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Boris's Kettle an Energy Saving tip

Temperature control kettle

This week saw Boris Johnson rambling on about how spending £20 on a new kettle could save you money. So is this true?

Not quite is the answer. How you use a kettle can be the largest difference, followed by the type of kettle you have.

Key to saving energy when using a kettle to boil water is to not heat more water than you need. Boiling a full kettle to make one mug of tea can use about four times more energy than just boiling a mug's worth. Furthermore do you need to boil the water? If you are making coffee, instant or ground, heating water to 80 Celcius is adequate and prevents the coffee from being burnt or scalded altering it's flavour.

The best saving to be made is to buy a well insulated, temperature controlled kettle. However these can cost alot more than £20. How much you spend should be influenced by how much you use a kettle. You also have to consider whether the greater cost of the fancier kettle is worth the savings made.

My experience of electric kettles, which in my household get alot of use, is that their life span tends to be no more than a year after the warranty expires. This is possibly not helped by the hard water in my area. Most kettles I buy have a two year warranty. In the last ten years I have bought three kettles ranging in price from £40 to £28. Each of these kettles have had temperature control and insulated cases. However, this type of kettle can be hard to track down and most kettles of this type are between £80 and £150. The cheapest I have found is an old model that used to be sold by Asda for £28 and can be bought brand new on eBay.

Are they worth the expense? Well, the first kettle of this type I bought from Lidl for £40 nine years ago and I calculated at that time it saved me about £28 per annum compared to its predecessor. It saves in two significant ways, firstly it is better insulated and holds its heat for about an hour. Secondly the temperature control means it is used to heat water, but not always boil it.

Based on my simple calculations and assumptions I reckon the savings based on this winter's price cap will be just over £50 a year compared to a standard £20 kettle. Assuming a three year life the savings made by having a more expensive energy saving kettle depend on price paid, and on the more expensive models are at best marginal, but on the cheaper ones a good saving can be made. Personally I would not pay over £80 for a kettle as above that price the savings in electric are dependent upon the device's durability.

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