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11 Ways to Save Money on Dishwasher Use

Updated on January 5, 2011

Also save money by making your own dishwasher detergent!

There are many appliances in your home that cost you money to operate. The dishwasher is a big culprit in many homes. The more that it’s used, the higher the utility bills are. This is not due so much to the water that is used in the dishwasher. Instead, it is because of the cost of the energy required to operate the machine. It’s the electric bill that goes up when you run the dishwasher day and night.

If you’re interested in frugal living then you may choose not to use a dishwasher at all. Truly frugal people will wash their dishes by hand, often even using filtered rainwater to reduce the cost of washing them even more. However, for those of us who live in the real world with our busy lives and penchants for convenience, giving up the dishwasher may not feel like an option. That’s okay; there are things that you can do to save money when operating the dishwasher at home.

Here are eleven tips to follow if you want to reduce the cost that your dishwasher is causing.

1.     Replace your existing dishwasher with one that is more energy efficient. Sometimes you really do have to spend money in order to save money. This is one example of that. It pays off to invest in the most energy-efficient dishwasher available. Look for one that has an Energy Star rating. Take the time to review your options. Before making a purchase, check to see if any government rebates are being offered in your area. After making the purchase, look for options to resell your used dishwasher to offset the cost of the new purchase. When you switch to an energy-efficient dishwasher you should see an immediate reduction in the cost of your electricity bill even if you don’t make any of the other changes suggested in this article.

2.     Make sure that you use the energy efficient settings on your dishwasher. Whether or not you need to invest in a new dishwasher, you need to make sure that you’re using the dishwasher in the most energy efficient manner possible. Some dishwashers make this really simple by offering a setting right on the machine that is called “energy efficient” or “economy”. Another thing to look for in terms of the settings is the option to “air dry” the dishes. These lower settings use less energy and will cost you less each month as a result.

3.     Do a manual air dry of the dishes. One of the things that will cost a lot of money when it comes to using your dishwasher is the cost to heat up the dishwasher to dry the dishes. If you don’t have an automatic “air dry” setting on your dishwasher then you should get in the habit of manually air drying the dishes. This is a lot easier than it sounds. All that it means is that instead of having the dishwasher dry the dishes, you stop the dishwasher at the appropriate time (immediately after the rinse cycle) and open the dishwasher door so that the dishes can dry naturally in the air. Figure out how long your dishwasher cycle lasts and set a timer to remind you when it’s time to go open that dishwasher door. You can save yourself a lot of money this way!

4.     Replace your existing energy company with a supplier that can offer you a better price on electricity. Did you know that the electricity industry has been deregulated so that there can no longer be a monopoly by a single company in any one area? This means that you actually have the right to shop around and find an energy supplier that can provide you with the same access to electricity at a lower cost. Like with the option of replacing your dishwasher, making this change will allow you to immediately reduce the cost of your energy bill even if you opt not to make any of the other recommended changes for reducing the cost of operating your dishwasher.

5.     Run the dishwasher during your off peak hours. Many electric companies charge a higher rate for operating appliances during peak times. Find out when it is most cost effective to run your appliances and use your dishwasher only during this time of day. It’s a habit that can save you a lot of money.

6.    Always do a full load of dishes. You should never run a dishwasher with only a few items in it because this is just a waste of money. You should always wait until you have a full load of dishes before you choose to run the machine. Otherwise, you’re running the machine frequently for no real reason and each time that you run it you’re costing yourself money. If you only have a few items to wash and you really need them to get clean then you should just wash them by hand.

7.    Learn how to properly load your dishwasher. Challenge yourself to adequately load the dishwasher to its fullest capacity in the most organized way possible. The goal is to make sure that every single item in the dishwasher gets washer properly so that it doesn’t need to be washed a second time. Many dishwasher manuals come with proper loading instructions and/ or tips for maximizing your load.

8.     Rinse the dishes for as little time as possible. Most dishwashers have multiple settings for how long the rinse cycle is going to last. You may choose to rinse dishes for a very long period of time when they are particularly dirty. This is a mistake because that rinse cycle uses hot water and that hot water costs you a lot of money on your energy bill. If you have dishes that are especially dirty pre-rinse them by hand using cold water. This will allow you to run the dishwasher for only a regular amount of rinsing time, reducing the cost of operating the dishwasher.

9.     Clean the heating element on the dishwasher. One of the reasons that your dishwasher may be costing you too much money is because the elements used to heat the water during the wash cycle is dirty. This makes it inefficient so it has to work harder to operate properly. If you keep it clean then you won’t have this problem and your bills should be lower. To clean it, you simply need to locate it using your owner’s manual for assistance. Then you should wipe it down with a soft, dry rag. Do this monthly.

10. Relocate or insulate your dishwasher. Did you know that if your dishwasher is located very close to another energy-draining appliances like a refrigerator then they can actually have to work harder to operate properly? If this is the situation in your home then you should relocate your dishwasher if possible or else insulate it to eliminate the problem.

11. Switch to solar energy. If you invest in a solar hot water heater then you’ll be using the power of the sun to operate your dishwasher instead of paying the cost on your electric bill each month. This is a great green way to lower your energy costs.


Submit a Comment

  • Glenn Stok profile image

    Glenn Stok 

    5 years ago from Long Island, NY

    Newer dishwashers have a setting to not use the heating element to dry the dishes. I run the dishwasher in the evening, so that it finishes before I go to bed. So I open the door to let the dishes air dry when it's done, and the dishes are dry in the morning without having used any heat.

  • Efficient Admin profile image

    Michelle Dee 

    6 years ago from Charlotte, NC

    Great insights on using a dish washer. You can save a lot of the dish washing detergent by filling the cap (that has a lid), and leave empty the pre-wash. The dishes will still get clean. Voted up and useful.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    8 years ago from London, UK

    Very interesting tip about the location of the dishwasher

  • dallas93444 profile image

    Dallas W Thompson 

    8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

    Good points. Thanks for sharing.

  • SweetiePie profile image


    8 years ago from Southern California, USA

    I really love doing dishes, and if I ever buy my own house one day, well I will definitely purchase an energy efficient dishwasher.

  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 

    8 years ago from San Francisco

    These are great tips, and though I thought I knew them all, there were some things here (such as being extra careful about insulation) that I was not aware of. Thanks for sharing!

  • onceuponatime66 profile image

    Jackie Paulson 

    8 years ago from USA IL

    The best way to save is: we don't have one, we wash the old fashion way but this is a great insightful hub on how to save money on dishwashers.


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