Are Air Fryers Energy Efficient? Get the Lowdown

Air fryers have become increasingly popular in recent years as a healthy alternative to traditional deep frying. But are these trendy kitchen appliances actually energy efficient? Here’s the lowdown on whether air fryers are a smart choice for your home and wallet.

How Air Fryers Work

Air fryers use rapid air circulation technology to crisp up your favorite foods using little to no oil. A heating element and fan quickly circulate hot air around the food at high speeds, essentially air frying the surface to achieve that crispy texture.

The rapid airflow allows food to cook fast, similar to a convection oven. Air fryers can cook foods up to 40% faster than conventional ovens. This convection process requires constant heat and air circulation, which demands more electricity than other appliances.

Air fryers range in wattage from 800 to 1800 watts on average. The wattage required depends on the size, features, and cooking capacity. For reference, a typical home oven uses around 2000-5000 watts. While air fryers use less energy than ovens, the tradeoff is smaller capacity.

So do the faster cook times and lower heat output make up for the constant fan blowing? Let’s take a closer look at how energy efficient air fryers really are.

Air Fryer Energy Use Factors

Several factors come into play when determining the energy efficiency and operating costs of an air fryer:


Higher wattage models will use more electricity to power the heating element and fan motor. Most standard-size air fryers are in the 1000 to 1500 watt range. Smaller personal air fryers can be 800-1200 watts, while larger models go up to 1800+ watts.


Larger air fryers allow you to cook bigger batches of food at once. However, a bigger basket requires more constant heat and air circulation, using more energy in the process.

Frequency of Use

The more often you use an air fryer, the higher your energy costs will be. Baking weekly fries and nuggets will take more electricity than occasional use.

Electricity Costs

The cost per kilowatt hour varies significantly across states, from around 10 cents up to 30+ cents per kWh. If you pay more for electricity, operating an air fryer will have higher running costs.

Air Fryer Model and Features

Advanced models with digital screens, presets, and added functions will use more standby and active energy. convection fans and elements.

With these factors in mind, let’s compare air fryer electricity usage to other appliances.

Air Fryers vs. Ovens, Toaster Ovens, and Microwaves

Air fryers promote their quicker cooking times and lower temperatures as energy efficient attributes. But how do they stack up to similar small kitchen appliances?

Vs. Ovens

A standard home oven is the least energy efficient cooking option. They use 5000+ watts of electricity to maintain temperatures up to 500°F. Ovens take significantly longer to preheat and cook food. However, they can handle much larger batches than an air fryer.

For smaller loads, an air fryer can be over 75% more energy efficient than a full-size oven. You can safely cook up to 2 pounds of food in most air fryers, ideal for 1-4 portions. The faster cook time and focused convection heat reduces energy usage.

Vs. Toaster Ovens

Toaster ovens are a middle ground option between full ovens and air fryers. They preheat quicker than ovens and use less energy at around 1800W. However, toaster ovens still rely on wide-range heat, taking 10-25 minutes on average to cook foods versus 5-15 minutes in an air fryer.

Air fryers generally use 25-50% less electricity than the average toaster oven, depending on wattage and capacity. For quick single or double portion cooking, an air fryer may be more energy efficient. But toaster ovens have more versatility for baking and broiling.

Vs. Microwaves

Microwaves use radiation to cook food very quickly, using relatively low electricity from 500 to 1500W. However, they don’t achieve the crispy texture of an air fryer. Most microwaves have lower wattage than air fryers, but need to run continuously versus the cycling on and off of air fryer motors.

Microwaves and air fryers have comparable energy usage for small loads. Air fryers may be slightly more efficient for frying and crisping with their rapid hot air flow. But microwaves have the efficiency edge for reheating leftovers or steaming veggies.

Estimated Hourly Energy Use of Air Fryers

Based on average wattages and cooking times, we can estimate how much electricity an air fryer may use per hour:

  • Small 3.4qt air fryer at 1200W: Uses around 0.6 – 0.8 kWh for 30-50 minutes of cooking time.
  • Medium 5.3qt air fryer at 1500W: Uses approximately 0.75 – 1 kWh for 30-60 minutes.
  • Large 10qt air fryer at 1700W: Estimated to use around 1 – 1.25 kWh for 30-75 minutes.

These are rough estimates only, but help give a realistic idea of potential hourly energy usage of air fryers based on size. The actual electricity costs will depend on your energy rate.

Tips to Use Your Air Fryer More Efficiently

While air fryers are relatively energy efficient for small batch cooking, there are ways to maximize their efficiency:

  • Don’t preheat longer than 3 minutes – Most foods don’t require more than a quick warm up. Long preheating wastes energy.
  • Avoid opening the basket mid-cycle – Heat escapes every time you open it, forcing the fryer to reheat and use more energy.
  • Fill the basket fully – Cook more portions at once instead of multiple small batches.
  • Turn off immediately when finished – Don’t leave an air fryer idling between batches.
  • Use timer settings – Take the guesswork out of cook times. Set timers to avoid running longer than needed.
  • Clean the filter regularly – A clean filter allows optimal airflow so the fan and heater don’t work harder than necessary.

Are Air Fryers Worth the Operating Costs?

Air fryers use more energy than a microwave but less than a full oven. The operating costs depend on your electricity rate and how often you use it.

Based on average electricity costs, a mid-size air fryer costs around 5-10 cents per hour to run. If you made three 30-minute air-fried meals per week, estimated annual costs would be $10-$15.

While not free to operate, air fryers can create quick and healthy meals at a fraction of the time and energy of firing up the big oven. For most households who don’t use them daily, the operating costs are reasonable.

The small capacity and faster cook times make air fryers a good energy-saving choice for cooking smaller portion sizes. When buying, look for an appropriately-sized model for your needs to maximize efficiency.

Are Air Fryers Energy Efficient? The Bottom Line

Air fryers require constant rapid air circulation and heat to cook foods, demanding more electricity than other small appliances. However, they cook faster than traditional ovens with lower overall energy use.

For quick cooking up to 2 pounds of food, air fryers can be over 75% more energy efficient than large ovens. They are comparable or somewhat more efficient than toaster ovens and microwaves for single serving cooking.

Typical air fryers use 0.6 – 1.25 kWh for 30-75 minutes of cooking time, depending on capacity. Estimated operating costs are just $10-$15 annually for occasional use, but add up with daily usage.

No cooking appliance is free to operate, including air fryers. But their focused convection cooking makes them one of the most energy efficient options for quick small batch frying and crisping. Just be sure to maximize efficiency by not overloading capacity, preheating longer than needed, and cleaning the filter regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Air Fryer Energy Use

Air fryers are growing in popularity for their ability to create crispy “fried” foods with minimal oil. But many wonder if the energy costs outweigh the benefits of using one. Here are answers to the most common questions about air fryer energy efficiency.

Are air fryers more energy efficient than ovens?

Yes, air fryers are considerably more energy efficient than full-size conventional ovens. Ovens use up to 5000W and must preheat for longer periods, while air fryers use 1000-1800W and preheat within minutes. For cooking smaller portions, air fryers can be over 75% more efficient than large ovens.

Do air fryers use a lot of electricity?

Air fryers use more electricty than slow cookers or microwaves because of the constant heat and fan circulation. However, they typically use less energy than oven ranges and toaster ovens for cooking similar portion sizes. Larger air fryer models over 10 quarts will have higher energy demands.

Is it cheaper to use an air fryer or oven?

Air fryers are cheaper to run than full-size ovens for smaller loads of 1-4 portions. The combination of lower wattage and faster preheating makes air frying more energy and cost efficient. Ovens can cook more food at once, but less efficiently for smaller batches.

Do air fryers consume more electricity than a microwave?

Microwaves generally use less electricity at lower wattages of 500-1200W. However, microwaves must run continuously versus the on/off cycling of air fryers. So for cooking methods like frying, air fryers may be slightly more efficient than microwaves.

Should I unplug my air fryer when not in use?

It’s advisable to unplug small appliances like air fryers when not in use to avoid phantom energy draw. Digital air fryers with displays and electronic controls can slowly drain energy even when turned “off” unless unplugged.

Do air fryers use electricity when plugged in but not on?

Most air fryers will use a small amount of standby or phantom energy when plugged in but not powered on. Advanced models with digital screens and added features require electricity continuously to power the lights and display.

How many watts does an average air fryer use?

The average mid-size air fryer uses between 1200-1500 watts. Small personal air fryers can be 800-1200W, while large models exceed 1500+ watts depending on capacity and settings. Higher wattage demands more electricity during cooking.

What uses less electricity: air fryer or instant pot?

Air fryers generally use more electricity than instant pots because of the constant heat and air circulation needed to “fry” foods. Instant pots use less energy especially for slow cooking, but air fryer function is more efficient than pressure cooking.

Do you really save energy by using an air fryer?

Air fryers can save home cooks energy when used properly. Their small capacity and quicker cooking makes them over 75% more efficient than ovens for 1-4 portion meals. But air fryers lose efficiency benefits when run longer than needed for small loads.

In Conclusion

While no cooking appliance is completely energy free, air fryers can be one of the most electricity efficient options for preparing quick single portion or small batch meals. The focused, rapid convection heat allows air fryers to cook foods up to 75% faster than full-size ovens using significantly less energy in the process.

For those looking to reduce their home energy usage, air fryers can be an eco-friendly alternative to firing up the big oven. Just be mindful of overusing and overloading the capacity, which reduces their efficiency benefit. With mindful usage, air fryers can be an energy and cost-saving small appliance addition to any home chef’s kitchen.