A couple of years ago, back when British energy prices were skyrocketing to unprecedented and, for many, totally unaffordable consumer prices, I took some time to try and understand which appliances I should try to really cut back on if I wanted to save myself from future bankruptcy

Catherine from gocompare.com, a site that allows you to compare the prices of many types of products and services (although you probably already know that if you live in the UK - they make lots of adverts that feature officially the most irritating character on television: Gio Compario), recently wrote in to let me know about the energy cost calculator that they now have on their site.

The idea is that it lets you easily compare the approximate costs of running different devices for a given amount of time. For example, if you’re someone who uses the oven a lot and is considering options when getting a new one, it currently reveals that using an electric oven for 2 hours a day is likely to cost you around £1.04 a day vs £0.24 for a gas oven. Which, to go on a tangent, makes it not all that surprising that some of the ever-increasing numbers of folk that depend on food banks to stand a chance of getting their next meal are having to turn down some of what’s in theory freely available to them on the basis that they can’t afford to cook it.

The calculator’s values are only approximations of course. They don’t ask you to input any information about the specific appliance models you have or the terms of any specific deal you have with your energy supplier - although they note that most people are anyway on a standard variable tariff that will usually follow the maximum allowed by any fluctuations of the government’s energy price cap. The energy consumption per device data is taken from the Centre for Sustainable Energy (which is also worth a read!) and the prices come from a British Gas article.

So, especially given there’s not a tremendous amount of variation between most people’s energy costs per unit these days, the calculator is certainly a useful tool to give you a quick and easy understanding of what using your appliances is likely to cost you and, if you have options within a category, which choice is likely to cost you less.

Those of us concerned with the environment - which if you’re a human you should be - might also be able to use it as an indication of which types of appliances and devices are more energy efficient, and hence less polluting to use, on the basis that higher energy costs within a type of fuel obviously correlate with churning through more energy resources. Perhaps that’s a feature that they could add in the future if enough data is available; a more explicit indication of the energy usage in each scenario you try and its typical environmental implications.