Slow cookers come in really handy. All you have to do to prepare a hearty, healthy meal is chuck all your ingredients in a pot and let the cooker work its magic.
I use mine on a regular basis, particularly in the winter for a nice warming stew or curry.
Using it got me thinking – are slow cookers energy efficient or not?
Yes, slow cookers are energy efficient and one of the most economical kitchen appliances you can use.
This article will take a look at slow cooker energy efficiency in a little more detail, as well as their electricity use, benefits and potential downsides.
- Are slow cookers energy efficient?
- How do slow cookers work?
- Benefits of using a slow cooker
- Do slow cookers use a lot of electricity?
- Slow cooker energy efficiency
- Are slow cookers economical?
- How hot do slow cookers get?
- What about the downsides of a slow cooker?
- Are slow cookers safe or toxic?
- Wrap up on are slow cookers energy efficient?
Are slow cookers energy efficient?
They are a convenient appliance for busy people, but are slow cookers energy efficient too?
Electric slow cookers are considered one of the most money-saving and energy-efficient cooking appliances you can use in your kitchen.
This is because they use a lot less electricity than a conventional electric oven stove while providing, more or less, the same performance.
Let’s take a deeper look at how slow cookers work and how to tell if they’re the right option for your green eco friendly home!
How do slow cookers work?
As the name suggests, the main feature of a slow cooker is that it can simmer food on low heat for long periods of time.
So you can prepare your ingredients in the morning, let them simmer for hours, and come back to a fully cooked meal by the time you’re home from work!
Slow cookers consist of a heating base within the outer casing, a vessel, and a glass lid. The vessel is simply the pot where food gets placed for cooking, usually made of ceramic and aluminium to keep the heat stable and constant for hours.
The basic heating mechanism is quite simple too.
As heat emanates from the base’s heating coils and works its way up the sides of the vessel, the food slowly heats up. The steam generated from the heat creates a solid vacuum seal.
It’s thanks to this constant steam and low temperatures that the food cooked in a slow cooker is able to retain its moisture after hours of cooking, without the liquid evaporating completely. Very clever.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need liquid to cook with a slow cooking appliance, as you can also use dry heat for cooking potatoes and meat!
Benefits of using a slow cooker
So, why have slow cookers so popular in recent years and what are the benefits of using them?
Of course, the most glaring benefit comes down to convenience. Making meals with a slow cooker allows you to ‘set it and forget it’ and keep your food moist and warm until you’re ready to eat.
Here are the main benefits of a slow cooker:
- Use less electricity
- Little washing up
- Get a good meal!
On the last couple of points, the quality and flavour of meals you get from a slow cooker is fantastic. I love taking some leftovers into work the next day in my stainless steel lunch box – something I always look forward to!
The often unseen benefit is that there’s little washing up. As the pot tends to be ceramic, it’s very easy to clean with a good eco friendly sponge and washing up liquid.
Do slow cookers use a lot of electricity?
Time convenience and less washing up may not be the only benefits. A burning question you no doubt have it do slow cookers use a lot of electricity and are they economical?
Yes, slow cookers are an economical way to cook and do not use a lot of energy.
Compared to a conventional oven, a slow cooker requires less energy and is a much more economical way to cook.
Slow cooker energy consumption
On average, a slow cooker uses between 75 and 150 watts of electricity on a low setting. On the highest setting a slow cooker uses upwards of 200 watts of energy.
As slow cookers are energy-efficient appliances, they also come with the key environmental benefit of saving precious energy every time you cook.
At the other end of the appliance spectrum, you have energy hungry tumble dryers. Previously power guzzling refrigerators are now being replaced by energy efficient fridge freezers.
Slow cooker energy efficiency
Let’s take a closer look at slow cooker energy efficiency.
It’s estimated that the average slow cooker uses around 1,300W over eight hours of cooking time. Just about as much energy as a light bulb!
Slow cooker vs electric oven
In comparison, electric ovens consume an average of 2,000W for every hour they’re being used on medium or high heat, while electric stoves are estimated to consume between 1,200 to 2,500W per hour. This of course depends on the size of the stove burners used.
However, that means that slow cookers are 10 times more efficient than electric ovens and at least six times more efficient that electric stoves.
The only comparable kitchen appliance in terms of efficiency is the microwave. This is because microwaves have an efficiency heating mechanism and are only in use for short period of times. Find out more on are microwaves energy efficient here.
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Are slow cookers economical?
Yes, slow cookers are an excellent, economical and eco-friendly choice.
As shown with the comparisons to ovens and electric stoves, slow cookers are many, many more times as economical.
Over the course of a year, this will save a lot of household energy use and help to lower your bills. This is similar to how a good energy efficient kettle will help you save energy and money over the long run.
So yes, a strong vote for economical slow cookers.
How hot do slow cookers get?
The vast majority of cookers also come with two or three different temperature settings ranging from low to high. The highest temperature tends to be around 200 Fahrenheit or 90 degrees Celsius.
The best temperature for your cooking needs will depend on what type of dish you’re making.
Soups and slow-cooked roasts are usually better cooked on low heat, while stews tend to do better on high heat.
What about the downsides of a slow cooker?
Still, slow cookers have a few downsides too. This mostly relates to convenience rather than energy consumption.
As the name suggests, slow cookers can’t cook anything fast, so if you’re pressed on time and don’t really plan your meals in advance, they might not be the best choice for grabbing a quick bite.
And since slow cookers’ cooking time spans between four and eight hours, you will realistically only get one full meal a day out of your appliance. A way around this is to batch cook and freeze your meals over the weekend.
Slow cooking is also not a good cooking method for large number of dishes, meaning you’ll likely only going to use your cooker for soups, stews, and chillis — you can only dry cook ingredients that already have moisture in them, like meats and starchy vegetables.
So, even though slow cookers are energy-efficient and much more eco-friendly than oven stoves, they might not necessarily fit your cooking preferences and taste in meals.
Are slow cookers safe or toxic?
In addition, there have been some concerns when it comes to the safety on these appliances. It’s been suggested that 20% of slow cookers’ ceramic vessels has been found to leech a measurable amount of lead and other chemicals into the food.
Ceramic glazes, in general, have been found to leech harmful heavy metals like cadmium and lead once scratched or damaged over time.
So, should we really be concerned about the toxicity of slow cookers?
While the figures might sound alarming, there still isn’t enough research and peer-reviewed studies to confirm the presence of heavy metals and their impact on our health.
On top of that, there are plenty of other options for cooking vessels you can choose from if you want to avoid ceramic and aluminium, such as stainless steel and heavy stoneware.
Also, you should keep in mind that just as a reminder, your conventional non-stick pan and pots can present the same problem!
Wrap up on are slow cookers energy efficient?
The answer to are slow cookers energy efficient is a big yes!
As the average cost of living rises alongside the increased awareness of our environmental impact, slow cookers are becoming the first choice of cooking appliance for a greener home. This is alongside the likes of energy efficient boiling water taps, LED light bulbs and eco friendly kettles.
And while they’re definitely not suited for everyone, slow cookers are energy-efficient and economical enough that you might want to tweak your cooking and eating habits just to make space for them.
You might discover that cooking your meals in batches and planning in advance can make you eat healthier and more efficient without even trying.
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I’m the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home. Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.