What is cheaper, cooking in a microwave or in a traditional oven or hob?
What is cheaper, cooking in a microwave or in a traditional oven or hob? Research has been carried out into the costs of the different cooking methods for various different meals*. The research compared microwave cooking with cooking with an electric oven and hob and identified that savings can be made by making greater use of a microwave for certain types of food.
The first table compares some foods traditionally cooked on a hob with a microwave oven.
|4 Portions frozen vegetables|
|Average Time taken||6 min||17 min|
|Energy consumption (kWh)||0.143||0.407|
|Energy cost||£0.022 (0.1kg)||£0.063 (0.1kg)|
|4 Portions of boiled new potatoes|
|Average Time taken||6 min 30 sec||24 min 30 sec|
|Energy consumption (kWh)||0.15||0.50|
|Energy cost||£0.023 (0.1kg)||£0.077 (0.2kg)|
|3 Portions baked beans|
|Average Time taken (mins:sec)||8 min||9 min|
|Energy consumption (kWh)||0.19||0.11|
|Energy cost||£0.029 (0.1kg)||£0.017 (0kg)|
|4 Portions of Porridge|
|Average Time taken (mins:sec)||11 min||13 min 30 sec|
|Energy consumption (kWh)||0.26||0.24|
|Energy cost||£0.04 (0.1kg)||£0.037 (0.1kg)|
The research showed that the microwave oven was more energy efficient and cheaper than the hob for foods which are usually boiled in lots of water such as vegetables. When these are cooked in a microwave only small amounts of water are needed and cooking is much quicker, whereas on a hob lots of water is used and it takes a long time to come to the boil and then cook. For heating up or warming up food such as baked beans or porridge then the hob proved to be cheaper or about the same cost.
The table below compares the costs of microwave cooking for foods traditionally cooked in the oven.
|2 Baked potatoes|
|Average Time taken||10 min||1 hour|
|Energy consumption (kWh)||0.232||0.916|
|Energy cost||£0.036 (0.1kg)||£0.141 (0.3kg)|
|Average Time taken||8 min 30 sec||30 min|
|Energy consumption (kWh)||0.20||0.62|
|Energy cost||£0.031 (0.1kg)||£0.095 (0.2kg)|
|Indian ready meal|
|Average Time taken||19 min||30 min|
|Energy consumption (kWh)||0.42||0.66|
|Energy cost||£0.065 (0.2kg)||£0.102 (0.2kg)|
|Frozen ready meal for 2|
|Average Time taken||15 min||40 min|
|Energy consumption (kWh)||0.35||0.72|
|Energy cost||£0.054 (0.1kg)||£0.111 (0.3kg)|
|Average Time taken||26 min||1 hr 30 min|
|Energy consumption (kWh)||1.02||1.32|
|Energy cost||£0.157 (0.4kg)||£0.203 (0.5kg)|
The table shows that for most meals a microwave oven is cheaper than an electric oven. Generally speaking the greater the time differences between the different cooking methods the greater the savings. However it should be noted that the advantage of the microwave oven is reduced if multiple foods/meals are cooked in a conventional oven together. For example roasting a chicken with all the vegetables at the same time as opposed to separately in a microwave. Oh and Microwave Chicken, yuk.
It should also be noted that this research only compares microwave costs with electric oven and hob costs, it did not cover gas cooking which is cheaper than electric:
|See gas cooking vs electric cooking...|
*Market Transformation Programme: BNCK07: Comparing energy use in microwave ovens with traditional electric fuelled methods