We adore the convenience afforded by using a dishwasher, especially at the end of a long day. But for years, these effortless appliances were held back by common beliefs that dishwashers are a major contributor to the utility bill.
However, there’s plenty of evidence revealing this as a common misconception. In truth, modern dishwashers are the most efficient way to wash dishes, using less energy and less water than washing by hand.
The Modern Dishwasher Difference
Most modern dishwashers are considered efficient. They’re designed to operate using minimal water to achieve the desired results and consume little electricity throughout the cycle.
It’s a given that all modern dishwashers are more efficient than earlier models, but some are specifically designed to go above and beyond to save on your utility bill.
The most advanced models will utilise features that detect the dirtiness of dishes and apply the appropriate amount of water or wash in an economical manner that’s more efficient than others, relying on less energy to get the job done.
The best way to tell if the desired model is efficient is to check its Energy Star rating sticker, which most appliances must lawfully carry when sold in Australia.
Dishwasher vs Washing by Hand
Washing dishes by hand appears to cost nothing beyond a little physical exertion, so it seems logical that this approach would be more cost-effective than running the dishwasher. Yet, studies have found the opposite to be true.
Energy Usage Comparison
Water heating is one of the heavy hitters on your utility bill, accounting for over 20% of all electricity usage within the home. Consider that a hot water system is working around the clock providing hot water for your bathroom, kitchen and laundry.
Modern dishwashers have their own heating elements to warm water more efficiently than if relying on a water heater. Studies have shown that a modern, efficient dishwasher can use less than half the energy of washing dishes by hand.
It can be tricky putting a dollar value on electricity used to heat water in the sink, but you can easily estimate the expected energy costs of a dishwasher.
5 Steps to Estimating Dishwasher Energy Usage
- Find the printed star label on the unit itself or info within an online listing that states a dishwasher’s kilowatt usage per hour (kWh).
- Locate a recent utility bill to reveal what you currently pay per kilowatt. Energy prices differ in Australia from state to state and from provider to provider. So a recent statement will provide the most accurate estimate.
- Multiply a dishwasher’s kilowatt usage by the price on a bill to estimate what the appliance would cost per hour.
- You can now use this to estimate weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual costs based on how many hours you expect to run the appliance.
- There’s a difference between on peak and off peak energy prices, so running appliances at night will incur lower costs.
Water Usage Comparison
Considering the size of a dishwasher, this may come as a surprise, but modern dishwashers use less water than what’s required to fill a standard kitchen sink. CHOICE reports that average households without dishwashers use 31 litres of water per day or 11,315 litres per year to fill the sink alone.
Alternatively, Canstar Blue reveals that standard dishwashers use an average of 11.5 litres of water to clean a full load. That’s almost a third of the water used in a sink. So if you were to run a dishwasher once a day, it would use just 4,197.5 litres of water each year. That’s savings of over 7,000 litres.
It’s true that water is not expensive. But every dollar adds up. And by not washing by hand, you have more free time to do absolutely anything else, which is always preferable to having your hands in the kitchen sink.
Unless you’re relying on a rainwater tank for water and solar energy for your water heater, an efficient dishwasher comes out the clear winner. Just make sure you wait until there’s a full load of dishes. Multiple partial loads throughout a day won’t save on energy or water.
Further Dishwasher Energy Saving Tips
If you want to take your energy saving even further to lower the price on each utility bill, consider the following these tips:
- Avoid pre-rinsing dishes in the sink. Modern dishwashers typically feature a pre-rinse cycle. So simply scrape your food scraps into the bin, then it’s straight in the dishwasher.
- Wait until you have enough dishes to fill the machine before running the cleaning cycle, or consider an economy cycle if it’s only a small load of dishes.
- Run the dishwasher in its energy saving or economy mode. This may not clean as thoroughly as a standard cycle but should use less energy throughout.
- Wait until after 9pm to run the dishwasher to take advantage of off-peak rates and not have to deal with any potential noise.
If you’re still unsatisfied with the reduction of your quarterly utility bill, consider installing a solar hot water system to cut down on the cost of the hot water used in other rooms like the bathroom and laundry.
If the budget permits, a dishwasher can be an incredibly worthwhile addition to every kitchen. It’s possible to tackle dishwasher installation as a DIY project, although there’s a lot to consider.
Standard dishwasher installation involves cabinetry work, plus connecting the unit to your water, electrical supply and drainage. Those knowledgeable ‘on the tools’ may want to proceed without assistance, and the unit’s instructions may reveal what you need to know.
But without easy access to the utilities, you will want to call in a professional. This is the best way to guarantee a job done right and your long term peace of mind. Using a licensed plumber will ensure there are no shock disasters with water leaks or messy drainage problems.
Book a Plumber Online to take advantage of our 24/7 availability, and we can often take care of dishwasher installation on the same day. We can also organise an electrician to install a powerpoint if required. You won’t have to wait long for the convenience of a dishwasher and to start saving on that utility bill.