Kitchen appliances are among the most expensive household items when it comes to the total annual running costs, particularly larger ones like washing machines, tumble dryers and fridges. But while high-capacity electricals are notably more costly to use, the price of using a kettle can also add up with frequent use. And it could mean that simple tasks like boiling water are cheaper to do using other heat sources.
The cost of boiling water in a kettle depends on several factors including the type of appliance and the time it takes to reach 100C.
While boiling one litre of water compared to 500ml will cost more regardless of whether the kettle is electric or gas-powered, this figure can fluctuate massively if the heat source is changed.
For example, gas is typically cheaper than electricity per unit, so boiling the same capacity of water will cost less on a gas stove than using an electric kettle.
However, Britons could save even more money by switching to a microwave instead, which often has a lower KW rating than a kettle.
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All kettles show how much power their element uses, though the majority have a 3kW element. A 3kW kettle boils one cup of water (235ml) in approximately 45 seconds.
The floor unit prices for energy vary by region and payment type but for direct debit customers, the average cost is 34p/kWh for electricity and 10.3p/kWh for gas. According to GOV.UK, these floor prices remain unchanged until June 30, 2023.
Based on these figures, it would cost around £1.28 per use. However, heating larger amounts of water costs more.
A full kettle (around 1.7 litres) takes four minutes to boil, costing 6.8p for every use. This is equivalent to £49.64 per year.
But if the appliance has a larger power element, or is less energy efficient, it would cost more due to the increased boiling time.
According to William Hobbs, an energy expert at MyJobQuote, the cheapest way to boil the kettle is to “only use as much water as you need”.
But, he noted that microwaves can boil water for a “marginally cheaper cost”, but you need to work out the right timings and keep an eye on the water you’re boiling.
Estimates by the Centre for Sustainable Energy show that one cup of water can be boiled within two minutes using a microwave.
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The average microwave has a low power rating of around 0.7kW, so it would cost less than 1p to use it for two minutes.
Of course, this cost will increase for high-powered microwaves, but it’s still more cost-effective when making single cups of tea.
However, large quantities of water will boil in less time using a kettle, therefore costing less in most cases.
However, according to an energy expert, the cheapest way to boil water is by using a gas hob.
William said: “Boiling water on a gas burner can cut your costs by a third. Although this depends on your energy tariff.
“And you’ll need a stovetop kettle or a pan with a lid to boil your water safely and efficiently.”
For long-term solutions, an even cheaper solution than the gas hob is to install an instant boiling water tap.
While this may have a larger upfront cost than simply buying a kettle, it can save homeowners a considerable amount of money long term.