The electric kettle has been a mainstay of kitchens for over 50 years, but its future could be under threat from a gizmo that produces instant boiling water, without the wait.
Kitchen retailers say the tap, called a Quooker, has started to take off with as many as one in three designer kitchens now featuring the gadget.
The Quooker supplies instant boiling water through a tap, connected to a small tank hidden in a cupboard underneath the work surface or sink. The heavily insulated three-litre tank is linked to the water supply and heated electrically to keep it at 100C. There is a safety catch to stop children accidentally burning themselves.
Richard Anderson from contemporary kitchen designer, Poggenpohl, said: “I think they are great and I think that they will – in modern kitchens – kill the kettle.”
Quookers are made by a Dutch-based company, which started selling its devices in Britain three years ago. Despite their very high price tag of nearly £800, sales of Quookers took off last year, increasing by 300 per cent with nearly 10,000 of the taps installed.
Stephen Johnson, managing director of Quooker in the UK, said: “People always overfill a kettle to boil it, and so the running cost of a kettle is more.
“Quooker is an on-demand system and there is a huge labour saving in terms of time.”
Apart from convenience and time-saving, boiling-water taps should be more environmental friendly. On average, each time a consumer boils a kettle, it costs them around 1.4 pence, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Caroline Rams, at the Trust, said: “If everyone boiled only the water they needed every time they used the kettle, we could save enough electricity in a year to power the UK’s street lights for nearly seven months.”
Boiling water taps can also be used to save consumers from boiling pans of water on the hob when they are cooking pasta or vegetables. Kitchen retailers believe that over many years, consumers should make their money back if they install a boiling tap.
Richard Moss from Mark Wilkinson Furniture said that boiling-water taps were fast-becoming the favourite kitchen appliance among retailers. He said: “Like the electric kettle took over the hob-top kettle, I think it will become part of our lives. More and more people will have them in the future.”
Some, however, think the high price tag will mean they will remain the preserve of those who are willing to spend at least £20,000 on a new kitchen. Linda Bone, the manager of the Smallbone kitchen showroom in west London, said: “They are getting more popular, they are nice to have but they aren’t essential. I can’t see everyone having one.”