True Costs of Cooking with Electricity in 2022

Cost of cooking
Which changes are worth making to your cooking habits to save money? The idea of this blog is to provide some information or data points in terms of electric energy usage for the most common tasks such as cooking, washing and heating.

Increased energy costs

The perfect storm of events covid, supply chain constraints and the war in Ukraine have conspired to drive up prices for everyday essentials and particularly energy, both gas and electric. Thankfully in the UK the government has felt it necessary to provide support through subsidies and grants which have cushioned the impact on us somewhat. I fear that without this direct financial support, we could genuinely have experienced hardships not seen since the end of the last world war.

Cost of living crisis

So the “cost of living crisis” has put significant financial pressures on UK citizens and, as is often the case, the hardest hit are those folk with the lowest incomes and the least in the way of wiggle room in their weekly or monthly finances. I do feel, however, that the media haven’t helped, they constantly run stories of hardship looking for sensational headlines – particularly if they manage to find someone who states they now can’t afford to boil the kettle or make a piece of toast! I feel this is often ill-informed and even disingenuous, their coverage misses the point and can potentially scare the most vulnerable unnecessarily. The idea of this blog is to provide some information or data points in terms of electric energy usage for the most common tasks such as cooking, washing and heating.

Electricity cost increase 2022

It’s worth starting out by looking at the increase in electric charges over the last year. The average homeowner in 2021 was paying around 15p per kWh for their electricity, with a standing charge of around 25p a day. On 1st October 2022, the government price cap kicked in with a maximum cost per kWh of 34p and a maximum daily charge of 46p – as an FYI these rates don’t apply if you are on any kind of time-of-day tariff, such as those offered by Octopus Energy and others… So as a broad brush statement, electrical energy for your home has doubled in cost over the last year – so if you were paying out say £100/month last winter, you could expect your usage to be a bit over £200/moth in the winter of 22/23 assuming of course your usage is similar.

Scared of cooking due to costs?

For me, the idea that because of energy costs, a vulnerable person, such as an old age pensioner, feels fearful or constrained when it comes to cooking is disturbing – there really shouldn’t be any scenarios where someone can’t afford the energy costs of heating food or water….

To be clear, the things that really drive higher electric usage is heating, both the spaces and domestic hot water in our homes. As the vast majority of UK homes heat with gas, this shouldn’t be a major issue for these folk, except of course the cost of gas that tripled in the last couple of years to the price cap amount of 10p/kWh…. However, some homes do use electric heating and these are often the elderly or less advantaged individuals or families, who might still have electric storage or space heaters. I cover home heating and costs in a separate blog.

So let’s try to debunk the myth that cooking food is unaffordable.

To get the context the average cost per kilowatt has more than doubled in recent months from around 15p/kWh to the new government price cap of 34p/kWh (now post autumn statement is guaranteed until March 2024 for the most vulnerable)

Let’s start off with boiling water with a kettle for a cup of tea.

The average kettle uses around 3 kWh per hour, which at today’s price cap is about £1 an hour.

The average kettle uses around 3 kWh per hour, which at today’s price cap is about £1 an hour.

It takes under two minutes to boil enough water for a large cup of tea, which is under 3p per boil.

If you were to drink three cups a day, this would amount to about 10p or £3 a month in total cost. The same consumption in 2021 would have been around 4.5p and £1.35p – so yes, the cost has increased, but I feel that to stop boiling the kettle for hot drinks, is unnecessary, and a minor detail in the grand scale of any monthly budget.

Oven and Microwave costs

The same can be said for cooking the average at the 34p price cap a 2kW oven costs about 70p an hour to run, with a fan oven reducing this by half! A 700w microwave, will cost around 24p per hour in energy costs…. So with the recent price hikes, it might be a little costly to cook a full Sunday roast taking over two hours, most dishes such as a chicken breast or a baked potato, are done in 30 minutes or less costing well under 50p. Therefore, just like boiling water for teas and coffees, restricting your cooking due to the increased cost of energy, is more than likely a false economy – we need hot food and drink, and it’s worth prioritising this cost over other activities that offer less health and wellbeing benefits.

What Is Kilowatt Hour?

A kilowatt-hour is a unit of energy. You will notice a value in W or kW on the electrical goods you have in your home. The kW number is the power demand of the item, which will tell you how much energy is required to run that product for an hour. Energy companies in the UK measure electricity consumption in a kilowatt-hour which is why it’s important to know for budgeting how much energy your appliances use in kilowatts per hour.

Cheaper hot food options

While I am not trivialising or suggesting that cooking food isn’t expensive in 2022, what I’m trying to do is to remove the fears around the cost of energy for cooking and providing some information to help put minds at rest. To minimise the costs of cooking, try using your microwave rather than the oven, only boil enough water for your immediate needs and maybe invest in an air fryer which can cut cooking costs in half, as they cook more quickly and use less energy.

I’d be happy to answer more questions in the comments if you’re still confused or worried about your energy bills and the cost of cooking.

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