In the kitchen, there are a variety of appliances that can be used to cook food and achieve its ultimate taste. However, each uses its own way of cooking.
Take the conventional oven, for instance. It uses an electric element or gas burner to cook, with the heat radiating up and pushing cold air down. A gas stove burner, on the other hand, combusts gas and warms the pot from below.
Slow cookers, as the name suggests, simmer food at lower temperatures than other cooking methods like frying, baking, or boiling. But does that mean the cooking method consumes a lot of energy or is unfavorable to the environment?
Well, this article answers such questions!
Do Slow Cookers Use a Lot of Electricity?
Slow cookers use little electricity, making them energy efficient. Precisely, slow cookers, like those from Crock-Pot, use between 75 and 150 watts of electricity on low and between 150 and 210 watts on high settings.
That’s to say, the appliance can cook all day, but it will use the same amount of energy as a standard light bulb.
Yes — you read that right, a standard light bulb!
You see, the energy consumption of your slow cooker is expressed in wattage. And depending on the size of the slow cooker, its wattage runs between 50 and 300 watts. Hence, assuming that you use a 200-watt slow cooker for 8 hours, you only end up using 1.6 kWh.
And honestly speaking, that is not a lot of power, especially compared to other common kitchen appliances.
Let’s assume you have an even smaller slow cooker with a low range that uses a 70-watt element. Let’s stick to the same 8 hours of cooking. In this case, you will use 560 watt hours (Wh) of electricity.
Let’s drift a bit and take the example of a light bulb. Let’s assume you have a 100-watt light bulb in your kitchen and you leave it on while your slow cooker is cooking, you will use (8 hours X 100) 800-watt hours (Wh) of electricity on the light bulb alone.
So, which of the two uses more electricity?
Definitely, the slow cooker uses less electricity. It also means slow cookers are one of the most energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen, using similar or even less energy than a conventional light bulb and offering a more energy-efficient alternative to ovens.
Are Slow Cookers Cheaper to Run Than Ovens?
In a word, yes! Slow cookers are cheaper to run than ovens. Slow cookers use even less electricity than conventional light bulbs, let alone an oven and many other kitchen appliances.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy estimates the average electricity usage of an electric oven at between 2 and 2.2 kWh, while a microwave uses between 0.6 and 1.5 kWh.
The electric oven is the most expensive appliance to use in the home. Using it for an hour each day will cost £2.46 weekly. That is $4.55 a week, or £127.92 ($236.59) over a year. As such, with regards to your electric bill, the slow cooker will be cheaper to run than the oven.
Even more, ovens require installation, which could cost some more money, with most homeowners spending about $2000 on average for the unit and installation. That’s unlike a slow cooker that requires no such installation charges, and even if it did, it would not get as high as the ovens.
According to Hunting Waterfalls, an oven is much more expensive to run than a slow cooker. A slow cooker will use between 1.2 and 1.7 kWh (16-22 cents) to cook a meal for 8 hours, while an oven will use, on average, 2.4 kWh (31 cents) per hour, or $2.48 for the eight hours.
The oven most likely uses more energy when pre-heating. In fact, the amount they use to preheat alone is enough for the slow cooker to heat and cook an entire meal.
Generally, ovens range from 1000 to 5000 watts, with an average of 2400 watts, whereas slow cookers use between 75 and 210 watts of power, depending on the setting.
How Much Does a Slow Cooker Cost to Run?
According to Hunting Waterfalls, for an 8-hour cooking time using a slow cooker, you will roughly use 1.2-1.7kWh of electricity. With the average cost of electricity being around $0.13/kWh, the slow cooker will cost you roughly 16-22 cents for the eight hours of cooking.
Also, at roughly 150-210 watts, the slow cooker only costs around 2-3 cents per hour to run. A meal cooked over 8 hours will, therefore, cost between 16-24 cents, depending on your slow cooker and electricity costs.
This is a very low cost, making the slow cooker an energy-efficient appliance in addition to being cheap to run.
Is a Slow Cooker a Good Investment?
Absolutely! A slow cooker is a good investment, as it poses a wide range of advantages
1. Easy to Use
The skills required to operate a slow cooker are very minimal. The settings and features are easy to read and control for different temperatures, times, and programs.
2. It Is Convenient and Time-Saving
With a slow cooker, you only need to put ingredients in the pot, turn it on, and return to a cooked meal.
Instead of cooking while tired at work, you can set the slow cooker in the morning before you leave for work, and it will return to a ready dish by the time you get back home.
3. It Saves Money
As we have learned above, slow cookers are energy-efficient. They use less electricity, meaning they will save you money on your electricity bill.
Plus, modern slow cookers even function as multicookers, combining several appliance functions into one, saving you money by buying multiple single appliances.
4. They are Energy Efficient
Slow cookers use little amounts of electricity without wasting energy. If you are conscious about saving energy, consider getting a slow cooker.
Additionally, if it is multifunctional, it will save you power because you will only use one appliance rather than multiple appliances, which would demand even more power.
5. They are Easy to Clean
Cleanliness is imperative in the kitchen, and slow cookers are easy to clean. The inner pot is removable and is often non-stick, making cleaning easier.
Moreover, you can buy plastic, disposable liners for the appliances, making cleaning them easy as you will only remove the liner and toss them in the garbage. A quick rinse or wipe of the pot and lid is all that you will need.
6. It Can Cook Almost Everything
A slow cooker can cook the majority of the meals and recipes common at home. In fact, all the fresh produce ingredients can be cooked in a slow cooker. However, since some ingredients may be challenging in a slow cooker, there are various options to overcome the challenges.
7. It Uses Less Oil or Fat
The appliance is well-designed to retain moisture while cooking, and as such, all you will need is a few additional moisture sources, like coating the pot with oil, to avoid foods sticking.
As such, you require less oil or fat to cook. This cuts down on the fat content in your meals can prevent cholesterol and promote a healthier body.
8. Sweet Food
The flavor of the food cooked in a slow cooker is retained because there is no evaporation during the cooking process. All the flavors developed during the hours of cooking are trapped, resulting in delicious meals with a tasteful flavor.
In line with trapping all the flavors, the cooking odor is also contained in the pot. While some foods release some pungent odors while cooking, all the smell is trapped in the pot and will only come out when the appliance is opened.
9. Excellent Food Safety
Slow cookers cook at temperatures just high enough to kill pathogens in some foods, such as meat. The keep-warm function enables the food to maintain temperatures and prevent bacteria formation, which thrives in cold food.
What’s more, the materials used to make these appliances are BPA-free and approved by the FDA as safe for cooking. Your health is therefore guaranteed with there being no risks from PFOA materials.
What Appliances Use the Most Electricity in the House?
As already seen, slow cookers are nowhere near the list of heavy energy users in the kitchen. In case you’re wondering which appliances might upsurge your energy bills, here are a few of them;
1. Microwave Oven
The average-sized microwave oven uses about 215 kWh of electricity per year. The average microwave’s wattage ranges from 600 to 1500 watts.
Fortunately, these appliances are used for a limited amount of time, making the overall yearly energy use lower than what their pull suggests. An average 1200-watt microwave, if used for 30 minutes, will draw around 215 kWh.
A refrigerator/freezer combo consumes up to 1800 kWh per year. In contrast to the microwave oven, the average refrigerator wattage runs anywhere from 150 to 400 watts; a relatively small amount.
However, since refrigerators are used throughout the day and the year, their annual consumption can vary between 720 and 1,800 kWh. But there’s one thing worth noting — older, less-efficient models consume the most electricity.
Your average dishwasher runs up to 855 kWh annually. It will also draw about 1,200 watts of electricity. However, calculating the yearly consumption varies greatly depending on whether you use an energy-saving cycle or the ultra-hot, longer-running scouring cycle.
Whether your household water is heated by gas or electricity is also a factor. For comparison purposes, the yearly energy consumption, using the standard of 1.5 hours of usage per week, ranges between 300 kWh and 855 kWh.
4. Coffee Maker
The typical coffee maker uses between 13 kWh and 42 kWh per year, drawing between 500 and 1,000 watts. However, coffee machine brewing habits vary greatly from household to household.
As such, the rough calculations for annual energy consumption depend on how much of a coffee addict you are, although typically, it ranges between 13 kWh and 42 kWh.
5. Espresso Machines
The domestic espresso machine has a wattage of between 1,000 and 1,500 watts and can consume a whopping 1.25 kW per cup. Based on just one cup per day, an espresso maker averages a robust 450 kWh annually, making it one kitchen appliance you may want to reserve for special occasions.
6. The Oven
Ovens usually range from 1000 to 5000 watts, averaging 2400 watts. Ovens require preheating for half an hour, using approximately 1.2 kWh, added to another 2-3 hours of cooking time, which can use another 6-8.5 kWh to cook a meal in the oven.
7. Other Domestic Appliances
All the appliances mentioned above are used in the kitchen. However, other domestic appliances can consume as much or even more energy.
Their monthly consumption includes:
- The central air conditioner: 1450kWh
- Water heater: 310kWh for a 4-person household
- The dryer: 75kWh
- Lighting: 50kWh for a 4-5-room household
- The television: 27kWh per month
- The washing machine: 9kWh
What Temperature Does a Slow Cooker Cook At?
Slow cookers usually cook between 170 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit over several hours. A slow cooker can heat up to about 170 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit on the low setting and up to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit on the high setting.
On the warm setting, the cooked food you want to warm should be at a minimum temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Slow cookers warm gradually and cook at a relatively slow pace, meaning their temperatures vary depending on how long you are cooking.
How Hot Does a Slow Cooker Get?
Even though slow cookers can reach temperatures of 300 degrees Fahrenheit, once the food that you are cooking contains a lot of water or liquid, the temperature of the food will stop rising at the boiling point.
That is why time is the metric most slow cookers use instead of temperature. The food in the cooker’s crock pot will reach a maximum temperature or just below the boiling point, whether you use the Low or High setting.
The main difference between the settings is how long the food will take to reach its maximum temperature. Crock-Pot stated that it takes 7-8 hours on the low setting and 3-4 hours on the high setting for the food to reach its boiling point.