Into sustainable appliances? It’s Earth Day, so here’s a handy guide

Sustainable kitchen appliances

Look around your kitchen and count the appliances – there’ll be a few, right? Off the top of my head I can count an oven, fridge-freezer, hob, toaster, kettle, coffee machine, multicooker… and probably some more I’ve forgotten.

But which one will last the longest? Is there anything you can do to extend your appliances’ lifespan and make them a bit more sustainable? And, considering the recent energy price hike, which one is the most expensive to run?

Of course, it’s not only about money; today is Earth Day, and sustainability is an increasingly important factor for many of us. Rightly so, because we do only have one planet after all, and making sure we preserve it for future generations is a team effort. (One that does involve big corporations, too.)

Magnet – yes, the kitchen design company ­­– looked at the 20 most commonly used appliances, their lifespan, how much energy they use, and how we can make them a bit more sustainable.

Keen to take a deep dive with me into the world of truly sustainable appliances? Let’s go!

Before we get into sustainable appliances, which appliances are the most popular?

Unsurprisingly, at least to me, Magnet found that fridge-freezers are the most popular household appliances based on search volume. They’re searched more than 1.5 million times every month.

sustainable appliances
This Røroshetta Mantica hood in white, £1952, is part of a warm, classic-contemporary scheme by Magnet.

In second place is the humble kettle (which makes sense – we are a nation of tea drinkers), while the microwave comes in third.

But how long do they last?

A fridge-freezer’s average life expectancy is 10 years, while a kettle makes it to around 4.4 years – and a microwave lasts you a whole nine years.

Surprisingly, an air fryer’s average life expectancy is only around two and a half years. So if your heart’s set on this current kitchen must-have, be aware that it might need replacing a bit more frequently.

But which appliance lasts the longest, I hear you ask? Maybe unsurprisingly, it’s the gas cooker, which has an average lifespan of 15 years. That’s closely followed by the oven, tumble dryer and electric hob, which all last for around 13 years.

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Third in the lineup is a food mixer, which will last you 12.5 years. That’s a pretty long time, right?

Okay, let’s talk money – which appliance is the most expensive to run?

Magnet looked at each appliance’s power rating as well as the average electricity cost in the UK to calculate the hourly cost of running an appliance. Because of the price hikes in the last year, they’ve given us numbers for both 2021 and 2022.

Can you guess which appliance is the most expensive?

Spoiler: I’ve mentioned it. I’ll give you three seconds to guess.

sustainable appliances
Fridge-freezers are the most popular appliances – and don’t actually cost as much to run as you’d expect. This is Fisher & Paykel‘s integrated French-door fridge-freezer RS90A2, priced £3795.

Ready?

It’s the tumble dryer, which costs an average of 70p per hour. (In 2021, it would have cost you 49.08p, just to highlight how much energy prices have increased.)

Second place goes to the oven, which costs 60.2p to run, and in third place is the kettle with 58.8p. Remember though that it only takes a few minutes for a kettle to boil a litre of water.

The fridge-freezer is not only fantastically popular – as it turns out, it’s also an excellent energy saver. Of the most energy-draining appliances, it ranks 21st out of 25, with a low hourly cost of 4.2p.

And if you’re wondering which appliance will cost you the least, it’s the standalone freezer, which comes in at 1.12p an hour. Pretty cool, hey?

How much does it *actually* cost to run the appliances though?

OK, we get it. Talking averages is interesting, but doesn’t really mean anything for us as individuals, does it?

Let’s look at the appliances we’ve mentioned then. The realistic cost of running a drying cycle, for example, is 35p at least, and up to 52.5p – because usually, you’re not running it for a whole hour. You might also not run it as much.

A dishwasher, on the other hand, not only takes longer (up to 240 minutes, for an intensive cycle), it also runs a lot more frequently especially in busy household. The average cost per use, according to Magnet? A minimum of 40.95p, but it can be up to £1.51 for a long cycle.

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But what about appliances that run 24/7? A whole day of your fridge-freezer running will cost you an average of £1.01, while a separate fridge comes in at 53.76p. An individual freezer only costs 26.88p to run in the same timespan.

The cheapest to run? A blender, which racks up an average cost of 0.16 – 0.13p (yes, that comma is in the right place!) per one or two-minute cycle.

All right, but I’m here for sustainable appliances. Is there anything I can do to increase my appliances’ lifespan?

Here’s the thing: the longer you keep your tumble dryer, fridge-freezer, or other appliance, the lower its overall cost. It also avoids waste, which is better for the planet.

And making them last longer is, for the most part, not actually that hard.

Our main tip is to keep your appliances clean and in great shape. This includes using the right cleaning agents, regulalrly exchanging filters where necessary, and making sure no essential functions or outlets are blocked.

Defrosting your freezer is also absolutely essential. I know it’s nobody’s favourite chore, but we all like saving money, so c’mon, it’s worth it.

Regular maintenance helps appliances run smoothly, which will in turn help reduce your energy costs. In addition, clean spaces make us happy – so it’s a win-win.

And there’s more: make sure you dig out the manual (or find it online if it’s lost) and follow the instructions. Don’t overload washing machines or dishwashers, as it’ll make energy costs rise and can actually damage the appliances. Don’t needlessly boil a full kettle, but only heat as much water as you need.

And if you can, repair appliances instead of replacing them. The Right To Repair bill has made this easier, too – because if we all do a little to be more sustainable, it can make a big impact.

Voila! Your guide to truly sustainable appliances. The Earth and your pocket will thank us.

Featured image: Everhot Yellow Electric Plug In Stove with Oven, £1350, Quince & Cook.

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