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The Dishwasher Energy Use Guide: Saving Money and the Planet

Katie Overmonds
/
August 10, 2023

The Dishwasher Energy Use Guide: Saving Money and the Planet

Today, we're diving into the world of dishwasher energy use and exploring how these essential kitchen appliances impact our wallets and the environment. Let's get started!

Dishwashers have become an indispensable part of modern kitchens, making our lives easier by tackling the tedious task of washing dishes. (Some people say they love washing by hand? Not sure we can relate.) These time-savers use a combination of hot water and detergent to blast away food residues and grime, leaving our plates and cutlery squeaky clean.

But is a dishwasher energy efficient? Water efficient? Good for your budget and the planet? Let’s get to the bottom of it:

The 101 of dishwasher energy use

How much energy do dishwashers use on average?

Energy consumption varies depending on the model and usage patterns, but on average, a standard dishwasher uses around 1,800-2,400 watts of electricity per cycle. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the annual energy consumption of a dishwasher typically ranges from 120 to 300 kWh, or the carbon equivalent to driving 330 miles in an average gasoline-powered passenger vehicle.

What does that mean in dollars? As an example, a dishwasher consuming 1,800-2,400 watts per cycle costs about:

  • ~$200-$264 per year in California
  • ~$156 - $216 per year in New York
  • ~$84 - $110 per year in Texas

How long does the average dishwasher last?

The lifespan of a dishwasher largely depends on the quality of the appliance and how well it's maintained. On average, you can expect a dishwasher to last around 10-12 years. Regular cleaning, avoiding overloading, and ensuring proper maintenance can help extend its life.

How efficient are new dishwashers?

Good news! With advancements in technology and growing awareness of energy efficiency, newer dishwashers are far more energy-efficient than their older counterparts. Look for dishwashers with an ENERGY STAR® label, as they meet or exceed strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA. These models can save you both energy and money in the long run, even more than washing dishes by hand! (Not that we needed another excuse to ditch that ritual.)

How much, you may be wondering? A new ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher uses less than half of the energy used when washing dishes by hand - and it saves more than 8,000 gallons of water each year versus washing dishes by hand! A standard-sized ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher costs about $35 per year to run and can save you an average 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime. (Nearly the same amount of water as a 12x12 foot swimming pool!)

How much energy do dishwashers use when they’re running versus when they’re off?

 

While running a dishwasher consumes significant energy, it's essential to be mindful of the energy it uses even when it's off. (Though it’s far more minimal.) Many dishwashers have standby or "phantom" power consumption to power display panels and electronic features. If you’re concerned about phantom power and want to minimize this, consider unplugging the dishwasher when not in use if it’s not hardwired (look for an outlet under your sink) or use a smart plug to power it down in between cycles.

How often should you replace a dishwasher?

Knowing when to replace your dishwasher can be a bit tricky. If your current dishwasher is more than 10-12 years old and requires frequent repairs, it might be time to consider an upgrade. Newer models are not only more energy-efficient but also come with better features and enhanced cleaning capabilities.

Has the energy efficiency of dishwashers improved over the past 5-10 years?

Absolutely! Dishwasher manufacturers have made remarkable strides in improving energy efficiency over the past decade. Thanks to innovations in water heating, insulation, and motor technology, modern dishwashers deliver excellent performance while using less water and energy.

A person loads their dishwasher after learning about dishwasher energy use
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Ways to take your savings and sustainability to the next level

Now, let's explore some of our favorite ways to maximize your savings and environmental impact:

  • Don’t pre-rinse your dishes! Dishwashers these days have detectors that see how dirty your dishes are and how long they need to be washed for. (The future is now, right?) Contrary to your childhood experience with dishwashers, nowadays they’ll get clean in the dishwasher. Also, hot water is the second largest energy consumer in a home, so don’t waste it on dishes that you’re going to wash again.
  • Run the dishwasher at off-peak times: With your dishwasher using about 1500 watts per cycle (which costs about $.50 - $1.00 per cycle on California’s time of use plan) and being run on average 215 times per year, you can save $100 per year if you schedule the dishwasher to run outside of peak hours. (Hot tip: Most dishwashers also include a delay time start. You can still load the dishwasher right after dinner, but delay the start time so it runs during off-peak hours.)
  • Consider a cold water wash: Much of the energy used in dishwashing actually comes from heating the water for dishwashing (in your hot water heater) than the cycle itself. While most dishwashers on the market perform best when connected to hot water (and also include water heating inside the dishwasher to get temps even higher), there are a few that only require a cold water connection. Some dishwashers made by Bosch or Miele, for example, will work with water supply temperatures less than 120 degrees (though the cycle takes a few minutes longer as the dishwasher heats it up). Want to save the most energy? Find a dishwasher that runs on cold water - the water is still heated during the cycle, just locally by the dishwasher instead of your water heater.
  • Skip the dry cycle: Dishwashers typically have a heated dry cycle, and for everyday dishes, it’s not necessary. If you open the dishwasher right after the cycle ends, much of the remaining water will evaporate from the dishes. Otherwise, using a towel to dry is far more energy efficient. If you’re washing things that need an extra level of sanitation (ie: baby bottles, canning supplies, etc.), you can still use the heated dry cycle. Some machines even get specific about how hot the water used in the wash cycle is - adjusting that temperature down can save some energy.
  • Say goodbye to hand washing: A dishwasher uses about 6 gallons of water per cycle; about half the water usage of equivalent hand-washing. Buh-bye rubber gloves and fighting over whose turn it is to do the dishes!
  • Use eco-friendly dish soap: Opt for environmentally friendly, phosphate-free dishwashing detergents. They are kinder to the planet and still get your dishes spotless.
  • Adjust your habits: Scrape off food scraps instead of rinsing dishes before loading them, run the dishwasher only when you have a full load, and use the energy-saving or eco mode if available.
  • Conserve water: Use your dishwasher's water-saving features and choose the shortest cycle that gets the job done.
  • Regular maintenance: Keep your dishwasher in top-notch condition by cleaning filters, checking for leaks, and replacing worn-out parts promptly.

Energy efficient dishwashers we love

We did a deep dive into Consumer Reports, Energy Star rankings and customer reviews across the market. Here’s a roundup of the latest and greatest energy efficient dishwashers we found:

Bosch 300 Series SHEM63W55N

Dishwasher energy use: Bosch 300 Series SHEM63W55N dishwasher

Cost: $848 at Home Depot

Details: This Bosch dishwasher has:

  • An adjustable upper rack
  • A manually cleaned filter
  • A Stainless steel interior
  • Adjustable tines
  • Ample flatware slots
  • Energy Star certification
  • A third rack

Fisher & Paykel - DD24STX6I1

Dishwasher energy use: Fisher & Paykel - DD24STX6I1 dishwasher

Cost: $1,699 at Best Buy

Details: This Fisher & Paykel dishwasher has

  • An adjustable upper rack
  • A manually cleaned filter
  • A Stainless steel interior
  • Hidden controls
  • Adjustable tines
  • Ample flatware slots
  • Energy Star certification
  • A third rack
  • WiFi

Ikea Essentiell

Dishwasher energy use: IKEA Essentiell - DD24STX6I1 dishwasher

Cost: $899 at IKEA

Details: This Ikea fits a standard 24"-wide opening and has

  • An adjustable upper rack.
  • A self-cleaning filter.
  • A plastic interior.
  • Hidden controls
  • Adjustable tines.
  • Energy Star certification

GE GDT226SSLSS

Dishwasher energy use: GE GDT226SSLSS dishwasher

Cost: $999 at Lowes

Details:This GE dishwasher has

  • An adjustable upper rack
  • A manually cleaned filter
  • A Stainless steel interior
  • Hidden controls
  • Ample flatware slots
  • Energy Star certification

LG LDFC2423V

Dishwasher energy use: LG LDFC2423V

Cost: $498 at Home Depot

Details:This LG dishwasher has

  • An adjustable upper rack
  • A manually cleaned filter
  • A Stainless steel interior
  • Adjustable tines
  • Ample flatware slots
  • Energy Star certification

KitchenAid KDFM404KPS

Dishwasher energy use: KitchenAid KDFM404KPS

Cost: $948 at Home Depot

Details: This KitchenAid dishwasher has

  • An adjustable upper rack
  • A self-cleaning filter
  • A Stainless steel interior
  • Hidden controls
  • Adjustable tines
  • Ample flatware slots
  • Energy Star certification
  • A third rack

Whirlpool WDF590SAJM

Dishwasher energy use: Whirlpool WDF590SAJM

Cost: $720 at BestBuy

Details: This Whirlpool dishwasher has

  • An adjustable upper rack
  • A manually cleaned filter
  • A Stainless steel interior
  • Hidden controls
  • Adjustable tines
  • Ample flatware slots
  • Energy Star certification
  • A third rack

Miele G7156SCVI

Dishwasher energy use: MieleG7156SCVI

Cost: $1,749 at Appliances Connection

Details:This Miele dishwasher has

  • An adjustable upper rack
  • A manually cleaned filter
  • A Stainless steel interior
  • Hidden controls
  • Adjustable tines
  • Ample flatware slots
  • Energy Star certification
  • A third rack

Understanding dishwasher energy use is crucial for both your pocketbook and the planet. By opting for energy-efficient models, practicing smart habits, and embracing eco-friendly choices, you can be a sustainability champion in your kitchen. So, go ahead, load up that dishwasher, and let it do its magic guilt-free!

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