Energy Star Dishwashers: Choose, Use Wisely and Save (More) Money


The dishwasher you choose can make a difference in your electric and water bills. Dishwashers use 37% less water than hand washing; heating the water still takes a considerable amount of energy. So what should you do?

When it comes to saving energy with your appliances, dishwashers are one of the main contenders to consider. From the wash cycle to heated drying, washing your dishes can be an intensive daily process. Most current dishwashers are actually Energy Star qualified. But what does that really mean, and how can you make the most of yours?

What is an ENERGY STAR dishwasher?

According to, dishwashers that are Energy Star qualified are “on average, 10% more energy efficient and 12% more water efficient than standard models.” It’s also estimated that you can save an average of 1,300 gallons of water overall using an Energy Star dishwasher.

According to Ryan Helmstetter of Karl’s Appliance Store in New Jersey, buying an Energy Star dishwasher is worth your investment considering how much less water you use. Some states even have rebate programs on these dishwashers to encourage you to buy them.

Choosing an energy efficient dishwasher

Don’t just consider the price tag on your dishwasher – there is also a price tag on how much it will cost you to operate. The Consumer Energy Center recommends looking for dishwashers with special energy-saving or short-wash cycles. You may want to consider a dishwasher with a soil sensor, which will adjust the amount of water used based on how dirty your dishes are. Also, pick a dishwasher that gives you the option to air-dry your dishes.

Be sure to consider size as well. If you have a family, compact capacity may seem like it is saving you energy, but you’ll actually have to run the dishwasher more often because it holds less. Opt for the bigger size, and only run your dishwasher when it’s full. It’s also recommended to locate your dishwasher away from your refrigerator. The heat from the dishwasher will make your refrigerator work harder.

dishwasher_saves_energyCheck out any extra settings that will help you save energy and money. Heating water uses a lot of energy, so the ability to control the water temperature is a definite eco-friendly extra. You can turn down the thermostat for dishes that aren’t as dirty.

Tips for using your Energy Star dishwasher

Aside from having an Energy Star qualified appliance, utilizing the proper settings will help you save even more. Use short cycles regularly, unless you have really dirty dishes. This will use much less energy. Avoid the heated-dry option as well, and let dishes dry naturally.

When you load your dishwasher, there’s no need to clean off your dishes first. Lowe’s estimates you will save 55,000 gallons of water in the lifetime of your dishwasher by not rinsing dishes. Be sure to fully load your dishwasher before running it, and run it at night if possible. Real Simple explains that utility companies charge more to run appliances during peak hours.

Remember to only run your dishwasher when it’s completely full, since you’re using the same amount of water regardless of how full it is. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy suggests using the rinse and hold feature on some dishwashers to prevent food build up and save water on pre-rinsing.

Stricter federal energy standards went into effect last year for dishwashers and in 2015 for clothes washers. Dishwashers sold beginning 2013 will use about 15 percent less energy and more than 20 percent less water than the current standard. The manufacturers will undoubtedly pass along the cost to consumers, but it’s estimated lower utility bills should offset additional upfront costs within about two years for both products.

Marly Schuman Marly Schuman (84 Posts)

Marly Schuman is a former content specialist at Viewpoints.