How an Air Fryer Can Trim Your Energy Bill, Especially During a Heat Wave – CNET

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

While parts of Europe will see record-breaking temperatures this week, many regions in the US will also experience heat waves with temps nearing or hitting triple digits from sea to simmering sea. If you’re looking for ways to keep the temperature down in your own home or apartment and trim some money off your utility bill, an air fryer can help with both. These energy-efficient countertop ovens not only cost less to run than a large oven but they won’t heat your entire kitchen the way full-sized stoves and ovens do. 

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Even without those money-saving and heat-lowering bonuses, we love air fryer ovens for how quickly they cook and how well they turn out juicy chicken wings, fries, vegetables and seafood compared to full-size ovens. Big ovens take much longer to preheat and cook and won’t ever give you that coveted crispy skin like an air fryer will. Adding one to your kitchen can also save you money if you use it regularly and bypass the big oven, and you won’t have to worry about turning the heart of your home into a sauna since air fryers emit only a fraction of that heat. 

Read moreThe 5 Best Air Fryers for 2022

After a grill, the air fryer just might be the best warm-weather cooking tool you can buy. If you’re wondering how much energy your gas oven or electric oven uses, we’ve calculated the costs and compared them to the cost of running an air fryer. 

How much can an air fryer save you versus a full-size oven? 

The answer won’t be the same for everyone since energy costs vary by state in the US. Oven efficiency also varies and newer models tend to use less gas or electricity. For this exercise, we’ll use some averages and estimates to assess how much you can potentially save if you fire up the air fryer instead of the oven. Oh, and saving money on energy is just one of many reasons we think air fryers are a worthwhile investment. More on that in a bit. 

Cost of oven versus air fryer

Gas oven Electric oven Air fryer
Cost per hour of cooking 40 cents 52 cents 25 cents

So how did we get these numbers? The easiest way to figure out how much an air fryer might save you versus a big oven was to calculate the wattage pulled per hour versus how much an electric stove would use. The same goes for a gas oven, although for that you need to figure out the amount of natural gas used for a stove as well as the cost of natural gas in your state. 

Don’t worry. We did the hard part. 

Gas vs. electric ovens

Depending on what type of oven you have, gas or electric, operating cost will vary since natural gas prices and electricity costs vary rather dramatically by state and service provider. While both use a similar amount of energy and have somewhat similar upfront costs, if you own an older oven there’s a good chance it’s less energy-efficient than a newer model.

Red oven surrounded by kitchen cabinets

Modern ovens are more energy-efficient than they used to be. But few, if any, can beat an air fryer.


KitchenAid

How much does a gas stove cost to run?

To calculate the operating cost of your gas stove and oven, we take the energy rating of the oven in Btu and divide it by 100,000. Multiply the result by the cost per therm of natural gas in your state (varies greatly), then multiply by the number of hours the oven is used. You should be able to find the energy rating of your oven online if you know the model name or number. It is likely somewhere on the unit itself. If you still have the owner’s manual, you can find the energy rating there, measured in Btu. 

To calculate the operating cost of an 18,000-Btu oven, you’ll divide 18,000 by 100,000, giving you 0.18. We’ll also need to find the average price per therm of natural gas in your state. This chart has the most recent prices via the US Energy Information Administration. Note that this chart is listed in dollars per thousand cubic feet, so you’ll need to divide by 10. For instance, if the chart price is $23, you’ll use $2.30 to calculate the cost. 

In New York where I live, the price is currently $2.20 per therm (about average for the US). Next, we’ll multiply that price for a therm by the number you calculated in the last step (0.18 in this example) to get the operating cost per hour of using your gas oven. 

For me, it would cost about 40 cents per hour to run an 18,000-Btu oven. If I were to run an oven for 1 hour per day, it would cost $146 per year. In some states (including Georgia, Florida and Ohio), natural gas is about 30% higher than the national average. In Hawaii, it’s more than double.

Stovetop

In New York, an electric oven costs about 50 cents an hour to run.


Chris Monroe/CNET

How much does an electric stove cost to run?

To determine electric stove consumption you’ll calculate the wattage pulled per hour of cooking. Most electric ovens draw around 3,000 watts, depending on the temperature. Once you find the wattage of your oven via the appliance tag, owner’s manual or an online product listing, multiply that by the number of hours you use the oven each day (we’ll use 1 hour for this calculation), then divide by 1,000 watts to find the kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity used. 

Next, find the average price per kWh of electricity in your state. For that, you can consult this chart that has the 2020 prices listed in cents per kWh. The prices for 2021 won’t be released until December 2022, but if you do some web searching, you should be able to find the latest figures. Multiply that amount by the number you just calculated (3 kWh in this example) to determine your operating cost per day. 

Working with New York’s current electricity rate of 17 cents per kWh, a 3,000-watt oven would cost about 51 cents per hour when run at high heat. If I used my oven for roughly 1 hour per day for one year that would equal roughly $182 per year. This cost doesn’t include energy used by the range and burners. 

Cosori air fryer on a countertop

A standard 1,500-watt air fryer has both gas and electric ovens beat handily when it comes to energy efficiency.


Cosori

How much an air fryer costs to operate

Air fryers are electric appliances, so we can use the same methodology as above to find the operating cost. The wattage for air fryers varies and larger models will use more energy, but a standard 4-quart fryer such as this Ninja (our top-rated model) uses about 1,500 watts. 

Considering that’s exactly half the wattage pull of the average full-size oven from our stove calculation, we can project that the air fryer will use roughly half as much electricity to operate. 

Using New York’s electricity prices, we safely say a standard 4-quart air fryer will cost about 25 cents per hour to run. That’s 50% more energy-efficient than the average full-size electric oven and about 35% more efficient than the average gas oven (calculated with New York state’s average energy costs).

Ninja air fryer

Ninja’s 4-quart air fryer oven is one of the best we’ve tested.


CNET/Ninja

So how much can you save using an air fryer?

  • Cost of 300 hours of cooking with a gas oven on high heat: $153
  • Cost of 300 hours of cooking with an electric oven on high heat: $120
  • Cost of 150 hours of cooking with an air fryer: $39

These numbers are a rough estimate, of course. The numbers will vary based on your state’s energy cost, how much cooking you do in the course of a year, what temperature you’re cooking at and the type and size of oven you’re using. 

But that’s only half of the equation. Air fryers are even more energy- and cost-efficient than these raw numbers illustrate. 

Here’s why…

Air fryers cook food much faster than standard ovens

Because of the smaller cooking chamber and superconvection (intense fan blowing heat into food), air fryers generally cook foods much faster than your traditional gas or electric stove. Often in about half the time it takes to make a similar recipe in a full oven.

Below are some examples of cooking times for air fryer versus stove. The cooking website Taste of Home compiled a list of average air fryer cooking times for popular foods. We compared those with standard cooking times pulled from Food Network recipes for oven-baked or oven-roasted versions of those foods.

Air fryer versus oven

Food Temperature Air fryer cooking time (mins) Oven cooking time with preheat (mins)
Chicken thighs 400 F 20-25 40
Chicken wings 375 F 10-12 40
Chicken breast 375 F 23 30
Salmon 400 F 5-7 12-15
Brussels sprouts 350 F 15-18 40
Bacon 400 F 5-10 20
Cauliflower 400 F 10-12 20
French fries (from scratch) 400 F 10-20 40-45
French fries (frozen) 400 F 6-8 18-20

Air fryers also don’t need to preheat

Don’t forget most air fryers also don’t require any preheating time, making them even more efficient. The average full-size oven takes at least 10 minutes to preheat but usually more like 12 to 15 minutes. Preheating requires as much (or more) energy as actual cooking. In the chart above, I added a modest 10 minutes to each of the oven cooking times to account for preheating.

If you consider that an air fryer does the work of an oven in half the time (even faster when you include preheat time), 300 hours of cooking in a standard oven over the course of a year would likely take fewer than 150 hours when done in an air fryer. 

Crispy chicken wings on a plate

Chicken wings made in an air fryer are extremely tasty and cook in half the time.


Brian Bennett/CNET

Read moreThe 5 Best Air Fryers for 2022

Before we get carried away…

An air fryer is not a pound-for-pound replacement of an oven. There are plenty of foods that you probably won’t want to cook in an air fryer. Others just plain won’t fit in a standard air fryer. Certain models are spacious enough to cook a whole chicken, but for larger roasts, a Thanksgiving turkey or that Sunday lasagna — not to mention most baking projects — your air fryer may not be the best option. 

That said, for someone who doesn’t bake much or cook whole turkeys and racks of lamb on the regular, an air fryer can shoulder a whole lot of the cooking that your more expensive, less energy-efficient oven has been handling. 

roast turkey on a platter with apples

Don’t throw your big oven away just yet. You’ll still want it to cook that Sunday lasagna and a turkey on Thanksgiving.


mphillips007/E+/Getty Images

Saving money is nice, but that’s not the best reason to air-fry

An air fryer won’t cook everything better than your oven, but there are some air fryer foods that a big oven can’t touch. Because air fryers cook so fast and at high temps, foods like chicken wings, french fries and most frozen apps will get crispy on the outside without drying out on the inside the way they might when stuck in the large oven for 30 or 40 minutes. 

As mentioned, air fryers don’t require any preheating time either. Most of the models I’ve used are also extremely simple to operate, safe even for children to use and easy to clean.

Crispy fried chicken in an Instant Pot air fryer lid

The Instant Pot air fryer lid turned out some excellent fried chicken in about 20 minutes. Can your big oven do that?


David Watsky/CNET

Bonus: Air fryers are cheap

You can pay in the hundreds for an air fryer but many of the best ones we tested are less than that. You can pick up our favorite air fryer, the Ninja 4-quart, for $100, or cheaper if you find it on sale. And our favorite budget air fryer, the Gourmia 4-quart, can be found for just $60.

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David Watsky

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