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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Rupert Jones, Sarah Marsh, Hilary Osborne and Miles Brignall

Energy saving: the best deals in the UK sales, from bikes to air fryers

Sale now on signs on London's Oxford Street
High street retailers have already started sales. Photograph: Keith Mayhew/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock

The sales have started and there are bargains to be had on the high street and online. It’s the perfect time to buy those money-saving gadgets that you have been considering – once you know that Santa hasn’t left them for you under the tree.

We have looked at the savings that can be made with some popular household tech, and offer a guide to the best prices, including, where available, any special offers.

Retailers may have more discounts up their sleeves, so armed with this information, you will know when to pounce.

Heated clothes airers

These have been flying off the shelves ever since the energy crisis began, and look poised to be a big hit in the sales.

At less than 10p an hour to use in many cases, they are a lot more cost-effective than a tumble dryer, which can currently be up to £1.18 a cycle, according to the energy efficiency website Sust-it. It offers a calculator so you can check the cost of running appliances – you just need details of their energy use, in watts or kilowatts.

Prices usually range from about £35 to £200. If you are looking for a budget heated airer, Aldi was last month selling a lightweight version with foldable wings for £34.99.

According to the retailer, it costs 8p an hour to run (during the current Ofgem price cap period, ending 31 December) and is due back on sale in stores on 14 January.

The Lakeland Dry:Soon three-tier heated airer.
The Lakeland Dry:Soon three-tier heated airer. Photograph: Lakeland

When it comes to the best budget buys, Good Housekeeping and Ideal Home namecheck one from the electrical company Status that, like Aldi, has foldable wings. At the time of writing, it was £40.95 on Amazon, and £49.99 at retailers including B&Q and Robert Dyas. The latter was offering £5 off to people with a MyDyas card.

Mumsnet’s best buy is another foldable airer, this one made by Minky at about £60. At the time of writing it was on offer at Argos for £54. Mumsnet says it is “cheap to run (about 8p an hour)” and “lightweight, but not flimsy”.

For those able to afford something a bit higher spec, Ideal Home likes Lakeland’s standard Dry:Soon three-tier model, which has a regular price of £159.99 at Lakeland and Amazon.

This was also named best overall by Mumsnet, which says it was “raved about” on its forums. Full disclosure – this writer has owned one for more than 10 years, still uses it a lot, and has been very happy with it.

The Dry:Soon offers 21 metres of drying space, can hold up to 15kg of laundry, and – when we checked on Sust-it – costs 8p an hour to run.

Ideal Home’s Rebecca Knight says she bought one in 2015, “and it still works as well as it did when I bought it”. It takes roughly five to six hours to dry a full load, she adds.

Ideal Home also rates the more compact Mini version of the Dry:Soon three-tier (usually £129.99 at Lakeland), which offers 13 metres of drying space, while Good Housekeeping likes the range’s Deluxe model at £199.99 at Lakeland and Amazon. RJ

Air fryers

The compactness of air fryers, which work like small conventional fan ovens, means they are cheaper to run than a full-sized oven, and are great if you are cooking for a few friends.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the typical cost of cooking a 600g chicken breast is 16p.

Buying one ranges from about £30 to more than £200, and it will depend on the size and type.

There are “basket-style” versions, with one or two drawers, and “oven-style” options that often come with rotisserie accessories.

French fries in a Ninja air fryer.
Air fryers are cheaper to run than a full-sized oven. Photograph: Tom Viggars/Alamy

Data scientists at the electricity and gas supplier Utilita found that while an air fryer will set you back 56p a week to run, an electric cooker will be three times more expensive at £1.95 in that same period.

Emily Seymour, the energy editor at Which?, says the group’s research found that they “often cost less to cook certain foods than conventional ovens”.

She says: “For instance, it costs half as much to cook a roast chicken, compared with an oven. However, the savings will soon be lost if you have to cook more than one batch, so it’s still better to use your oven for large quantities.”

In terms of the best bargains, TechRadar suggests the Cosori Pro LE Air Fryer L501, which usually retails at about £70.

Ideal Home has product tested 30 models, to come up with a list of 12 best buys, including the Instant Vortex Digital, voted one of its best under £100. It also appears on the TechRadar list and retails at around £60.

It ranked the Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer 10.4L AF500UK as the best overall, but it comes with a big price tag. It’s advertised at £270 usually but is reduced to £219 on the Ninja website and at John Lewis and Lakeland.

Good Housekeeping says that if the Ninja proves too expensive then another option is the Salter Dual Air EK4548, which retails for about £100. Some reliable models recommended by the consumer group Which? include the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone AF300UK, which it says “performs well and has a generous capacity”.

The Tower T17102 Vortx Vizion is a slightly cheaper option and it’s also a dual basket model – which is the choice for many people at the moment. SM

Slow cookers

Another popular kitchen gadget is a slow cooker.

You can get decent models starting at £29.95 but you could spend up to £200.

It’s worth bearing in mind the cheapest will usually have the smallest cooking space.

The Energy Saving Trust says a slow cooker will cost about 32p in electricity for each use.

To keep this down, it suggests avoiding leaving them on for longer than necessary, and using the low setting if you are going to be out all day.

Beef casserole in a slow cooker.
The Energy Saving Trust says a slow cooker will cost about 32p in electricity for each use. Photograph: clubfoto/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Good Housekeeping tested 36 models and recommends the Crock-Pot SCCPRC507B-060, which costs about £50 at full price.

It says the Progress by WW Slow Cooker is the best value at £30, while the GreenPan CC005308-001 is the best for ease of use. It retails at £200.

Mumsnet also has a list of recommendations, which has Cookworks 6.5L rated as the best budget buy at £33. It also rates the Morphy Richards 461020 Sear and Stew, available at £70 typically – this has a bowl that can go on the hob, so you do not need to use a separate pan to brown meat or soften onions. SM

Blankets and throws

Heat the person not the space is a money-saving mantra, and electric blankets and throws are a good way to do this. With the caveat that it is important to keep rooms at a healthy temperature – about 18C for active adults – you can wrap yourself in warmth at a cost low enough to beat putting on the central heating.

The utility company Octopus Energy says that an energy-efficient electric blanket can be run for as little as 2p to 4p an hour on the maximum setting.

It has been giving them out to vulnerable customers, and says recipients have cut their bills as a result.

The manufacturer Dreamland says its mattress protectors and underblankets are typically more energy efficient than throws or overblankets – and that they can run for eight hours for as little as 6p.

It says to look out for energy-efficiency information on packaging when choosing between products.

You can use the Sust-it calculator to check out individual items, if you get hold of the wattage. It’s not very easy to get that information when shopping around online – lots of websites do not list energy usage, even in the product specs.

Lakeland, however, does include the wattage next to dimensions on product features and has links to manuals, which include that information.

Good Housekeeping’s best-buy electric throw is Lakeland’s faux fur version, which normally sells for £119.99.

Its favourite electric blanket is the Komfort Heated Mattress Cover from Monogram by Beurer. This is typically about £90-£100 for the double-bed version with dual controls, which let you operate each side separately.

Handily, Beurer has a page on its website detailing the cost of using its various heated items. It says the underblanket will typically cost less than 1p an hour.

The Lakeland StaySnug Grey Electric Heated Poncho.
The Lakeland StaySnug Grey Electric Heated Poncho. Photograph: Lakeland

Ideal Home magazine’s top pick is the Dreamland Scandi Sherpa Electric Underblanket. The double comes in at £99.99 normally.

Argos has 20% off all sizes of the Snuggledown Intelligent Warmth underblanket that appears on the Good Housekeeping listThe double is reduced to £91.

John Lewis has knocked £15 off the Dreamland Velvet Herringbone Quilted Heated Throw, which Good Housekeeping picked as its best luxury version. It is now £79.99.

Lakeland’s electric heated poncho may scream comfort rather than style but you’ll be able to shrug off any comments with toasty shoulders. It appears on several best-buy lists and is usually £89.99. HO


Has there ever been a better time to buy a new bike from a consumer’s perspective? If there has, it’s so long ago that most cycle industry watchers can’t remember it.

Go on to any big bike retailer website, or walk into a store, and if you aren’t being offered a 40% discount on a standard or electric bike, you may want to take your business elsewhere. Some high-end electric and road bikes are now being offered at half-price – with a £4,000 saving.

A combination of lots of people buying bikes during lockdown, a big miscalculation by the industry as to how many bikes would be needed in 2023, and a cost of living crisis that has put the squeeze on household budgets, has conspired to make it a buyer’s market. Cycle Weekly reported last week that bike sales were now at their worst level for more than two decades.

Evans Cycles
Evans Cycles is offering a 70% saving on some models of bike. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

“It’s a great time to be a bike buyer – not so good if you’re trying to sell them – but prices are being slashed by retailers trying to shift a glut in stock,” says the BikeRadar deputy editor, Jack Luke.

“In the US the popular brand Norco is offering a buy one, get one free deal on its £4,000 mountain bikes, and it’s a similar story over here as retailers cut prices to shift stock.”

Evans Cycles, now part of Sports Direct, is selling some popular Trek bikes at a 39% discount. Most of its Pinnacle commuting range is being sold at a 50% discount. Most other big bike retailers have had to follow suit, although the discounts vary according to brands.

Merlin Cycles, based in Chorley, is now selling high-end road bikes at between 15% and 50% discounts. Wiggle, which is in administration and up for sale, is selling lots of its bikes at 30%-50% off – put it on your credit card so if anything goes wrong you can get your money back.

It’s the same story for electric bikes. Merlin currently has discounted the Metroneer London hybrid e-bike from a £1,500 RRP to £699. Evans is offering some Specialized electric bikes at a 70% discount – down from £3,700 to £1,109. Shop around and you will find a great deal. It’s a similar story on cycle clothes and accessories. MB

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