Last updated: January 27, 2023.
How much does it cost to run a microwave? Find out here, based on 203 models. Plus use this calculator to see your own costs and keep them low with these 5 cost saving tips.
The cost to run a microwave should not be based on its cooking power. Many resources do this, unfortunately.
Below you’ll find more accurate microwave running costs, based on 203 models, along with a useful calculator to help you work out your own running costs.
You’ll also see 5 ways that you can easily reduce the cost to run your microwave.
- The most common cost to run a microwave is $0.21 per hour or $0.0035 per minute.
- It can cost up to 44 cents per hour ($0.0074 per minute) to run a high powered countertop microwave.
- The most common cost to run a small microwave is 15 cents per hour ($0.0025 per minute).
- Microwaves are expensive to run, with the most common hourly cost being equivalent to running an air purifier for nearly 2 days.
- The Toshiba ML-EM45PIT(BS) is a stand out energy efficient, therefore cheaper to run, microwave – check it out on Amazon, here.
- In general, using a microwave to cook is cheaper than using a conventional oven.
Note: costs are calculated using the average rate per kWh in the US – 15 cents. Microwave wattage, power consumption and energy efficiency details are based on the recent article: Microwave Wattage Revealed.
- How much does it cost to run a microwave
- Are microwaves expensive to run
- 5 tips to reduce the cost of running a microwave
- Final thoughts
How much does it cost to run a microwave
It costs between $0.13 and $0.44 per hour to run a microwave, with $0.21 being the most common.
These figures are based on the microwave wattage of 203 models and assume the average microwave efficiency (71.29%) – get research details in the recent post: Microwave Wattage Revealed.
The average kWh rate in the US (i.e. 15 cents) is also used.
Note: it’s inaccurate to use the output wattage (i.e. the cooking power) to work out the cost to run a microwave. This is because, on average, the output wattage is 71.29% of the power consumption. The input wattage, which is used in this post, gives a more accurate result.
Retailers often categorize microwaves into small and medium sizes. The size categories don’t have a significant impact on power consumption levels.
Small microwaves cost between 13 cents and 44 cents per hour to run. While medium size microwaves cost between 17 cents and 44 cents per hour.
The most common electricity cost per hour for a small microwave is 15 cents. 21 cents per hour is the most common for medium size microwaves.
Running a microwave continuously for 1 hour is not common, so let’s look at the costs for a shorter period of time.
Cost to run a microwave for 5 minutes
It costs between $0.011 and $0.037 to run a microwave for 5 minutes, with $0.018 being the most common cost.
Small microwaves have a similar running cost range, however, $0.012 is the most common cost.
Medium sized microwaves have an electricity cost that ranges from $0.014 to $0.037 for every 5 minutes that it runs at max power. The most common cost in this size category is also $0.018.
How much does it cost to run a microwave for 1 minute
It costs between $0.0021 and $0.0074 per minute to run a microwave. The most common cost per minute for a microwave is $0.0035.
Medium sized microwaves have the same “most common” cost, however, the cost range differs slightly.
Medium sized microwaves cost from $0.0028 to $0.0074 per minute.
The most common electricity cost for small microwaves is $0.0025.
The cost range per minute for small microwaves is the same as the overall cost range (i.e. $0.0021 to $0.0074 per minute).
Cost to run a microwave by wattage
The cost to run a microwave is heavily dependent on its wattage (more specifically, its input wattage).
The table below lists the cost per minute, cost per 5 minutes and cost per hour for 16 differently powered microwaves.
Also included is the estimated power consumption, in kWh, based on the average efficiency of converting input electricity into cooking power.
|Microwave wattage (output W / cooking power)||Power consumption (average)||Cost per hour ($0.15 p/kWh)||Cost per 5 mins ($0.15 p/kWh)||Cost per minute($0.15 p/kWh)|
|600W microwave||0.841644 kWh||$0.13||$0.011||$0.0021|
|700W microwave||0.981918 kWh||$0.15||$0.012||$0.0025|
|800W microwave||1.122192 kWh||$0.17||$0.014||$0.0028|
|900W microwave||1.262466 kWh||$0.19||$0.016||$0.0032|
|1000W microwave||1.40274 kWh||$0.21||$0.018||$0.0035|
|1100W microwave||1.543014 kWh||$0.23||$0.019||$0.0039|
|1200W microwave||1.683288 kWh||$0.25||$0.021||$0.0042|
|1300W microwave||1.823562 kWh||$0.27||$0.023||$0.0046|
|1400W microwave||1.963836 kWh||$0.29||$0.025||$0.0049|
|1500W microwave||2.10411 kWh||$0.32||$0.026||$0.0053|
|1600W microwave||2.244384 kWh||$0.34||$0.028||$0.0056|
|1700W microwave||2.384658 kWh||$0.36||$0.030||$0.0060|
|1800W microwave||2.524932 kWh||$0.38||$0.032||$0.0063|
|1900W microwave||2.665206 kWh||$0.40||$0.033||$0.0067|
|2000W microwave||2.80548 kWh||$0.42||$0.035||$0.0070|
|2100W microwave||2.945754 kWh||$0.44||$0.037||$0.0074|
For background into microwave wattage, power consumption and energy efficiency, check out the recent post: Microwave Wattage Revealed [203 Studied | Most Efficient | Conversion Calculators].
The output wattage of microwaves is even more diverse than what’s covered in the table above.
If you don’t see your microwave wattage in the table, use the Microwave Electricity Cost Calculator below.
Microwave electricity cost calculator
Enter your microwave wattage and your cost per kWh into the Microwave Electricity Cost Calculator below to see an estimate of how much it costs you to run your microwave.
This calculator assumes that your microwave is 71.29% (the average) efficient at converting input electricity into cooking power.
So now that we know how much a microwave costs to run, let’s put the costs into perspective.
Are microwaves expensive to run
Yes. Microwaves are expensive to run. However, given the typically short duration of usage, the costs can be quite low.
1000W microwaves are most commonly stocked by retailers. These consume 1.40274 kWh of electricity per hour costing, on average in the US, 21 cents. This is equivalent to:
- The cost of running an air purifier for nearly 2 days.
- The cost to run a PS5 for over 4 and a half hours.
- The cost to run a dishwasher for 1 load. Actually, it costs 2 cents more to run a microwave per hour compared to this large household appliance (water costs are included too).
- The cost to change an electric bike nearly 3 times.
So microwaves can be considered expensive to run, but their overall expense is relatively low because generally they are not running for long periods.
And when it comes to cooking, they’re actually inexpensive to run.
Is a microwave cheaper to run than an oven
Yes. Microwaves are cheaper to run than conventional ovens.
This is due to shorter cooking times and lower power consumption.
The power draw for a microwave is generally lower than conventional ovens, while they also waste less energy heating food.
Conventional cookers heat food along with the surrounding area in the oven, while microwaves heat from the inside out, which is more efficient.
However, it may be cheaper to run an oven when cooking a more substantial amount of food. This is because you can make better use of the heat already in the oven.
But when it comes to reheating food, and cooking one or two meals, it’s cheaper to use a microwave.
Additionally, microwaves are becoming increasingly efficient and versatile.
One of the most efficient and, therefore, cheapest to run microwaves is the Toshiba ML-EM45PIT(BS) inverter microwave.
This energy efficient microwave converts an impressive 92.59% (71.29% is average) of input power into cooking power – check it out on Amazon, here.
Next, let’s take a look at how you can reduce the cost of running your microwave.
5 tips to reduce the cost of running a microwave
- Use it less. Consider defrosting your meal in a fridge or at room temperature if appropriate. This will take longer, but it’ll help keep your running costs low.
- Cook for the recommended time only. It’s common to have cooking instructions that don’t match your microwave wattage. To help ensure that you’re not using your microwave longer than necessary, while also not undercooking your food, use this Microwave Wattage Conversion Time Calculator.
- Use eco mode (if available). Many modern microwaves come equipped with an eco mode. Using this mode helps keep your microwave running costs low.
- Consider upgrading to a more efficient model. Microwave tech is developing quite rapidly. New inverter microwaves use less power than regular microwaves. So if you’re in the market for a new microwave, consider an inverter microwave. The Toshiba ML-EM45PIT(BS) is a stand out energy efficient inverter microwave – check it out on Amazon, here.
- Switch energy provider. Utility providers tend to offer significant discounts on their unit rates to attract new customers. Consider shopping around for a cheaper energy provider. This will help reduce the cost of running your microwave along with the cost to run all of your appliances.
But remember, when it comes to cooking smaller meals, you should try to use your microwave more than other cooking appliances. Because, in general, it’s a more efficient option.
Microwaves are energy efficient, but draw a considerable amount of power.
As a result, they’re expensive to run while also being the cheapest cooking appliance to use when it comes to cooking small meals.
Using microwave output wattage to work out the running costs leads to an underestimation – the input wattage should be used.
Unfortunately, many resources estimate microwave running costs based on output wattage.
You should now have a good sense of microwave running costs, and I hope that the 5 tips help you keep your running costs and carbon footprint low.
Before you go, you might be interested in this recent post: Microwave Wattage Revealed [203 Studied | Most Efficient | Conversion Calculators]. It gives more background into microwave wattage, power consumption and microwave energy efficiency.
How many watts does a microwave use? (It’s not as obvious as you might think) Find out here. See the most energy efficient microwave based on 203 models and use this microwave wattage conversion calculator.
How much does it cost to run a dishwasher? Find out here, based on 601 models. Plus, see how you can reduce the cost to run a dishwasher with these 6 useful tips.
How much water does a dishwasher use? Find out here, based on 601 models. See dishwasher water usage by cycle, month and year, and see which dishwasher uses the least amount of water, and more.
James F (not to be confused with ECS co-founder James) is our lead author, content & website manager. He has a BSc. in Digital Marketing, and a Diploma in IT. He became a qualified electrician while studying electrical engineering part-time.
From wind and solar photovoltaic installers, James F worked with many certified energy practitioners and energy consultants before joining the core ECS team. He also helped build the most downloaded energy saving app while working with a leading utility company.