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A Guide to Energy-Efficient Dishwashers

Kimberly Hutchings
April 24, 2023

What's the most energy-efficient way to wash dishes?

The answer isn't avoiding them (but nice try!). It's investing in an energy-efficient dishwasher! An energy-efficient dishwasher can help you reduce energy consumption while also saving you money on your monthly utility bills.

In fact, some energy-efficient dishwashers use less than half of the energy it takes to wash dishes by hand, and features, like water filtration, dish rack design and soil sensors, are constantly improving to continue enhancing their energy-saving abilities. 

But what do you look for when choosing an energy-efficient dishwasher? And how can you make the most of your energy-saving efforts when you use them? Get started with this quick guide to energy-efficient dishwashing. 

Are you buying a new dishwasher? Here's what to look for!

Look for the ENERGY STAR® symbol before you buy.

The first thing you should look for when buying a new energy-efficient dishwasher is the ENERGY STAR® symbol. It looks like a small blue star, and it's an indicator that the dishwasher has met a set of robust industry standards on energy efficiency. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, ENERGY STAR® certified dishwashers use an average of 12% less energy than standard dishwashers and 30% less water — and when you consider those stats over the lifetime of a dishwasher, it's easy to see why those savings are worth the investment!

BUYER'S TIP: If you're looking for the best of the best when it comes to energy-saving appliances, look for the models that have earned the ENERGY STAR® Most Efficient designation. This certification is awarded to models that offer superior energy-efficiency performance — saving even more energy (and money) than those with the standard ENERGY STAR® certification.

You can browse the ENERGY STAR® Most Efficient dishwashers of 2023 by clicking here.


Choose the right-sized dishwasher for your home. 

Once you've narrowed your search to ENERGY STAR® certified dishwasher models, you'll want to consider what size dishwasher is suitable for your home. 

A standard-capacity dishwasher model typically holds eight or more place settings and around six serving pieces, making them a good option for the average home. In contrast, a compact dishwasher model may be suitable for an apartment or house with only one or two occupants as it will typically accommodate less dishware than a standard-capacity model. While there's no right or wrong answer as to what's right for you, it's important to remember that a compact model doesn't necessarily mean less energy used, especially if you have to run it more frequently to get through all your dishes!

Opt for a model with multiple wash cycles.

Finally, the last thing you'll want to consider is the features included with the model of dishwasher you select. For instance, soil sensors can determine whether the water running through your dishwasher is clean or dirty. This can save water by avoiding overwashing when your dishes are already clean.

In addition, settings like eco-wash can help you further avoid excess water and energy waste, while dishwashers that allow you to turn off the heated dry cycle can enable you to save by having your dishes air dry instead.

an energy efficienct dishwasher saves more water than washing by hand

Save more energy on dishwashing with these tips!

The energy-saving opportunities continue beyond simply purchasing an energy-efficient dishwasher, though! You can do more to maximize your savings and make the most of your new eco-friendly appliance. Here's how.

Wait until you have a full load.

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but if you can, avoid running your dishwasher until you have a full load. Your dishwasher will use the same amount of water and energy whether you have twenty dishes or two, so waiting until you have more to wash is a simple way to get a bit more bang for your buck. Bonus points if you use a natural, biodegradable detergent! 

Skip the rinsing!

While many of us may be used to rinsing our dishes before we load them in the dishwasher, it's a step that's been essentially rendered redundant by the powerful cleaning capabilities of today's energy-efficient dishwashers. Next time you wash, skip the precautionary pre-rinse and opt for a simple scrape instead to avoid additional water waste.

Say goodbye to handwashing dishes.

Here's a tip that might surprise you — try not to hand wash your dishes! An energy-efficient dishwasher will use less energy (and save you more money) than taking the time to hand wash your dishes. It might sound crazy, but it's true! Reserve handwashing for dishes that aren't dishwasher-friendly to make the most of your dishwasher's eco-cleaning capabilities.

Load strategically to maximize your clean.

Where you place your dishes in the dishwasher matters. Place plates and utensils on the bottom rack, with utensils facing pointy ends up, to ensure they're best positioned for water to reach them. On the top shelf, you'll want to set cups, glasses and bowls facing downwards, so they don't fill with water. You'll also want to position Tupperware on this top rack to avoid them getting warped by heat.

Finally, avoid placing large, flat objects near the dishwasher door. They can block the detergent door from opening, which can mean surprise dirty dishes at the end of a wash cycle. "I want to do the dishes twice!" said no one ever. 

Choose to air-dry your dishes after a wash cycle.

Studies have shown that, on average, the heated drying cycle on your dishwasher uses 15% more energy than room-temperature drying. So next time you run your dishwasher, check to see if it has the option to disable the heated drying cycle. A bit of extra drying time can go a long way on your monthly energy bill — and adding a rinse agent can help speed up the process!

Run your dishwasher during off-peak hours!

If you're an OhmConnect member, you're no stranger to the benefits of disconnecting during peak hours when electricity prices are at their highest — and the same energy-saving logic applies to running your dishwasher! When demand is at its highest, the cost of power goes up. So take advantage of added savings by starting your dishwasher during off-peak hours when electricity is more affordable.

For California residents, these off-peak times are typically before 4:00 PM or after 9:00 PM, any day of the week.

OhmConnect members get rewarded for saving energy. Sign-up today!

Not an OhmConnect member yet? No problem! It's free and simple to get started.

Here's how it works:

As an OhmConnect member, you'll receive a text or email whenever electricity costs spike in your neighborhood, allowing you to make energy-conscious choices (like turning off the TV for an hour or two or opting not to start your dishwasher). By powering down during these energy-saving events, you'll earn rewards that you can exchange for gift cards to your favorite brands, cash to offset your energy bills, weekly prizes and more! 

Plus, OhmConnect will take the energy you save and sell it back to the grid, sharing those profits directly with YOU! Ready to get started? Click here to learn more.

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