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

Freeing yourself from the washing-up is easy thanks to the convenience of dishwashers. But how much does it cost to run 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 the 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%.

But will using a dishwasher cause your utility bills to increase dramatically? We’ve worked out how much you can expect to spend each cycle – as well as tips to reduce your energy usage.

concealed wooden door dishwasher in kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC)

How much does it cost to run a dishwasher?

According to the Energy Saving Trust, (opens in new tab) the national average price (as of November 2021) per pence/kWh of electricity is 20.33p. We have rounded it to 20p for illustration purposes.

The main factors that affect how much energy a dishwasher uses 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 £42.80 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 £53.20 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?

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 running costs. 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 £42.20 to run over a year.

Over the lifetime of a dishwasher, the energy savings can be significant.  ‘The B-rated Hotpoint HIP 4O539 WLEGT UK has up to a £301 lifetime energy saving, compared to the least efficient model in the UK,’ says Kimberley Garner, Hotpoint Brand Manager. ‘It’ll cost £31.58 to run for a year, according to energy savings tool Youreko, based on it being used five times a week with an energy tariff of 18.86p per kWh.’

kitchen with dishwasher under black worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC/Richard Gadsby)

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

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. ‘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 Garner.
  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 – A clean dishwasher is an efficient one, 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 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.