The air fryer has become one of the most popular kitchen appliances in recent years, especially as air frying has become a function on devices that can cook food in a lot of different ways.
Air frying really took off with the claim that it was healthier than regular frying, but actually, air frying is more comparable to a regular convection oven in terms of how it works.
It has a heating element and then a fan to quickly move hot air around your food. Fan ovens do the same, but because they are larger, that hot air doesn’t move as quickly – it’s more about even baking than it is about rapid crisping of your food.
But if you want to save energy, which is the best choice – an air fryer or a convection oven? Can you save money on your utility bills by switching to mainly air frying your food? Let’s find out…
How much electricity does an air fryer use?
An air fryer typically uses between 1.4 kWh and 1.8 kWh of electricity every hour that it is switched on. Considering most recipes for an air fryer have a cooking time of 15-20 minutes, that means you would normally use anywhere between 0.35 kWh and 0.6 kWh of electricity.
Air fryers are fast and powerful, so will cook your food quickly. Couple that with the lower power consumption against a large appliance such as an oven, and you can definitely help bring your bills down.
Does an air fryer use a lot of electricity?
Air fryers don’t use a lot of electricity compared to some other cooking devices, including ovens. Typically they’ll use around half the energy of a convection oven, and a similar amount of power to a deep fryer. They use around twice the power of a microwave, and up to 6x that of a crockpot.
Remember though that you also need to compare average cooking times for your devices, and what they are capable of cooking. Yes, a crockpot uses a fraction of the power of an air fryer, but you tend to use it for around 6 hours on average, and you wouldn’t use it for the same foods as you would cook in an air fryer, which you might use for 15 to 20 minutes.
The same is true with a microwave. It’s the most energy-efficient cooking appliance in your home because a 1000-watt microwave might only be used for 5 minutes for some meals. This means that you’ll use just 83 watt-hours of power. But, there are many foods you simply can’t cook in a microwave!
Considering the amount of time you would likely use them for, and directly comparing them to deep fryers which are closest in terms of the type of foods you would cook, air fryers are not exceptionally energy efficient but nor do they use a lot of power either.
Does an air fryer use less electricity than an oven?
Air fryers tend to use between 1400 and 1800 watts of power, while a convection oven will use between 2000 and 5000 watts of power. The average air fryer uses 1700 watts while the average oven uses 3000 watts – so air fryers do use less power.
If you’re comparing food that you can cook in either, an air fryer will always be the more economical option.
This is not only because the air fryer uses less power while switched on, but because it also cooks food faster, so you don’t need to leave it on as long. You also don’t need to preheat it.
They aren’t perfect for every situation though, and if you need to cook multiple courses or larger batches of food, an oven might use less electricity since you can do it all at once, instead of having to use an air fryer multiple times.
The Cost To Run An Air Fryer Vs Oven
The cost of running an air fryer, against that of running an oven, will depend on what you are using it to cook – but generally, an air fryer is faster and uses less power.
Let’s use french fries as an example because they are one of the most common foods that people tend to use an air fryer for, and also one of the foods you can cook in both an air fryer or an oven (if you’re buying frozen fries).
The average air fryer uses 1700 watts of power (or 1.7 kilowatts).
Typically you only need to cook french fries in the air fryer for around 15 minutes, which means you only use a quarter of that power – 0.425 kilowatt-hours.
Assuming an average electricity cost of $0.14 per kWh, that means cooking a portion of french fries in the air fryer would cost you just under 6 cents.
The average convection oven uses 3000 watts of power (or 3 kilowatts).
Typically french fries have a cooking time of around 20 minutes in an oven, but that’s when you preheat it to the right temperature. Let’s assume you, therefore, need to power the oven for 25 minutes.
This gives you a total power used for the oven of 1.25 kilowatt-hours, which at that average cost of $0.14 per kilowatt hour, means that the same portion of french fries costs you 17.5 cents to cook – almost three times the cost.
Cooking french fries in an air fryer costs 6 cents, compared to 18 cents in an electric oven.
How much you actually save over the course of a year depends on how often you use your oven to cook foods that you can cook in an air fryer.
Not every food will be a third of the cost when you use an air fryer, but many will. Over the course of a couple of years, you could save hundreds of dollars rather than just cents on your electricity bills.
Pros And Cons Of Air Fryer Vs Oven
There are, of course, pros and cons to both air fryers and convection ovens. Air fryers are not a complete replacement for your oven, but they have some serious advantages too.
The pros of an air fryer compared to an oven are:
- Food cooks faster due to the smaller capacity – hot air can move around the food quicker, while an oven has a much larger space to fill with hot air
- Food can be crisped like with deep frying due to the fast-moving air, but without the need for lots of oil
- Air fryers don’t take up a lot of space in your kitchen
- Food is cooked more evenly – because hot air reaches the whole air fryer easily, there won’t be areas that are cooler as there are in most ovens
- Parts of an air fryer are dishwasher friendly, making the clean-up easier
The disadvantages of an air fryer are:
- Capacity is limited – you don’t have the space to cook large volumes of food if you are entertaining
- You can only cook one item at a time – some air fryers may have two compartments, but you’ll usually need to cook a main and a side dish separately
- The functions are limited, and some air fryers have a limited selection of temperature options too – air fryers don’t have the same flexibility that ovens do
- Air fryers can dry out food quickly if you aren’t careful – overcooking your food in an air fryer tends to have worse results than overcooking food in an oven for the same duration
- Air fryers can be noisy – a minor inconvenience but worth noting
Ovens definitely still have their uses, whether it’s preparing multiple meals at once or cooking larger items that you would never fit in an air fryer (the Thanksgiving turkey comes to mind immediately).
The air fryers’ biggest limitation is that they can only normally be used for one thing at a time. Newer air fryer models do have two compartments, so you can cook a main and a side dish at the same time, but capacity is still limited.
Ovens have a lot more flexibility in what you can use them for too. While air fryers may have other functions – especially more premium models – you can generally do a lot more in an oven. You wouldn’t be able to cook pizza or bake brownies in an air fryer, for example.
If you’re someone who entertains for dinner a lot, then you’ll still likely find yourself turning to your oven for most meals, since you are able to cook larger portions of food, and different types of food, often all at once.
Is it worth buying an air fryer?
Air fryers are definitely worth buying if you cook foods that benefit from this style of cooking. You can save money, and enjoy food that has that fried texture and flavor without the unhealthy oils of deep frying.
But don’t rush to buy one without planning – look at the kinds of foods you like to eat and see whether an air fryer is going to be able to help.
A cheap air fryer will cost you around $40 while a multifunctional air fryer could cost you as much as $200.
If you’re going to use an air fryer daily you might save somewhere in the region of $10-15 per year on your electricity bills, so it’ll take a long time to pay for the cost of the unit itself.
The benefits aren’t just economical for your bills though. Food cooks faster, which can save you valuable time if you have a busy lifestyle. And if you do like fried chicken or french fries, the crisp finish that an air fryer gives you is often better than that from an oven.
It likely isn’t worth buying an air fryer if you are only concerned about the cost of your bills, because while it is cheaper to run, it’ll take a long time to earn the cost of the air fryer back. But weigh up all of the pros and cons, and many people will definitely see an air fryer as worth it.
The Best Economical Air Fryer
If you’re concerned about your electricity bills, you’ll want an air fryer that uses a low amount of power.
BELLA 2.9QT Manual Air Fryer
- 2.5lb food capacity – serves 2-4 people
- Air Fry, Broil, Bake, Roast and Reheat functions
- Uses just 1400 watts of power
This BELLA air fryer has one of the lowest energy consumption of any air fryer you can buy. A typical serving of french fries will only require around 0.35 kilowatt-hours of power.
If you were to just use the air fryer to cook french fries three times a week, you would save around $5 per year compared to the average convection oven. Obviously the more you use the air fryer instead of your oven, the more energy you would be saving.
Plus, it’s a low-cost air fryer so you don’t have to worry about spending much on your initial outlay. This also helps to preserve your oven, since you’re using it less, meaning fewer repair bills or a postponed cost to replace it in future.
The Bottom Line
You can absolutely save money on your utility bills by buying an air fryer, although the air fryer won’t be able to completely replace your oven.
It comes down to your family and the food that you eat. If you eat a lot of food that’s suited to an air fryer – french fries, chicken and so on – then you’ll get more use out of it and save more money compared to your regular convection oven.
But air fryers aren’t suited to all foods, and can be limited in their portion sizes too. Your convection oven still has its uses, but an air fryer can take some of the strain, for a lower energy consumption too.