Air fryers are very convenient and allow you to enjoy a healthier version of your favorite fried treats. But how much does it cost to run an air fryer? And, could they also help you save money on your energy bill?
The best air fryers are suitable for cooking much more than just fries, and many people are increasingly using them instead of microwaves, and even instead of conventional ovens (more on that later). Is using your air fryer a cost-effective way to cook, and how does it compare to other appliances? We've 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). The amount of energy used depends on the model. You can easily figure out the cost by converting this to kilowatts per hour (kwh) in use depending on
your electricity provider.
'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.
Is an air fryer cheaper to run than a microwave?
No, a microwave is cheaper to run than an air fryer. According to Craig, 'microwaves usually have a wattage between 700 watts (0.7 kwh) to 1200 watts (1.2 kwh). 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, and 'while they do cost slightly more in power than microwaves, the benefits outweigh the cost.', says Craig. 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, 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 health, some people prefer to steer clear. An air fryer is the one for you if you want something similar to a microwave but 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. Sturat 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.'
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. First of all, although an air fryer can be used to 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.'
To sum up: is an air fryer a cost-effective device? For sure. Can it replace your microwave? Definitely? Will it replace an oven? Probably not. Keep your air fryer for cooking lighter, smaller meals during the summer and your oven for larger, more substantial meals.