In reality, a modern range cooker shouldn’t cost any more to run than the equivalent element on another cooker. All modern appliances come with energy ratings, so it’s fairly simple to compare like-for-like when looking through what’s on offer. Of course, it may be that a double oven costs more to run than a single eye-level oven in a fitted kitchen, but then if you’re cooking large amounts of food, it may take two batches and so twice as long as in a standard oven, so things should even themselves out.
Beware of confusing a modern range cooker with the traditional cast-iron range cookers of Victorian times. Both Rangemaster and the iconic Swedish brand Aga began manufacturing in the 1800s and now belong to the same organisation. These cookers were designed for Victorian houses, with their poor thermal retention, to continuously burn fuel at a low intensity. The heavy iron frame absorbs this heat and radiates it throughout the kitchen and home throughout the day while also providing simple cooking functions.
As a result, average fuel use of traditional ranges is considerably greater than for an oven used solely for cooking. However, you can’t really think of these models as purely for cooking. You will need to seriously think about how you would use a continuously running storage range cooker and how you will add this into the mix of radiators and water heating within your home. Modern versions of the storage range cooker are programmable, and older models can be upgraded too. The current trend for open plan ground floors with stairs running up to airy first floors are ideal for Agas and Rangemasters as the heat will be able to circulate freely around the whole house, providing the background heat they were designed for.
Old-fashioned storage range cookers and modern houses aren’t a perfect match because newer homes are thermally efficient – building regulations ensure that this is the case. So if you’re moving into a draughty old period home, they may well be ideal, but anything built within the last 50 years will just be too warm to justify the cost of running a traditional Aga. Even Aga themselves quote figures of between £800 and £1700 for annual running costs, depending on the size of the oven, the house, and the fuel used. Consequently, they are often seen as a lifestyle choice rather than an efficient heating and cooking machine. Diehard fans of Aga cookers will nevertheless tell you that the radiant heat is gentle on food and locks in moisture, flavour and goodness, meaning the food you serve tastes better than if prepared in other types of cookers.
But of course, this is where the growing popularity of modern range cookers comes in. They offer all the stunning style and traditional appearance that we crave, with all the latest technology thrown in – a perfect combination. The modern range cooker’s energy efficiency is a real plus, as most models have an A-rating or above. They shouldn’t cost any more to run than a standard built in oven, although you might find that once you’ve bought one, you’re more inspired to cook at home more often.