Do Dishwashers Use a Lot of Electricity? What to Expect

The answer is no, dishwashers do not use a lot of electricity compared to other appliances in your home. However, the amount of electricity a dishwasher uses depends on several factors, such as the model, the cycle, and the water heater. In this article, we will explain how dishwashers work, how much electricity they use, and how you can save energy and money by using them wisely.

How Dishwashers Work

Dishwashers are designed to clean your dishes with hot water and detergent. The water is heated by either the dishwasher’s own heater or the water heater in your home. The water is then sprayed by a pump and a motor onto the dishes, which are loaded in racks inside the dishwasher. The water is drained and replaced several times during the cycle, depending on the soil level and the type of dishes. Some dishwashers also have a heated drying option, which uses a heating element to dry the dishes after the final rinse.

How Much Electricity Dishwashers Use

The electricity consumption of a dishwasher depends on its wattage, which is the amount of power it can use at a given time. The wattage of a dishwasher ranges from 600 to 2,500 watts, depending on the model and the features. The older the dishwasher, the higher the wattage, and the more electricity it uses. The newer the dishwasher, the lower the wattage, and the more energy-efficient it is.

However, the wattage alone does not tell the whole story. To calculate the actual electricity usage of a dishwasher, we need to multiply the wattage by the time it runs in hours. This gives us the kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is the unit of energy used by your utility company to bill you. The average dishwasher uses about 1.17 kWh per cycle, which translates to about 251.81 kWh per year, assuming 215 cycles per year[^1^][1].

But that’s not all. The dishwasher also uses hot water, which is heated by either the dishwasher’s own heater or the water heater in your home. The water heater also consumes electricity (or gas, depending on the type) to heat the water. The amount of water a dishwasher uses per cycle varies from 4 to 15 gallons, depending on the age and the efficiency of the dishwasher[^2^][2]. The older and less efficient the dishwasher, the more water it uses, and the more energy it consumes to heat the water.

To estimate the total energy cost of a dishwasher, we need to add the electricity cost of the dishwasher itself and the electricity cost of the water heater. The average electricity cost in the US is about 13 cents per kWh[^3^][3]. The average water heating cost is about 0.6 cents per gallon. Therefore, the total energy cost of a dishwasher per cycle is about 22 cents, which adds up to about \$47 per year, assuming 215 cycles per year.

How to Save Energy and Money with Dishwashers

As you can see, dishwashers do not use a lot of electricity compared to other appliances in your home, such as the refrigerator, the air conditioner, or the dryer. However, you can still save energy and money by using your dishwasher wisely. Here are some tips to help you do that:

• Choose an energy-efficient dishwasher. Look for the Energy Star label, which means the dishwasher meets the strict energy efficiency standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). Energy Star dishwashers use about 12% less energy and 30% less water than standard models.
• Load your dishwasher properly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to load your dishwasher for optimal cleaning and efficiency. Do not overload or underload your dishwasher, as this can affect the performance and the energy consumption. Scrape off large food particles from your dishes, but do not pre-rinse them, as this wastes water and energy.
• Choose the right cycle. Use the cycle that matches the soil level and the type of dishes you are washing. Avoid using the heavy or pots and pans cycle, unless necessary, as this uses more water and energy. Use the light or eco cycle, if available, as this uses less water and energy. Skip the heated drying option, if possible, as this doubles the electricity consumption of the dishwasher. Instead, let your dishes air dry or towel dry them.
• Run your dishwasher at off-peak hours. Check with your utility company if they offer time-of-use rates, which means the electricity price varies depending on the time of day. If they do, run your dishwasher at night or early morning, when the electricity demand and price are lower. This can help you save money on your electricity bill.
• Maintain your dishwasher regularly. Clean the filter, the spray arms, and the door seal of your dishwasher regularly to remove any dirt or debris that can affect the performance and the efficiency of the dishwasher. Check for any leaks or damages and repair them as soon as possible. Replace your dishwasher if it is more than 10 years old, as newer models are more energy-efficient and cost-effective.