Bread, bagels, and beyond
For toast fans, pop-up toasters are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Today’s models accommodate thicker bread slices and bagels, too.
If you want a more versatile appliance, you might be interested in a toaster oven. It can’t toast bread as quickly or sometimes as evenly as a pop-up toaster, but it can broil a filet of fish, bake a few cookies, cook a small casserole, or heat up a small pizza.
- Know what you need. If you only want to toast bread, a pop-up toaster is your most effective and energy-efficient option. If you want to be able to bake, broil, or warm up small meals in addition to toasting bread, a toaster oven is a more energy-efficient alternative to a full-size oven. Microwave ovens cook faster and so use even less energy than toaster ovens, but they don’t toast, bake or broil.
- Fan the fire. Toaster ovens with convection fans often cost more, but they cook faster and more evenly.
- Watch your watts. Higher wattage appliances use more energy, but usually can toast more bread or cook more food. Typical toasters are 800 to 1,400 watts, while typical toaster ovens range from about 1,200 to 1,700 watts.
Fifteen dollars will get you a basic pop-up toaster that works fine. Or you can spend a few dollars more for a toaster oven. For toaster ovens with more style, color choices, settings, and convection fans, costs range from $60 to $150 (or more for the fanciest toaster ovens).
…to the Earth
In general, toasters use a little less energy than toaster ovens, and toaster ovens use about half as much energy as a full-size electric oven. (A microwave conserves even more, though. It uses about two-thirds less energy than a conventional electric oven.) A convection fan can reduce the energy use of a toaster oven by cooking the food 20% to 30% faster.
Having too many choices. Few people need a pop-up toaster, a toaster oven, a conventional oven, and a microwave. Too many appliances will clutter your shelves and boost your consumption of natural resources. Figure out which ones you really need and just buy those.
If you want to calculate how much a toaster or toaster oven would cost you to operate each year, use this formula:
Multiply the appliance’s wattage times the number of hours used per day times the number of days used per year. Divide the product by 1,000 to get the number of kilowatt-hours used annually. Then multiple the number of kilowatt-hours by your electricity rate in $/kilowatt-hour (typically around $0.12 per kWh).
For example, using a 1,000-watt toaster for 10 minutes a day would cost about $7 per year in electricity if your electricity rate were 12 cents per kWh.