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14 Apr 2022

Cost of running inefficient appliances increasing by more than £130 each year

Which? energy testing shows the additional annual cost of owning an energy-hungry appliance compared with one that's energy-efficient

The new energy price cap increase on 1 April will hit those with inefficient appliances much harder than those with efficient ones. The cost of running the most energy-hungry fridge-freezer, tumble dryer, washing machine and dishwasher will go up by £138 - from £414 to £552.

In comparison, the price hike for more energy-efficient products is just £41, almost £100 less.

All our energy cost data comes from our independent lab testing; every appliance we review is tested in real-world scenarios to measure how much energy it will truly cost to run. We see big differences between seemingly identical A-rated machines, and even B and C-rated machines that cost less to run.

Find out how much you could be saving with an energy-efficient fridge-freezer, tumble dryer, washing machine and dishwasher, what you need to know about the estimated lifetime cost of your appliances and how you can save money with our energy-saving tips.

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Appliance running cost increasing by £77 on average

The price of energy is increasing and the cost of running appliances is rising by £77 on average, but it will depend on how efficient your appliances are and how often you use them.

Those with inefficient appliances will see the annual charge go up by £138 more each year, but efficient appliances will add just £41.

AppliancePre-price rise average running cost (21p/kWh)Post-price rise average running cost (28p/kWh)Increase
Tumble dryers£54.81£73.08£18.27
Washing machines£47.50£63.33£15.83

To understand more on why this is happening, take a look at why energy direct debits are so high.

Energy-hungry fridge-freezers now cost £179 to run each year

Fridge-freezers are the most expensive appliances to run. They're on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Yet our testing reveals that some use less than a quarter of the energy than others.

The cheapest to run from our tests is the LG GBB92MCBAP, which will cost £40.63 annually under the new 28p per kWh price cap.

The most expensive to run is the Hotpoint FFU3D W 1 or FFU3D X 1 (pictured above), which will cost a staggering £178.66.

The Hotpoint models are cheaper to buy, available for around £500, but when you take into account the energy cost over 18 years (our estimate lifetime) the total cost is £3,766.

The LG costs around £1,000 more upfront, but its running costs over 18 years are dramatically lower so total costs are £1,535 less than the Hotpoints' at £2,231.

  • Lowest annual running cost £40.63: LG GBB92MCBAP. Purchase cost of £1,500. Lifetime cost of £2,231 (over 18 years)
  • Highest annual running cost£178.66: Hotpoint FFU3D W 1 and FFU3D X 1. Purchase cost of £500. Lifetime cost of £3,766 (over 18 years)

You can see the energy cost and lifetime cost of all Which? tested and available models with our fridge-freezer running cost tool.

Energy-saving tip: Don't overfill your fridge or you'll stop air from circulating around the compartments and it will have to work harder to keep everything cold.

Costliest tumble dryer now £175 a year

Tumble dryers can be the most energy-intensive appliance in your home.

Our running costs are based on drying a full load of cottons three times a week. The most expensive, the Beko DTBC10001 (pictured above), costs about £1.12 per load or £175 over a whole year.

Opting for any heat pump dryer will cut energy use in half on average. But the most efficient is particularly impressive.

The Miele TCB140 WP and TSB143 WP cost 24p a load, or just £38.04 for a full year's use.

  • Lowest annual running cost£38.04: Miele TCB140 WP and TSB143 WP. Purchase cost of £799. Lifetime cost of £1,560 (over 20 years)
  • Highest annual running cost £174.67: Beko DTBC10001. Purchase cost of £300. Lifetime cost of £3,701 (over 20 years)

You can see the energy cost and lifetime cost of all Which? tested and available models with our tumble dryer running cost tool.

Energy-saving tip: Try to keep tumble drying to a minimum, but also regularly clean the lint filter to help your dryer run as efficiently as possible.

Dishwasher energy efficiency

Most of us use our dishwashers almost every day. And while our testing has shown that dishwashers can use less water than hand washing, their energy use remains high.

Comparing full-sized models, the most efficient is the Hisense HS620D10WUK. The main program is an eco wash, which if you run five times a week would contribute £60.51 to your energy bills annually.

The most energy-hungry, the Candy CYF 6F52LNW-80 (pictured above) uses 70% more energy, adding £104.40 annually.

  • Lowest annual running cost £60.51: Hisense HS620D10WUK. Purchase cost of £349. Lifetime cost of £1,378 (over 17 years)
  • Highest annual running cost £104.40: Candy CYF 6F52LNW-80. Purchase cost of £280. Lifetime cost of £2,055 (over 17 years)

You can see the energy cost and lifetime cost of all Which? tested and available models with our dishwasher running cost tool.

Energy-saving tip: Only put your dishwasher on when it's full and opt for the eco wash, it typically uses 30% less energy and water.

Should you get an efficient washing machine?

Unlike many other appliances, energy and water use is critical in order for washing machines to do a good job.

Those that tend to use more energy and water also tend to wash and rinse better, while those that are efficient leave lacklustre results.

The most efficient, the Ebac AWM86D2H and AWM74D2H, would cost just £25.61 per year to run the main cotton wash at 40°C four times a week.

Compare this to the Whirlpool W8W946WRUK (pictured above), which uses almost four times as much energy, adding £94.60 annually.

But you have to check our washing machine reviews to see which ones balance efficiency and performance.

  • Lowest annual running cost £25.61: Ebac AWM86D2H and AWM74D2H. Purchase cost of £489. Lifetime cost of £913 (over 16 years)
  • Highest annual running cost £94.60: Whirlpool W8W946WRUK. Purchase cost of £642. Lifetime cost of £2,156 (over 16 years)

You can see the energy cost and lifetime cost of all Which? tested and available models with our washing machine running cost tool.

Energy-saving tip: Avoid small loads. Fill your machine about 80% full and choose to wash at 30°C instead of 40°C to cut energy use by 38%. If your clothes aren't stained, consider a 20°C wash which will use 62% less energy.

Efficient appliances can cost £1,000s less over their lifetime

As well as stating the annual running cost of each appliance named above, we've also stated the estimated lifetime cost.

This shows the true value of choosing an efficient appliance.

Despite many efficient models costing more than inefficient ones upfront, they could pay for themselves in the savings in just a few years, and even end up costing thousands less over their lifetime.

The most dramatic saving is with tumble dryers. Despite the Miele TCB140 WP and TSB143 WP costing more than twice as much upfront than the Beko DTBC10001 (£799 vs £300), the energy use means they end up costing the same amount after 4fouryears, and the Miele could end up saving you more than £2,000 if you kept it for 20 years.

Listen to our Ease the Squeeze podcast for tips on saving energy, cutting costs on your food shop and more

Cheap Eco Buys unlock long-term savings

You don't always have to fork out to get an efficient appliance, though.

Our Eco Buys are those that do their job well while keeping energy and water use to a minimum.

The cheapest Eco Buy fridge is just £343, while the cheapest freezer is £210.

Eco Buy washing machines are available from £439 and tumble dryers from £450.

Find out more in our guide to choosing a Which? Eco Buy.