How much does it cost to run a dishwasher? And how can you save?

Are you wondering how much it costs to run a dishwasher? We've worked it out and have found ways to cut your spend

concealed wooden door dishwasher in kitchen
(Image credit: Future PLC)
Recent updates

This article has been updated to show the new cost to run based on the January Energy Price Cap. It has also been fact-checked and any out-of-date information removed. 

Choosing between the ease of a dishwasher versus washing dishes by hand might seem like a no-brainer. However spiralling energy costs have made many of us reassess whether this home convenience could be wracking up a serious bill. We've looked into how much does it cost to run a dishwasher, to help you work out whether to embrace or forget a dishwasher.

You might be aware that the latest models aren’t the water-guzzling appliances they used to be. Plus modern smart meters help households monitor their energy usage. So exactly how much energy does a dishwasher use? According to the Energy Saving Trust’s At Home With Water report, hand-washing dishes accounts for around 4% of the average household’s water use, while a dishwasher is only 1%.

How much does it cost to run a dishwasher?

Blue cabinets with dishwasher in kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Will using a dishwasher cause your utility bills to increase dramatically? We’ve worked out how much does it cost to run a dishwasher based on the latest energy price cap figures – as well as tips to reduce your energy usage.

Energy prices have dominated the headlines over the last year, spiralling to record highs. In October 2022, the energy price cap rose to 34p per kWh. This was lowered to 30p in July 2023, and was lowered again from 1st October 2023 to 27p per kWh. However, from 1st January 2024 it will rise again to 29p per kWh.

We have used 29p to demonstrate the highest amount it could cost to run a dishwasher. However, for a more accurate figure, you would need to see your energy bill to find out how much you pay per pence/kWH.

The main factors that affect how much energy does a dishwasher use are its efficiency rating (machines are rated A-G for energy), and wash length and temperature.

  • An example B-rated 14-place full-sized dishwasher with an average annual energy consumption of 214 kWh would cost £62.06 a year to run.
  • Whereas an example F-rated 14-place full-sized dishwasher with an average annual energy consumption of 266 kWh would cost £77.14 to run per year.

Bear in mind that energy labels are usually based on the eco programme, meaning that auto or standard programmes may be more expensive to run.

Are some dishwashers cheaper to run than others?

kitchen with dishwasher under black worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC/Richard Gadsby)

If you're looking for ways to save energy at home, these clever dishwasher features will come in handy:

Dishwashers are available as full-sized models for a 60cm-wide space or slimline, which fits a 45cm gap. Which size you choose will have an impact on how much does it cost to run a dishwasher. For example, slimline dishwashers tend to be lower rated for energy efficiency – typically D-F are available – but if they’re being used at the same frequency, they can be more cost-effective than washing half-loads in a full-sized model.

An example D-rated slimline 10-place dishwasher could have average annual running costs of 211 kWh, meaning that it’ll only cost £61.19 to run over a year.

Over the lifetime of a dishwasher, the energy savings can be significant.

What energy saving features should I look for when buying a dishwasher?

When buying a new machine, look for the best dishwasher for you, in terms of size, style and, of course, energy saving features.

Blue cabinets with dishwasher in kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC)

1. Air drying

Rather than use heated air to dry dishes, this feature opens the dishwasher door so the contents can dry naturally. ‘Hotpoint ActiveDry technology automatically opens the door by up to 10cm at the end of the cycle,’ explains Kimberley Garner, Brand Manager, Hotpoint. ‘This not only offers up to 99 per cent better drying results on integrated models, but also reduces energy consumption by up to 22 per cent.

2. Eco programme

Most dishwashers feature an eco setting. This is a longer, low-temperature wash cycle that uses time rather than high water temperatures to get your crockery clean. 

Plus, as dishes are soapy for longer, the detergent has more time to work, decreasing the amount of effort, and energy, that your dishwasher has to put in. Which? estimates that eco programmes save around 20-40% less energy and water.

3. Auto programme

If you’re not sure what programme to choose, the auto setting takes away the guesswork. It uses sensors to detect how dirty your dishes are, choosing the optimal temperature and amount of water for that particular load. This saves energy if you tend to choose an intensive 60C when your crockery only needs 40C, for example.

How can I cut the cost of running a dishwasher?

1. Fill it up

Wait until your dishwasher is full before you run a cycle. A half-empty appliance uses a similar amount of energy to clean fewer dishes. If you really need to run it, look for features that allow you to wash a half load more efficiently. 

‘Hotpoint’s 3D Zone Wash technology makes sure the right amount of water is used throughout the selected basket for 40% more energy efficiency for smaller loads,’ says Kimberley from Hotpoint.

2. Load like a pro

Rewashing dishes is a waste of energy. While overloading can cause this, often, water from the spray arms may not be able to reach dishes because they’re not in the right place. 

Make sure that large items sit at the back and sides, with pans at the bottom so they get an intensive clean. Use supports for plastic containers so they don’t flip over (or lean a heavier item against them) and mix up cutlery in the basket so that spoons and forks don’t ‘nest’.

3. Wash your dishwasher

Learning how to clean a dishwasher will keep it as efficient one as possible, so keep it as sparkling as your sink. Pop in a dishwasher cleaning tablet or solution on a monthly basis to whisk away food debris and limescale.

Rachel Ogden

Rachel Ogden is a freelance journalist with more than 20 years’ experience of writing, editing and sub-editing. Since 2007, she's worked exclusively in interiors, writing about everything from extending your home to kitchen worktops, flooring, storage and more. She specialises in product reviews, having reviews hundreds of small and large appliances and homeware.