How much do air fryers cost to use?

Are these cool kitchen appliances cheaper to use than an oven or a microwave? We asked the experts how much air fryers cost to run and here's the verdict

Air fryer machine cooking potato fries in kitchen
(Image credit: paulaphoto / Getty)

Knowing how much an air fryer costs to run is the question on everyone's mind right now. With the cost of living impacting not only how we live in our own homes, but also how we go about our day-to-day, we've all become more conscious of our energy consumption and household expenditures. 

Whether you're swapping turning the radiators on with buying a heated clothes rack, banning takeout, or getting even more creative with keeping costs down, there are many ways to cut back. And it may come as a surprise, but investing in high-quality kitchen appliances like air fryers could actually be one of the best moves you make for your bank balance.

These nifty gadgets came into the spotlight a couple of years back thanks to their incredible ability to pretty much replicate the humble French fry, taking something typically loaded with oil and salt, and miraculously turning it into a far healthier and just as, if not more, delicious food. Now, they are a staple in many kitchens, so if you already have one you might be wondering how much it costs every time you use it. And if you're considering trying one out, you might want to know if it's worth your cash now and in the long run.

The cost efficiency of air fryers is definitely one of their best-selling points.

A lot depends on your regular cooking habits and more to be discussed below, of course. But, if you're looking to join the air fryer crew and want to know how much this cool kitchen appliance will cost to use, compared to your cooker or microwave, you're in the right place. We asked the experts, and here's what they had to say.

How much does it cost to run an air fryer?

As a general estimate, air fryers cost anywhere between $0.20 and $0.80 to run for an hour, depending on the air fryer model and the cost of energy where you live. In the UK, it is estimated the average air fryer costs about a penny for every five minutes it is on.

There's a very simple formula for working out how much it costs to run an air fryer in your home, as provided to us by Daniel P. Craig, the founder of Kitchen Deets (opens in new tab). Craig explains that air fryers 'use anywhere from 1,200 watts (1.2kwh) to 1,800 watts (1.8 kwh)' but it varies depending on the model you're using. 

'You can easily figure out the cost by converting this to kilowatts per hour (kwh) in use depending on your electricity provider,' Craig notes. 'Suppose, the average residential retail price per kilowatt-hour is $0.14, so if you have an air fryer that runs on 1.4 kilowatts and it runs for 15 minutes (0.35 kwh multiply by $0.14), it will cost you $0.049.'

You can easily find out how many watts of energy your specific air fryer uses by having a look through the product manual.

Black air fryer with gingham cloth in kitchen

(Image credit: CASEZY / Getty)

Is an air fryer cheaper to run than a microwave?

No, a microwave is cheaper to run than an air fryer. 'Microwaves usually have a wattage between 700 watts (0.7 kwh) to 1200 watts (1.2 kwh),' according to Craig. 'If we do the math again with an average microwave running on 0.9 kilowatts for 15 minutes which would be 0.225 kWh (0.225 kwh Multiply by $0.14= $0.0315) then microwaves cost less than air fryers per hour of use at current retail prices when using a comparable amount of power.'

This doesn't mean that you should automatically switch to a microwave. The difference in cost is small. Craig also explains that although air fryers are a tad more expensive, 'the benefits outweigh the cost.' These benefits primarily revolve around the very small amount of oil or fat you have to use to cook with an air fryer, even smaller than with a microwave. 

Also, microwaves are predominantly used for reheating leftovers or cooking ready meals. Store-bought microwave dinners can be expensive, so you might find the versatility of an air fryer means your overall cost is less. You can make far tastier meals with humble ingredients in an air fryer – pretty much any vegetable air-fried is much better than microwaved. And, contrary to belief, you can reheat a lot of foods in an air fryer too, from pizza to chow mein. Microwave pizza anyone? No thanks.

The other reason why air fryers are preferred by many people is that they use convection heat rather than electromagnetic waves to heat food. Although there's no conclusive evidence that the electromagnetic waves from microwaves are harmful to your health, some people prefer to steer clear. An air fryer is the one for you if you want something similar to a microwave that doesn't use radiation. 

Are air fryers cheaper to run than conventional ovens?

Yes, definitely. An average oven uses 3,000 watts of energy per hour – double the average air fryer. You may also see a secondary energy-saving effect if you use your air fryer instead of your oven during the hot summer months and use an AC unit to cool down your home. Stuart Melling, of A Matter of Taste (opens in new tab), explains how this works: 'The unit outputs far less ambient heat than running the much larger oven. In the warmer months that means less heat for my AC to dissipate, and lower energy costs there for certain. These days we *never* run the oven in the warmer summer months, the improved air cooling is noticeable, and I am certain, the costs therein.'

French fries cooked in air fryer

(Image credit: yulka3ice / Getty)

Viewed this way, an air fryer becomes an attractive proposition cost-wise. However, this doesn't mean you should just get rid of your oven. Although an air fryer can cook many foods (just check out our list of air fryer recipes), it's not nearly as versatile as a proper oven. Sure, it's great for fries and even fried chicken, but you may struggle with more elaborate dishes.

Ben Price, a home and HVAC expert and co-founder of Heatable UK (opens in new tab) also points out that if you typically cook larger meals for a family, a conventional oven is still your best bet: 'If you're cooking something big like a turkey or a roast, then an oven will probably be cheaper because it can take advantage of more heat and space.'

Should you use an air fryer instead of your oven?

It really depends on your cooking/eating habits and on how much you want to reduce energy bills by. Then of course it depends on the model itself, its cooking functions and whether it can cater to your entire family or just yourself if you live solo. 

Head of reviews, Millie Fender, looked at all the reasons why air fryers are worth it and lots of our in-house reviewers disclosed how they would happily cook entire meals in their air fryers.

Then if you look at some of the Amazon reviews out there of specific products, it seems that they are becoming a viable option to take over the conventional oven. 

Take Instant Pot's Pro Crisp 11-in-1 Air Fryer (opens in new tab) for example. While it's actually a multi-cooker with air frying capabilities, and although we haven't personally reviewed it, alongside its Amazon Best Seller status for pressure cookers and 4.5 star rating, it has some rave reviews commenting on how it almost replaced their need for a conventional oven, not to mention, how delicious and quick food is to make.

'I bought this on advice that it would replace a lot of items I used to put in the oven. Takes up some bench space but in the few weeks we’ve used it (there are 2 of us) we’ve not used the oven. Very energy efficient and easy to clean. Loads of recipes online. Once you get the hang of it there’s no looking back.' Instant Pot Pro Crisp Amazon reviewer.

In case you were wondering, this model operates at 1500W, so if we go by Craig's conversion formula. it should cost around $0.053 to run for 15 minutes compared to roughly double that (around $0.10) if you were to use your oven for 15 minutes, which let's face it, is hardly enough time to warm it up, let alone cook a good meal...

This UK-based reviewer noted: 

'I cooked 4 chicken breasts in less than 20 mins, much better than the fan oven too. One of my best buys ever.'

We will take their word for it.

In all, using an air fryer at home is pretty cost-efficient and if you're looking at ways to keep mealtimes interesting, without forking out – excuse the pun – it's a good time to invest.

Could an air fryer replace your microwave? Definitely. Could it replace your oven? If you wanted it to but we would personally keep it as an additional kitchen appliance so that you're not so heavily reliant on your oven.

Keep your air fryer for cooking smaller meals or side dishes, and your oven for larger, more substantial meals. 

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design. 

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