Slow cookers are a great simple way to make healthy nutritious meals, but given they have to be on for are they expensive to run?
How much does a slow cooker cost to run? and how does that compare to a stove top or oven?
Slow cookers don't cost a lot to run. For an 8 hour cooking time they only use roughly 1.2-1.7 kWh of electricity. Average electricity costs are around $0.13/kWh so to cook a meal in a slow cooker costs roughly 16-22 cents.
Depending on what state you're in you could pay different amounts for electricity.
At the time of writing Louisiana was the cheapest state at 9.66c/kWh and Hawaii was the most expensive state at 30.94c/kWh. An average price seemed to be around the 12-15c/kWh mark.
For cheap Louisiana an 8 hour slow cooked meal costs only 12-16 cents approximately. For expensive Hawaii the price jumps to 37-53 cents. Still an extremely affordable price per meal.
Is a Slow Cooker Expensive To Run?
As you can see it doesn't cost a lot of money to run a slow cooker.
A slow cooker is not expensive to run. At roughly 150-210 Watts they only cost around 2-3 cents per hour to run. A meal cooked over 8 hours costs between 12-53 cents depending on your slow cooker and electricity costs.
For pretty much everyone 53 cents to cook a meal isn't that expensive.
And that's assuming you're running your slow cooker on high for 8 hours, which you're unlikely to do AND it's also assuming you're paying about 30 cents per kWh for electricity, which is only really true in Hawaii.
Most people pay on average around 12-15 cents per kWh of electricity.
Generally when using a slow cooker you'll use a low setting if cooking for 8 hours or a high setting if cooking for 3-4 hours. This means energy usage will be lower than above and thus will cost even less per meal to run.
Slow cookers are actually one of the most economical and cheap ways to cook a meal.
What Is The Best Wattage For a Slow Cooker?
There are so many different brands of slow cookers out there and there are lots of different settings with different wattages. What is the best wattage for a slow cooker and which one should you get.
Slow cookers range in wattage from around 70-100 Watts (low temp), 150 Watts (medium temp) to 210-250 (high temp). You'll at lease want to get a slow cooker with a wattage around 150-210 Watts, but a little higher or lower is fine.
If you're seeing a slow cooker that is drawing a lot more Watts than this then it's going to be more expensive to run.
Some pressure cookers these days are also slow cookers and they often have an higher advertised wattage for pressure cooking but it's likely they use a lower wattage when slow cooking.
You'll need to refer to the instruction manuals of the fine print to work out how much power they use when slow cooking.
Do Slow Cookers Use Much Power?
We all know that running an electric heater all day gets expensive as it uses A LOT of power. But what about slow cookers? Do slow cookers use much power in order to heat your food?
Slow cookers don't use much power to cook your food. The combination of lower cooking temp, insulated body and lid that doesn't let steam evaporate keeps power usage lower. They generally draw around 150-210 Watts and use about 1.2-1.7 kWh to cook a meal. That's not much.
Compare this to a stove or an oven and you'll start to see that slow cookers can actually be a cheaper and more energy efficient way to make meals.
Is It Cheaper To Use a Slow Cooker Or An Oven?
I've written an entire article on slow cooker vs oven energy consumption and did that math on which uses less electricity.
It turns out a slow cooker is way more energy efficent than an oven.
An oven is much more expensive to run than a slow cooker. A slow cooker uses 1.2-1.7 kWh (16-22 cents) to cook a meal for 8 hours, an oven uses on average 2.4 kWh (31 cents) PER HOUR. An oven likely uses more energy pre-heating than a slow cooker uses cooking an entire meal.
Ovens vary in how much electricity they use and thus how much they cost to run. They usually range from 1000-5000 Watts with the average being 2400 Watts.
Slow cookers on the other hand only use between 75-210 Watts of power depending on the setting.
Cooking something on medium for 6 hours in a slow cooker is roughly 0.9 kWh (150 Watts x 6 hours = 900 Wh).
Pre-heating an oven for half an hour uses approximately 1.2 kWh (2400 Watts x 0.5 hours = 1200 Wh). This is more power than the slow cooker used to make the entire meal.
Then add it a 2-3 hour cooking time and you're looking at somewhere around 6-8.5 kWh to cook a meal in the oven. That's $0.78-$1.10 for the oven vs $0.12 for the slow cooker.
So as you can see slow cookers use a lot less electricity than an oven and cost a lot less per hour to run as well as costing a lot less per meal to run.
Do Slow Cookers Take Up a Lot of Electricity?
Is a Slow Cooker Energy Efficient?
A slow cooker is one of the most energy efficient ways to cook a meal. They draw only 75-210 Watts of power and use just 1.2-1.7 kWh or less per meal. This is way less than ovens (2.4 kWh per hour) and stoves (1.5-2 kWh/hour).
So if you want to save money on your electricity bill and cook a healthy and nutritious meal then slow cookers are a great way to do this.
Even thermal cookers which have no electric power source, but are just insulated to cook over a long period of time, use more power to cook meals than a slow cooker. This is because you have to bring the food to boil first on the stove and this uses lots of electricity.
But thermal cookers are also very energy efficient ways to cook meals and they are completely portable which slow cookers aren't. Read my full thermal cooker vs slow cooker comparison.
What Temperature Is Slow Cooking on Low?
Newer and fancier slow cookers have a range of settings but some of the most affordable options just have low, medium and high.
You might be wondering what temperature a slow cooker cooks at when set to low? It is even hot enough to cook your food.
A slow cooker set to low will cook at approximately 190-200ºF (88-93ºC) an when set to high it'll cook around 300ºF (150ºC). Temperatures may vary based on manufacturer.
If your slow cooker is cooking below 185ºC this is generally considered to be too cold to cook adequately and you may need to replace your slow cooker, or just not use the low setting anymore.
How To Check The Temperature Of Your Slow Cooker?
If you want to check the temperature of your slow cooker then that's easy to do.
To check the temperature your slow cook cooks at fill it with 2-4 quarts of water. Heat on low for the desired cooking time then lift the lid slightly and use a thermometer to quickly check the temperature. Do it fast because the temperature will drop with the lid left open
On a low setting the temperature of the water should be between 190-200ºF (88-93ºC). If the temperature is below then this it may suggest your slow cooker doesn't heat food fast enough and could lead to problems with food spoilage or bacteria in your food.