Electrical appliances are one of the biggest costs towards your energy bills. This includes white goods and kitchen appliances such as tumble dryers, washing machines, fridges, freezers, ovens, hobs and kettles. But buying an energy efficient appliance is a great way to save energy and cut your running costs.

See below for details on how energy efficiency ratings work for various types of appliances. You’ll also find some handy energy saving ideas.

Washing machines and tumble dryers

The average UK household runs the washing machine four times a week. If you’re a family with a baby or young children, you probably use it even more. That increases your energy costs and can also add to your water bills.

It’s not just the washing that adds up. Tumble drying clothes can also use a lot of electricity, especially if your machine isn’t energy efficient and needs to run for longer.

A new machine could help with the bills. There are many different types of washing machines and tumble dryers available and one with a good energy rating will help you save electricity. Just make sure you look at the energy efficiency labels to find the appliance that best fits your needs.

Tips for smart usage

Follow our tips to use your washing machine and tumble dryer more efficiently. This could save you energy and water:

  • Always try to put a full load into your washing machine or tumble dryer.
  • Use economy programmes on your washing machine for small loads or washing that isn’t very dirty.
  • Wash at 30°C. Modern washing powders and detergents work just as well at lower temperatures.
  • If you have an Economy 7 meter, your electricity is cheaper to use at night. A washing machine with a delay to start the programme could lower your energy use and save you money.
  • If the weather is good, hanging clothes outside is a great alternative to the tumble dryer. It uses less energy than a tumble dryer and you’ll need to do less ironing.
  • You can use a clothes horse to dry your clothes indoors. Don’t hang your clothes over a radiator – it causes condensation and uses more energy in heating.
  • Make sure your tumble dryer works efficiently by checking the filters are fluff-free.

Ovens and hobs

Cooking adds up to about 4% of the average energy bill. But the way you cook your food can reduce your energy consumption. Microwaves can be the most energy efficient way to prepare a meal, as they heat the food directly and reduce cooking time.

Apart from microwaves, you could choose to cook your food in an electric oven or on a hob.

All electric ovens come with an energy rating. Choosing the right one can be a great way to save energy and money. An A+ rated electric oven can consume 40% less energy than a B rated one.

Cooking on a hob is often more efficient than using an oven. There are several types of electrical hobs to choose from:

  • Induction hobs
    These are the most energy efficient. They create a magnetic field that heats the pan, rather than the cooking surface. They cook food more quickly and are cheaper to run than other electric hobs. Not all pans can be used on an induction hob, so check yours are suitable.

  • Ceramic hobs
    These are easy to clean and quick to heat up, but they can be less efficient at heating pans.

  • Halogen hobs
    These are a type of ceramic hob. The cooking surface is strong and stable under high heat.

  • Electric plate hobs
    These traditional solid electric plates can be the cheapest to buy. But they may cost more to run and be less efficient.

Tips for smart usage

  • Cut food into smaller pieces before cooking. It may cook more quickly.
  • Cook vegetables by using just enough water to cover the food. Put a lid on the pan to keep the heat in.
  • Always use the right size of pan for your cooking ring.
  • Keep the lid on the pan as much as possible to keep the heat in.
  • Use pans that can divide into sections and cook several items at once.
  • Cook big batches of food together and freeze what you don’t need that day. It’s more energy efficient to use all the oven space available.
  • Don’t keep opening the oven door while you are cooking. Simple cooker maintenance keeps the glass clean, so you can peek in when you need to.

Fridges and freezers

Fridges and freezers are switched on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So it’s no surprise they can account for 20% of the electricity used in the average UK home.

Choosing an energy efficient fridge or freezer can help cut your bills. They come in many different shapes and sizes, which can affect their energy usage. For example, upright freezers are less efficient than chest freezers as cool air drops out of an upright freezer when you open the door.

All fridges and freezers come with an energy efficiency rating. That rating is based upon their size. So a smaller A rated fridge could use less energy than a bigger A+ rated appliance.

You can compare how much electricity different size appliances use by looking at their total annual energy consumption. You’ll find this on the bottom right of the energy label.

Tips for smart usage

  • Don’t put your fridge or freezer next to a cooker or in the sun. It will work more efficiently if it’s kept cool.
  • Make sure air can circulate around the back of your fridge or freezer. Also keep the back dust free.
  • Load and unload your fridge or freezer as quickly as possible. Don’t leave the door open longer than you need to.
  • Never put hot food in a fridge or freezer as it uses more energy. Let the food cool first.
  • To keep food fresh and your bills down, your fridge should be between 3 and 5°C. Your freezer should be kept at -18°C.
  • Defrost your fridge or freezer regularly. Too much ice can stop them from working efficiently.
  • Check for gaps in door seals that could let warm air in. Place a piece of paper in the door, if you can easily remove the paper with the door closed, then warm air can get into the fridge.
  • Use boxes or newspaper to fill gaps in your freezer. This stops your freezer from wasting energy by cooling air.

Eco kettles

The average UK household puts the kettle on 1,500 times a year, making it one of our most used kitchen appliances.

But it’s estimated that we boil twice as much water as needed each time we use the kettle. That wastes time, water and energy.

An ECO kettle can help cut bills. In fact, the most energy efficient kettles can use 20% less energy than standard electric ones.

Some models have a low minimum-fill line or turn off quickly after boiling. Others have a gauge or valve which releases a specific amount of water into the kettle for boiling.

Typical energy efficiency label showing coloured rating bands from green “A+++” at the top to red “D” at the bottom

Energy efficiency ratings

If you’re looking for a new appliance, energy efficiency labels can help you choose one with a good energy performance.

The labels must be displayed on various appliances, including:

  • Washing machines, washer dryers and tumble dryers
  • Fridges, freezers and fridge freezers
  • Electric ovens

The labels show the energy efficiency ratings in a range of colours. These go from dark green (most energy efficient) to red (least efficient).

The labels also show the appliance’s total energy consumption in kilowatt hours (kWh).

The labels also have other information relevant to the product. These include annual energy consumption for tumble dryers, storage volume for fridges and freezers and noise levels for washing machines.

The energy ratings are based on the size category of a product. That means that two differently sized appliances could have the same energy rating, but use very different amounts of electricity.

To make a direct comparison between machines, look at the energy consumption information on the bottom right of the label.