Which Cooks a Meal More Efficiently: A Slow Cooker or Your Oven?

There’s nothing better than quickly throwing ingredients into a slow cooker, turning it on, walking away and coming back a few hours later to a delicious meal. It saves you time, but does it save energy?
Dinner Plate - Slow Cooker Braised Beef, Green Beans, and Carrots

Photo by: American Home Shield

Most Americans are busier than ever, so it’s no surprise that slow cookers are becoming more and more popular with people looking to get a meal on the table at the end of a hectic day. All you need to do is throw in the ingredients, set the slow cooker and walk away. Eight hours later, the whole family is sitting down to a delicious home-cooked meal. Sounds pretty great, right?

But are slow cookers really all they’re cracked up to be when it comes to energy efficiency? If you're looking to increase the efficiency of your home, doesn’t it seem counterintuitive to turn on a slow cooker for seven hours instead of an oven for two hours?

The heating elements in most ovens cycle through their temperature regulators a few times an hour. That means that the heating elements are actually only turned on for an average of 12 to 15 minutes for every hour of oven usage. The heating elements turn on and off to keep the temperature at an even, regulated level. And since your typical oven heating elements use an average of 1000-2000 watts per hour, your oven really only uses about a quarter of that wattage—depending on your specific oven, of course. So if it takes two hours of oven usage to cook dinner, that's anywhere from 500 to 1000 watts used.

Related: What's Hot in Ovens Today? As for your slow cooker, a five-quart brand will use an average of 250 watts per hour when set on high. So if you set your cooker on high for seven hours, that’s 1750 watts—significantly more than running your oven for two hours would use. Slow cookers don’t have temperature regulators, so once they are set, that temperature runs at that wattage the whole time. No variable temperatures and no variable wattage use.

Results: When it comes down to it, you typically aren’t saving energy by using a slow cooker instead of your oven. But you will be saving time, and we all know that’s one thing money can’t buy. So when you find that your plate is too full, there’s no harm in breaking out the slow cooker to dish up a little more quality time with the family. Just don't expect to be saving any money on your energy bill.

American Home Shield can help get your kitchen back in working order should your oven break down and leave you to rely on your slow cooker. Find out how a home warranty can protect you from unexpected repair or replacement costs and leave you with more money for extra-delicious ingredients.

Next > 6 Ways to Keep Appliances Ship Shape

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