electric kettle or stove…
what’s the best way to boil water?

Kitchen appliancesStep into just about any modern kitchen and you’ll find a collection of small appliances from toasters to blenders, food processors and more. They’re convenient and easy to use, and since they only run for a short time, we don’t tend to think of them as an energy drain. But, that’s where we could be wrong. Take a look at your small appliances, usually the watt output should be listed on the appliance or its cord. If not, it’s on the original box (if you still have that).

Obviously it’s more energy efficient to hand-grate cheese than to pull out the food processor, but what about an electric kettle? Is it better than using the stove to boil water? Some small appliances, like blenders, just don’t have a reasonable by-hand alternative.

To calculate energy usage, multiply the wattage by the hours used, then divide that by 1,000 and multiply by the price per kilowatt-hour (kWh). OR:  wattage x hours used ÷ 1000 x price per kWh = cost of electricity. In 2012, the US average cost per kWh was $0.13.

That electric kettle? It uses 1,500 watts, a small stove burner uses about 1,200. So for every hour of usage, the kettle will cost just over $0.19 and the stove burner will cost just over $.015. If the kettle boils water faster, it might be more efficient; if it takes the same amount of time, then the stove is not only cheaper, but uses less electricity. What about a slow cooker? The friend of every busy mom is an energy sipper; most models have a mere 250-watt output, so eight hours of cooking costs $0.26. Which is the equivalent of running an electric oven at 350-degrees for just one hour. Using a toaster oven for one hour, however, costs a mere $0.16.

Unfortunately, there are no simple answers. Be aware of the energy use of each appliance and how long it will take to use that appliance to do the job at hand, then choose the method that offers the best overall savings. In the case of the oven, if you’re cooking salmon filets for two, the toaster oven is the best option. If you’re planning a pot roast that’s going to require 3 to 4 hours in that 350-degree oven, reach for the slow cooker instead.

While you’re at it, make sure you’re unplugging all unused appliances to eliminate phantom power drains, and choose the most efficient tool for the job. If you’re a family of two with a thing for smoothies, don’t opt for the power-hungry, family-sized blender. Get something more suited to your immediate needs and you’ll be sipping delicious smoothies, while saving energy.

Energy Usage Chart

Typical family of four

Appliance

Typical Wattage

Average Hours Used/Month

Average Monthly Cost @ $0.13 / kWh

Clothes Dryer – electric

5,000

24

$15.60

Clothes Washer

1,200

16

$2.50

Coffee Maker

900

13

$1.52

Dishwasher – heated dry

1,000

20

$2.60

Dishwasher – air dry

200

20

$0.52

100-Watt Incandescent

100

240

$3.12

23-Watt CFL

23

240

$0.72

Microwave Oven

1,500

10

$1.95

Rangetop, Large Unit

2,400

10

$3.12

Rangetop, Small Unit

1,200

10

$1.56

Slow Cooker

250

40

$1.30

Toaster

1,000

3

$0.39

Toaster Oven

1,200

3

$0.47

 

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what’s the best way to boil water?

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