs for a year using the different electricity rates for a standard variable tariff between October 2021 and April 2023.
Which? found running costs have risen from £283 to £447 over that period, an increase of £164 a year for someone using a ‘medium’ amount of energy.
The research follows the end of the government’s £400 energy discount on 1 April, which had given each household a monthly £67 top-up to help with their energy bills. Which? is sharing the results of its lab tests alongside advice to help people save money and use appliances more efficiently.
1. Washing machines
The average annual cost of running a washing machine with a 9kg capacity increased from £49 in October 2021 to £77.47 in April 2023.
The capacity of a washing machine plays a big role in the cost of running it. Too small could result in paying extra to run more loads while too big may result in inefficient half-loads. It’s better to wait until you can fill the machine to about 80 per cent full.
Washing clothes at 30°C is generally fine for clothes that aren’t very dirty and will cut energy use by 38 per cent on average compared to a 40°C wash, and a 20°C wash will use 62 per cent less energy.
2. Heat pump tumble dryers
In October 2021 the average cost of running a heat pump tumble dryer, with a capacity of 9kg, was £43.95, which has now risen to £69.49.
While heat pump tumble dryers can cost more upfront, they cost less to run, so can be cheaper than condenser dryers over their lifespan. Which? found that a condenser tumble dryer costing £210 to buy and £217 per year in electricity costs, might amount to £4,500 over its 20-year lifespan. While a heat pump dryer that costs £589 to buy, but only £38 per year in electricity, is around £1,350 over the same time period.
To use your dryer more efficiently, separate clothes by fabric type – as different fabrics take different lengths of time to dry. Be sure to empty the filter after each use as built-up fluff makes the dryer work harder.
Dishwashers cost on average £60 to run in October 2021, now they are one of the more expensive appliances to run at £94.86 per year.
Which? experts recommend checking what size will best suit your home before buying a new dishwasher. Full-size models cost more to run than compact (£60 per year) and slimline (£88.09 per year) versions.
Using a dishwasher’s energy-saving or eco program will take longer but uses around 30 per cent less energy. Try to run your dishwasher full rather than doing more frequent half-loads. Ensure you’re not over or under-filling the dishwasher. It helps to arrange items properly to allow water and detergent to circulate around them and check you’re using the right dishwasher program for how dirty they are.
4. Built-in ovens
Built-in ovens don’t cost as much to run as other key appliances, but it still pays to use them efficiently. On average, a built-in single electric oven costs £77.02 per year to run, which has risen from £48.71 in October 2021.
You can reduce costs by cooking in bulk – cook larger amounts of food at a time, and eat them as meals spread across the week, rather than running the oven every day. Defrost frozen food in advance in the fridge, so that your oven isn’t having to work harder for longer to get it to the point that it’s ready to be cooked.
Smaller appliances, such as air fryers or combi microwaves, might be more efficient than ovens for cooking small items. For example, it costs 18p to roast a chicken in an air fryer, compared with 38p in a built-in electric oven.
The average integrated fridge freezer currently costs £139.90 to run, having risen from £62.19 in October 2021. Freestanding and American models cost £165.36 and £211.84 respectively to run, which has increased from £48.17 and £103.07 a year from October 2021.
To ensure your fridge freezer is running as efficiently as possible, clean the condenser coils on the back, as dust on the coils can prevent the fridge from cooling properly. Replace damaged door seals to ensure cold air cannot escape and be wasted and let food cool down completely before refrigerating.
A TV is one of the cheaper appliances to run, with a 40-43 inch model costing £30.15 per year now compared to £19.07 in October 2021. The larger they are, the more TVs cost to run. But even the biggest TVs Which? has tested cost a lot less to run, on average, than larger laundry or kitchen appliances.
Emily Seymour, Which? Energy Editor, said:
“Our research shows running costs for common household appliances have risen by a huge amount – putting yet another dent in household finances when so many are feeling the pressures of the cost of living crisis.
“The good news is that there are things you can do to cut back on energy costs linked to these appliances and applying some or all of these tips could make a difference to your bills.”
Notes to editors:
- Over the coming months, Which? is highlighting free and useful money-saving advice every Monday to help consumers manage the ongoing cost of living crisis.
- To calculate running costs, Which? looked at some of the most popular sizes and types of appliances, including a washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher, fridge freezer, TV and oven.
|Typical home appliance||October 2021||April 2022||October 2022||April 2023|
|Heat pump tumble dryer||£43.95||£58.60||£71.16||£69.49|
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