Wondering what appliances impact your electric bill the most? Or how much does it cost to run a dishwasher—or oven or dryer for that matter?

The answer to that question could have a serious impact on your budget, especially if you have time of use billing as I do. When that started several years ago, we all took the time to find out which appliances we should run in the evening when it cost less to do so.

The average dishwasher uses 1800 watts. The average residential cost per kWh in the US is 13.31¢. If your household runs the dishwasher for 1 hour 7 days a week, it works out to 1.8 kWh x 7 x .1331¢ = $1.67. That’s the national average. To find out your local cost, more information is required. 

And, of course, we have you covered when it comes to more information! We have a free calculator to help determine your local costs.

How to Use the Calculator

Remember, the above calculation is based on averages. The average wattage of a dishwasher and the average cost of electricity in the USA.  So plug in:

  • The size of your dishwasher
  • The types of loads you run (these two answers will help determine the wattage you use)
  • Your local electrical costs, which will calculate your cost per cycle ( you can use the table below as a guide, or a current electric bill for the exact amount)
  • How many loads a week you run
Average electricity cost per US State
Average electricity cost per US State to give you an idea

You now know either how much it will cost to run your dishwasher for a month or a year. You can also use my calculation above to arrive at how much it would cost per week or day if you want to get more granular.

Yes, Size Does Matter

open dishwasher
The size of your dishwasher does affect running costs

The size of your dishwasher and the types of cycles you use directly correspond to how much it will cost to run your dishwasher. There is no one size fits all.

As of 2003, the minimum Federal standard for energy use in a dishwasher is an “Energy Factor, or EF of at least 0.46 cycles/kWh for standard-size dishwashers for the “normal” cycle.” Having said that, there is a huge variation in the amount of energy different dishwasher models use. And using an Energy Star model could mean a reduction of about 30% in electricity costs.

So if you’re still in the research and shopping stage for a new dishwasher, keep that in mind. Although, even if you went for the largest model and used the energy eating cycles every day, it’s still not costing you that much over the course of a month or year. Relatively speaking.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Dishwasher

You cram your dirty dishes in and then pull out clean ones. That’s all there is to it, right?

Nope. That would be wrong. I mean, sure, we do put dirty dishes in and extract clean ones, but there is more to it than that.

Here are five things to remember if you want to get the most out of your dishwasher.

  • Load it correctly
  • Keep it clean
  • Use the correct setting
  • It cleans more than dishes
  • It doesn’t clean all kitchen stuff

Load it correctly. The water needs to reach the dirty side of your dishes, so make sure the dirty side is always in the path of water. That would be facing down or towards the center. Not only that, make sure nothing is loaded in a way that blocks something else. 

You might think cups and glasses go over the tines, but they go between them. This minimizes water spots and the chance of breakage.

Mugs in a dishwasher
Loading the dishwasher properly will give better results

When loading cutlery in the basket, forks go in tines up, knives go in blade down, and spoons go in both ways so they don’t nest together and block each other.

And if you aren’t running your dishwasher immediately after loading it, always pre-rinse. Dishes that have sat and allowed food to dry on them will not clean.

Keep it clean. Just because it’s an appliance that cleans things doesn’t mean it self-cleans while it cleans them.  Where do you think all those food bits that wash off your dishes go?

Remove any debris from the bottom of the dishwasher and the spray arm regularly. And follow the manufacturer’s recommendations around cleaning the filter. And once a month, run a cleaner through your dishwasher.

Use the correct setting.  Dishwashers have different settings. Each setting is for a specific type of job, so always choose the right one. If your dishes are only lightly soiled, there is an appropriate setting. Just as there will be—depending on your model, of course—settings for pots and pans, rinse and hold, and sanitizing.

It cleans more than dishes. Here is a list of the types of things you could put in the dishwasher:

  • Appliance knobs
  • Baseball caps
  • Flipflops
  • Hair and makeup brushes
  • Keyboards
  • Pet toys
  • Pet bowls
  • Soap dishes
  • Silicone oven mitts
  • Sponges
  • Stovetop grates
  • Toys
  • Toothbrushes
Keyboard in a dishwasher
Dishwashers can wash more than just dishes! Even keyboards can be cleaned with a sanitization mode

Of course, some common sense will be needed here. There could be exceptions to those categories. And some would need to be put in mesh bags.

The point is, you can really get your money’s worth out of your dishwasher when you use it for more than just dishes.

It doesn’t clean all kitchen stuff.  Crystal or china that has a decoration over the glaze could wash off in the dishwasher, so that’s a no-go. Anything wood, like spoons or cutting boards, cast iron, and stock pots and dutch ovens should never see the inside of a dishwasher.

Do Dishwashers Save Electricity Vs Handwashing?

Maybe. It depends.

Here are the variables to consider. How old is your dishwasher and does it have internal heaters? What wattage is your dishwasher? What wattage is your water heater?

In some cases, yes, the cost to heat your water may be less, meaning in that scenario it’s cheaper to run the dishwasher.

As to the actual washing part, unless you need to plug your hands in to get them to work, there are no electricity costs to handwashing dishes. It’s all about the cost to heat the water.

The other factor is your time. How much is that worth to you? Because depending on the number of dishes, it could take far longer to handwash.

Is It Bad to Run A Dishwasher Every Day?

Let’s let the experts answer this one.

According to Apartment Therapy, Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance, says the following.

“In the average home, the dishwasher is cycled five times per week. Based on this average, those who use their appliance less than five times are likely to have fewer repairs and replace their dishwasher less frequently than those who run it six or more times,”

The average lifespan of a dishwasher is about ten years. Based on that, if you run your dishwasher more than the average, your dishwasher will last just around seven years. And if you want it to last longer, you’ll need to use it less than the average.

I guess people with large families or people who regularly eat four or more course meals—with dishes for each—are out of luck in the lifespan of their dishwasher department.

Conclusion

So, is it your dishwasher that’s the reason behind those high energy bills? If you do have time of use rates, it is one of the appliances that is suggested to use off-peak hours. Especially if you have a dishwasher that runs for three or four hours.

Maybe you don’t have peak hour rates, and you just want to have an idea so you can budget expenses. The calculator will help with that.

So, thanks for reading! I hope I managed to answer any questions you might have. And why not check out the related posts below? Maybe something there can help you as well.