New drive to help households cut cooking costs in face of surge in energy prices

Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland

Deeside-based frozen foods retailer, Iceland, has joined with energy supplier, Utilita, to provide help for customers on reducing their cooking costs.

They believe that households reliant on oven cooking could save up to £604 per year by switching to more energy-efficient cooking methods.

As the UK faces one of the most expensive winters in its history in terms of energy costs, Utilita and Iceland’s ‘Shop Smart, Cook Savvy’ collaboration will officially launch in early September to help families better understand the cost of cooking, and to help identify the most economical cooking methods available to them to make budgets stretch further.

As part of the joint campaign, both brands have committed to 11 pro-consumer, pro-planet pledges in total, which includes a massive overhaul of Iceland’s own-product packaging to reflect more energy-efficient cooking appliances and methods, and a national ‘Cooking High 5’ consumer awareness tour, facilitated by Utilita outside Iceland stores.

The launch will also see the introduction of both brands selling the best value 4.5l air fryer on the market from Tower Housewares retailing at the discounted price of £35, enabling consumers to make their investment back in around 47 days of avoiding the oven.

Air fryers will be sold at Iceland stores nationwide and online, and at Utilita’s High Street Energy Hubs.

The research by the two partners presents the cost to cook, per minute for each of the main types of cooking appliance.

It also explores a range of common cooking methods and offers recommendations on how to change their behaviour to save. Households spend approximately 43 minutes cooking each day and almost half (42%) admit to using the oven by default for the main part of their cooking needs.

More than half of UK households admitted to not knowing which of their cooking appliances cost more to run (52%).

Utilita’s in-depth research presents a list of the main seven types of cooking appliances, starting with the most energy intensive – the electric cooker – and finishing up with the most economical to run – the microwave. In anticipation of the list becoming every household’s go-to cooking calculator, the research has been based on the energy consumption of 92 appliances across 24 sources, including academic research, legislation, and data collected from popular shopping websites.

The ‘Shop Smart, Cook Savvy’ research reveals how the cost of cooking can be cut by up to 60-90%, enabling households to save hundreds of pounds each year. The research also highlights the wider environmental impact of households’ cooking behaviours, revealing that oven-default households could avoid generating the same amount of carbon emissions generated by driving 1,164 miles in the average car.

Bill Bullen, Utilita founder and CEO, said: “For as long as we can remember, our kitchens have been designed around the oven being the main cooking method, which isn’t the case for many households today. Much more economical cooking appliances such as air fryers, slow cookers and microwaves have become increasingly more popular. However, the cooking instructions on food packets haven’t reflected this.

“Utilita and Iceland are closely aligned in our mission to help households make their money go further. There are so many factors that neither Richard (Iceland MD) nor I can control today, but the cost of cooking is mutual ground that we can help consumers with. This unique partnership will hopefully urge other supermarkets to do the same and help consumers choose the most economical cooking methods.”

Richard Walker, Iceland’s managing director, said: “The cost of living crisis continues to be the biggest national issue facing consumers and as a private, family-run business, we’re constantly looking at both short, and long term initiatives that can offer any support.

“Our ‘Shop Smart, Cook Savvy’ collaboration with Utilita is so important, as it shines a light on the relationship between what we buy and how much energy we use cooking it, helping to empower our customers and provide them with access to information that can help stretch their budgets further.”

Archie Lasseter, Utilita’s sustainability lead, said: “The rising cost of energy is going to create seismic shifts in consumer behaviour associated with energy consumption through a new awareness of the cost to consume. The impact will be far greater than any of the Government’s green initiatives ever could have achieved.

“Although cooking is said to account for four per cent of the average energy bill, the savings speak for themselves. It’s vital that consumers are given the facts they need to use less energy in the interest of the pocket and the planet.

“As experts in energy behaviour change, we know that consumers need to know in pounds and pence what their actions will save them, and we know that every household budgets differently, hence the daily, weekly and monthly cost savings set out in this campaign.”

David Buttress, former CEO of Just Eat and New Cost of Living Business Tsar, welcomed the campaign, saying: “This is the type of consumer awareness campaign that will stick in our minds because it’s enabling every household to rethink the way we cook, which hasn’t been done before.

“We are delighted to list both Utilita and Iceland as official Help for Household partners for their efforts in enabling and assisting consumers to make impactful savings that will make a big difference, whilst reducing carbon emissions. I am hopeful that other supermarkets will follow suit to help their consumers identify the cheapest way to cook.”

As part of Utilita’s national education programme, Iceland customers and all households will be invited to attend thousands of free workshops on the 15 ways to cut energy bills by hundreds each year, including five ways to save up to £604 when cooking.

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