My parents used to get annoyed when my siblings and I forgot to turn off the lights. Unsurprisingly – it’s pointless and expensive, and the energy saved by switching them off could be put towards their astronomical kettle use.
I can’t imagine my parents’ kitchen without the sound of a kettle boiling. They won’t submit to the wasteful expense of putting on the heating until they can make stalactites with the garden hose, yet the kettle seems to be in almost constant use.
Kettles are high-consumption appliances. In an attempt to go greener, many people fill the kettle with just the amount of water they need, but that still leaves them with the problem of firing it up an average of four times a day, according to Which?.
The Vektra Vacuum Electric Kettle attempts to solve this problem by combining an electric kettle mechanism with a vacuum jug, which keeps water hot for up to four hours after it’s boiled. It’s not perfect yet – the claim is that after two hours the water is still at 80°C, and after four hours it’s 68°C.
So, does it work?
Online reviewers are few, but happy. (We’ve changed their names, just in case by including them in this column they achieve unmanageable fame, when they just want to live a normal life.)
A chap left a five-star review on Nigel’s Eco Store: “Works perfectly and keeps water hot, as you said. Very pleased with quality and all features.” – Very pleased, UK
Amazon reviewers were just as happy
“It certainly keeps the water hot as it claims. It is quite heavy because of its thermos capability. It is very quiet, although I do not believe that it is particularly quick, as claimed. It is early days, but I am delighted so far.” – Cautiously delighted, UK
“Bought this after doing some research into energy-efficient kettles. The kettle is sturdy and feels well constructed. The base allows the kettle to swivel 360 degrees, the power button is flush on the handle and the overall appearance is of a well-made piece of kit. Does what it says on the tin, overall really pleased with this product.” – Well-researched joy, UK
My own verdict – the minus points
• Price. A 1.7 litre Vektra Vacuum Eco Kettle will cost £74.95, or you can get a 1.2 litre for £64.95. I’m sure it’s worth it for the job it does, but at around double the price of a standard kettle you have to really value its plus points.
• It’s heavy, although there’s certainly good reason for the weight. This is a bulky piece of kit, comprising of an electric kettle, a vacuum jug and a carafe server, not to mention the stainless steel shell. Add to that 1.7 litres of water and it’s like trying to pick up a dead dog. On the plus side, once you get used to the weight you’ll probably find the next time you pick up an ordinary kettle you’ll feel really strong.
And the plus points
• Always a plus: it works. It does what it advertises, and well. I boiled 1.7 litres for a cup of tea when I got home from work, used the same batch an hour later to cook, and again three hours later for a hot water bottle. (Yes, an actual hot water bottle. I never put on the heating either.)
• You save energy. Bested only by the tumble dryer, the washing machine and the vacuum cleaner in the energy-munching stakes, a vacuum eco kettle can halve your (kettle-based) energy consumption.
• With a vacuum kettle, a reduction in energy consumption comes without adding anything extra to your daily routine. Typically, reducing your carbon footprint involves making an effort. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s snubbed the tumble dryer for the tedium of hanging clothes on chairs, mirrors, and table corners. And I have a kitten who assumes this is an elaborate game I’ve set up just for him, called ‘Claw This’.
• You save time. It may seem impatient of me to celebrate that when according to (very approximate) statistics, the average kettle takes just one minute and 27 seconds to boil enough water for two cups of tea. What exactly would I do with that extra 90 or so seconds? Probably tweet. But still, if Which? statistics are correct, we Brits boil a kettle on average 1,378 times a year, which means over a year we spend more than 33 hours waiting for the kettle to boil. With a vacuum kettle you could cut that wait down to two working days a year.
• It stays cool on the outside, so you won’t burn yourself if you accidentally grab or bump into it, even just after it boils.
• I tried knocking it over to see if the “leak-proof stopper system” would prevent scalding water from splashing everywhere (reviewing kettles is a tough job, but some foolhardy idiot’s got to do it). Only a trickle of water escaped, so while it’s not a marvellous idea to knock it or hold it upside down, you’re much less likely to get scalded than if you drop an ordinary kettle.
It may be expensive and heavy, but it’s also sleek, safe and a genuine energy saver.
You can get a Vektra Vacuum Eco Kettle from ethicalsuperstore.com for between £64.95 and £74.95, depending on the size.