Cooking and money saving: Are slow cookers energy efficient?

Slow cookers are a very convenient kitchen appliance. You just have to prepare the ingredients, put them into the pot, set the temperature, and return a couple of hours later to a ready-cooked meal. Slow cookers cook food unattended at low temperatures for long hours. But many users and potential users have concerns about energy and electric bills.  So, how much electricity does a slow cooker use, are slow cookers energy efficient?

The short answer to what’s outlined below in detail: Yes, a slow cooker is energy efficient and it can reduce your electricity cost by half.

There are several factors that determine how much energy your slow cooker consumes. The most important factor is, buying a modern slow cooker with efficient energy ratings.  Further factors include:

  • the right size of the slow cooker
  • the cooking temperature
  • the length of the cooking time

Soo… how much electricity does a slow cooker use?

Modern Slow cookers consume as little as 150 Watts per hour at Low setting. So in 6 hours on a low setting, the total use is 900 -watt-hours. This is a much lower consumption than an electric stovetop or an oven needs to get a meal cooked. Even a pressure cooker will consume much more electricity.

Considering the factors such as the size, temperature, length of cooking time, and the amount of food cooked, slow cookers can cut your electricity cost for cooking by half.

Use this Energy use calculator to find out how much electricity does a slow cooker use compared to an electric stovetop.  Just enter the cooking hours, the Watt rating – slow cooker electricity use, and what you paying per uni electricity.

Let’s look at the details: Why are slow cookers energy efficient and how much electricity does a slow cooker use?

American kitchen appliances use 120 volts of AC power. Common slow cookers draw an electrical current of 0.6 to 2 amps at this voltage. So the power consumption is depending on the model somewhere in the range of 70 watts (low temperature) to 250 watts (high temperature).

For example, suppose you use a large unit (e.g. 6 quarts) that has 180 watts on the low setting and 250 watts on the high setting.

If you cook your food on high for 5 hours, the calculation is:

  • 5 hours x 250 watts = 1,250 watt-hours

The calculation shows that your kitchen appliance consumes 1,250 watt-hours of electricity.

How energy efficient is it if you use it on the low setting for 9 hours?

  • 9 hours x 180 watts = 1,620 watt hours

The calculation shows that if you cook for 9 hours on the low setting, you will use 1,620 watt-hours of electricity.

The average electricity rate in the US is 13.19 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). So the electricity cost of cooking a meal in an average-sized slow cooker is just around 20 cents.

Comparing slow cooker energy efficiency with ovens

Electric stoves usually have four or more heating elements of different sizes. Energy use for the smallest cook element may be as low as 1200 watts per hour to well over 3000 watts for the largest cooktop element.

Even a regular electric stove does not continuously heat during the cooking process as the pot and food inside retain some heat and the element only heats when it notices a drop in temperature, the calculation is not as favorable as the one for the slow cooker.

Let us say that your largest heating element consumes electricity only 30 minutes out of every hour; it only consumes 1/2 of the 3,000 watts element.

1/2 x 3,000 watts = 1,500 watt-hours.  But be honest, you will not cook a delicious meal in that short time using a regular stove.

However, this is the energy that your slow cooker will use to cook a delicious meal in 8 hours.

Benefits of slow cooking

Aside from being more energy-efficient compared to other electrical cooking appliances, slow cookers have a lot more benefits. Generally, slow cookers can soften tough ingredients such as stew meat, tendons, and ligaments and you can save energy by simply adding all the ingredients to the pot and turning on a low setting.

Slow cooking also preserves nutrients and vitamins. It is gentle cooking at low temperature which saves the nutrients from breaking down.

With slow cookers, you are able to cook home-cooked, healthy meals, without spending all day in the kitchen tending the cooking. Slow cookers are very energy efficient and reliable devices; you can leave them while they are cooking your food without requiring you to frequently check on it.

Home-cooked slow cooker dishes will reduce your consumption of processed foods that contain plenty of added sugars, salt, and other unhealthy ingredients.

You will be more creative when it comes to cooking recipes with a slow cooker. Experiment with combinations of ingredients and create your own recipes for sumptuous meals.

You can add more of your favorite ingredients or more vegetables to increase your nutritional content.

With a slow cooker, you can prepare healthy meals for the whole family. Even when you are working, you can prepare healthy dishes for your children and spouse.

All you have to do is prepare the ingredients, throw them in the pot, and turn on the dial. You don’t have to frequently check on it as the slow cooker does its job. 

Is There an Advantage?

So it is quite possible to save electricity with a slow cooker. Critical is, to select the right size slow cooker and to fill the pot effectively. Setting the correct cooking time and the right temperature is essential too.

Using an energy-efficient slow cooker is worth it because not only do you cut your energy costs for cookingIt also allows you to prepare healthy, delicious, home-cooked meals without spending all day in the kitchen watching the food not to burn as this will not happen at low temperatures.

7 thoughts on “Cooking and money saving: Are slow cookers energy efficient?”

  1. We have solar power energy. I use my slow cooker nearly every day but if you buy one check on the label on the bottom what wattage it is.a few have high wattage and are not any use.

  2. You should update some of the electrical terms above.

    “5 hours x 250 watts = 1,250 watts
    The calculation shows that your slow cooker uses 1,250 watts of electricity.
    If you use it for 9 hours on low setting, how energy efficient it is?
    9 hours x 180 watts = 1,620 watts
    The calculation shows that you consume 1,620 watts of electricity if you cook at a low setting for 9 hours”

    5 hours x 250 watts = 1,250 watt-hours. Or 1.25kWh.
    The calculation shows that your slow cooker uses 1.25 kWh of electricity.
    9 hours x 180 watts = 1,620 watt-hours. Or 1.62 kWh.
    The calculation shows that you consume 1.62 kWh of electricity if you cook at a low setting for 9 hours

      • This is actually incorrect as it assumes that there is NO thermostatic control and therefor the 250W (high setting) is ON all the time.
        This is not generally the case.
        Typically, when the product reaches the desired temperature, the element will cycle on/off. I’m not sure of the duty cycle as it would depend greatly on heat losses etc. but it should NOT be 100% of the math above.

        Just FYI

        • Yes, you’re right. Thank you for pointing this out.
          Many programmable slow cookers have a thermal control built in that cuts off heating when the desired temperature is reached. If you account for cyclical heating, the slow cooker is even more economical.

          Older and very simple slow cookers do not heat in cycles. The heating elements are dimensioned so that a certain temperature is maintained at a certain fill level. If this is exceeded or fallen below, the temperature will differ accordingly. However, they have a thermal fuse, which cuts power in case of severe overheating.


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