Cheapest Kitchen Appliances to Run – Experts Reveal the 4 Best Options for an Energy-Efficient Kitchen

Kitchen appliances account for a significant portion of energy use in homes. With rising energy costs, many homeowners are looking for ways to cut down on their monthly utility bills. The good news is that there are several inexpensive appliances that can help create an energy-efficient kitchen without breaking the bank.

In this comprehensive guide, kitchen appliance experts reveal the 4 cheapest appliances to run that will dramatically lower your energy usage and costs, while still providing maximum functionality. Read on to discover the most energy and cost-efficient options when selecting essential kitchen appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens and cooktops.


The refrigerator is one of the most used appliances in the kitchen. It runs 24/7 to preserve your food, making it also one of the biggest energy consuming appliances in your home. When shopping for an energy-efficient refrigerator, there are a few key features to look out for.

Top-Freezer Refrigerators

Top-freezer refrigerators are the most affordable refrigerator style. They also use significantly less energy than their bottom-freezer and side-by-side counterparts.

In a top-freezer refrigerator, the freezer is located in the top section, while the refrigerator portion is below. This configuration requires less energy to run as cold air sinks down, meaning less cool air escapes when the door is opened.

Models with through-the-door ice also help save energy by eliminating the need to open the freezer door for ice. Look for Energy Star certified models for the best energy efficiency.

Smaller Capacity

The larger and more spacious a refrigerator is, the more energy it requires to run. Downsizing to a smaller refrigerator of 10 to 15 cubic feet for modest households can lead to substantial energy savings.

Make sure to consider your household size and food storage needs. But if you don’t cook often or stock a lot of frozen foods, a smaller fridge may meet your needs while using much less electricity.

Manual Defrost

Manual defrost refrigerators require defrosting by hand occasionally rather than using heating elements to automatically defrost. This avoids energy use for defrost cycles, though manual defrosting is more labor intensive.

If you want to avoid frequent manual defrosting, look for automatic defrost models with shorter, time-initiated defrost cycles which use less energy than temperature-initiated models. Avoid models with defrost cycles longer than 10 minutes.

Top Tips for an Energy Efficient Refrigerator:

  • Choose a top-freezer style: Uses less energy than bottom-freezer or side-by-side.
  • Opt for a smaller capacity: 10-15 cubic feet is best for small households.
  • Consider manual defrost models: Avoid energy for defrost cycles.
  • Look for Energy Star certified models: Ensures optimal efficiency.
  • Avoid large or double door models: Larger size uses more electricity.


Dishwashers are a huge time saver and also use less water than hand washing dishes. But to find the most energy efficient dishwasher, you’ll want to look for these key features:

Water Heater Connection

For maximum efficiency, look for dishwashers with a water heater connection. These models hook up directly to your home’s hot water supply and save energy by not having to heat the water internally before each cycle.

This provides hotter water for better cleaning performance while using less electricity. Just take note that it may increase your water heating costs slightly.

Energy Star Certified

Choosing an Energy Star rated dishwasher ensures you are getting one of the most energy efficient models on the market.

Energy Star dishwashers use advanced technology like soil sensors to optimize and shorten cycle times when dishes are cleaner sooner. This saves both water and electricity.

Top Rack Only Mode

Having a top rack only wash mode allows you to run smaller loads and use less energy when you don’t have full loads. This cycle uses less water and avoids heating the larger tub when it’s not needed.

Other Efficiency Features:

  • Opt for fewer wash cycles: The fewer cycle options, the more efficient the dishwasher.
  • Choose a smaller model: Compact models use less energy and water.
  • Let dishes air dry: Skip energy-intensive heated dry cycles and just open the dishwasher after the final rinse to let dishes air dry.
  • Clean filter regularly: A clean filter improves efficiency.
  • Don’t pre-rinse dishes: Modern dishwashers are designed to loosen food residue without pre-rinsing.

Top Energy Efficient Dishwasher Tips:

  • Connect to a hot water supply to avoid internal water heating.
  • Look for Energy Star certified models.
  • Choose a model with a top rack only cycle.
  • Opt for fewer wash cycles and a compact size.
  • Let dishes air dry and clean the filter regularly.
  • Avoid pre-rinsing dishes before loading.

Ovens and Cooktops

Ovens and cooktops allow you to prepare delicious home cooked meals, but they can also be energy guzzlers if you don’t choose efficient models. Here are the best options for energy savings:

Convection Ovens

Convection ovens include a fan that circulates hot air around the oven cavity. This allows food to cook faster by 20-30% at a lower temperature.

The shorter cooking time and lower heat setting save electricity. Convection ovens cost slightly more than regular ovens, but provide faster cooking and long term energy savings.

Induction Cooktops

Induction cooktops use magnets to directly heat pans rather than heating the cooktop surface. This allows for faster, more energy efficient cooking.

Induction only heats the pan rather than inefficiently heating the surrounding air or cooktop. They are 90% efficient compared to just 60% for electric cooktops. Induction also provides faster heating, cooling, and instant control of temperatures.

Natural Gas Cooktops

For traditional cooktops, natural gas models are more energy efficient than electric models. Gas burners heat cookware directly rather than inefficiently heating the cooktop surface or surrounding air.

Look for models with an automatic re-igniter so the pilot light only comes on when you are cooking to maximize efficiency.

Combination Ovens

Combination ovens offer the versatility of both regular and convection oven functions. Many also include a microwave mode that allows using just that energy efficient microwave function when cooking smaller dishes.

This allows you to save energy by selecting just the operating mode needed for the food you’re cooking.

Top Energy Efficient Oven and Cooktop Tips:

  • Choose a convection oven for efficient cooking.
  • Opt for an induction cooktop for fastest, most energy efficient cooking.
  • Select a natural gas cooktop over electric models.
  • Look for ovens with combination regular, convection, and microwave modes.
  • Match the oven mode to the dish for efficient cooking.


The microwave is one of the most energy efficient cooking appliances, using significantly less energy than a conventional oven. Here are the top factors to consider when selecting an energy efficient microwave:


Microwave wattage indicates the power level. While higher wattage microwaves cook faster, lower wattage models use less electricity. Optimize efficiency by matching the wattage level to your cooking needs.

900-1000W – Best for cooking larger portions or foods that need more heat like meats.

600-800W – The sweet spot for most household microwaving needs.

300-500W – Best for occasional reheating tasks or defrosting.


Compact and small microwaves are the most energy efficient models. Larger capacity ovens tend to have higher wattages that use more electricity for faster cooking.

Opt for a compact microwave around 0.5 to 0.9 cubic feet if you mostly need to reheat leftovers or heat small portions. Only size up if you cook large dishes or multiple items regularly.

Eco Modes

Some microwaves now include eco modes that use less power. These settings may take slightly longer to cook, but use up to 25% less energy for reheating tasks.

Top Energy Efficient Microwave Tips:

  • Choose lower wattage models from 300-800W.
  • Opt for smaller, compact capacity sizes.
  • Use eco modes to conserve energy when possible.
  • Match wattage level to your cooking needs.
  • Only use microwave-safe dishes to optimize efficiency.

FAQs About Energy Efficient Kitchen Appliances

What uses the most electricity in the kitchen?

The refrigerator is the largest electricity user, accounting for up to 15% of household energy costs. The next biggest users are dishwashers, ovens, and cooktops. Focus on choosing efficient models of these appliances for the biggest energy savings.

How much can I save by choosing energy efficient appliances?

You can save 30% or more on your utility bills by choosing the most efficient kitchen appliances. Exact savings will depend on your current appliances, usage levels, energy costs in your area, and the efficiency of the new appliances you select.

What should I look for when shopping for an energy efficient appliance?

Key things to look for are Energy Star certification, lower wattages, smaller sizes, indicator lights for activity, eco modes, and technology features designed to optimize energy and water use.

Should I replace old but still functioning appliances?

If your appliances are over 10 years old, replacing them with new ENERGY STAR models can provide significant savings that make upgrade costs worthwhile. Newer appliances can be up to 30-50% more efficient than those made even 5-10 years ago.

How much does an energy efficient appliance cost?

Efficient appliances often cost $25 to $75 more than standard models. But the energy savings provide a quick payback in 2 years or less in most cases. Over a decade, savings of a few hundred dollars per appliance are common.

Should I use the air fryer function on my oven?

Only use air fry functions occasionally, not daily, as they use a lot of energy. A separate small countertop air fryer is more energy efficient if you plan to air fry frequently.

Key Takeaways on the Cheapest Appliances to Run

  • Refrigerators: Choose top-freezer style, smaller capacity, manual defrost models for maximum efficiency.
  • Dishwashers: Look for direct water heater connection, Energy Star rating, top rack only mode.
  • Ovens: Opt for convection ovens or combination models with microwave function.
  • Cooktops: Induction or natural gas models are most efficient.
  • Microwaves: Get lower wattage units around 600-800W and compact sizes.

Selecting the most energy efficient appliances may require a slightly higher upfront investment, but the long term energy savings are worthwhile. The appliances covered above offer maximum functionality while using the least amount of electricity to save you money.

Making smart appliance choices along with adjustments like letting dishes air dry or matching oven modes to recipes are simple ways to go green and cut utility costs in the kitchen. Use this guide to help choose efficiency when upgrading kitchen appliances. An energy-efficient kitchen is better for the environment and your wallet!


Choosing energy efficient kitchen appliances can lead to significant savings on utility bills over time. While upfront costs may be slightly higher, the long term savings in energy use make it a worthwhile investment.

Follow the tips outlined to look for ENERGY STAR rated models with optimized features when selecting essential kitchen appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, cooktops and microwaves. Prioritize good functionality along with energy optimization to reap the rewards of efficiency without sacrificing convenience.

Small upgrades can have a measurable impact. An energy efficient kitchen uses less electricity, saves money on bills, and reduces your environmental footprint. Apply these expert tips so you can gain peace of mind knowing you are using kitchen appliances that tread lightly on the environment and your budget.