Stuck between whether to upgrade your oven, invest in an air fryer or chuck everything into a multi-cooker? With the many appliances available today, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. One easy way to decide whether to buy an air fryer, multi-cooker or oven is by calculating how much they cost to run.
While there have been reports saying that the cost of living crisis should ease up in 2024, monthly bills, food shopping and other purchases have become much more expensive. With this in mind, many people have been turning away from the best ovens and looking to smaller kitchen appliances, like the best air fryers and the best multi-cookers to get the job done.
But do these pocket-sized ovens and compact cookers actually save time and money on your meals? I calculated how much it costs to run an air fryer, multi-cooker and oven so you can decide what’s the best fit for your kitchen.
How much does it cost to use an air fryer?
The initial cost of an air fryer will depend on the manufacturer, style and size that you choose. Dual basket air fryers tend to be more expensive than a single basket model due to size. For example, the Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer has a 3.8-litre capacity and 1550 wattage, whereas the super-sized Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer has a massive 10.4-litre capacity and 2470 wattage.
To calculate how much electricity your air fryer uses, you need to multiply the wattage by the number of hours you use it in a day, before dividing that number by 1000 to get the daily kilowatt an hour (kWh). This calculation is also how you work out the usage and cost of your multi-cooker and oven which I’ll explain below.
Most air fryers use between 800 - 2,000W of power. Using the Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer’s wattage as an example, if you use it for an hour a day, it’ll use 2.47kWH of electricity. From this, you can work out how much it costs to run an air fryer by checking what you pay per kWh which is displayed on your energy bill. In 2024, if you’re on a standard variable tariff and pay by direct debit, you’ll pay an average of 28.62p per kWh. To put this into perspective, if 1kWh is 28p and you’re using 2.47kWh an hour, this will cost you 69.16p a day.
How much does it cost to use a multi-cooker?
Today’s air fryers all come with multiple pre-set cooking options, like steaming, roasting and baking, which begs the question: how is a multi-cooker different from an air fryer? In general, a multi-cooker is an appliance that can perform six or more functions. Not all multi-cookers will have an air fryer function, and the construction of a multi-cooker is different as it tends to use a big pot rather than multiple baskets and attachments.
Multi-cookers typically use between 700W - 1800W of power which isn’t too dissimilar to air fryers. The only difference is that multi-cookers tend to run for longer due to pre-heating and the function you’re using. According to experts, multi-cookers typically cost between 35p - 92p an hour to run, but let’s say you’re using a multi-cooker with 1800W power and you use it for an hour at a time. Using the calculation from before, the multi-cooker will use 1.8kWh an hour which will cost 50.4p a day.
How much does it cost to use an oven?
Most kitchens come with an oven already so to some people, it might seem like a waste of money to not use their oven and buy a small appliance instead. And while I’m a big advocate for ovens, they aren’t the cheapest appliance to run.
The cost of your oven will depend on its size, energy rating, temperature and how often you use it. Generally, most ovens use between 900W - 3,500W of power, so already, they use more electricity than an air fryer or oven. If you’re using a 3,500W oven, this will total to 3.5kWh and will cost 98p to run.
Air fryer vs multi-cooker vs oven: who wins?
In this race, the air fryer and multi-cooker are pretty neck and neck. Both appliances cost around the same to run, but as multi-cookers tend to be used for longer periods of time compared to an air fryer, the air fryer is the cheaper kitchen appliance, so it takes the crown.
For big meals, I’d still suggest using an oven. However, using an air fryer or multi-cooker as an additional appliance can hurry along the cooking process and means you don’t need to use your oven for as long, so you’re less likely to rack up your electricity bills.