Skip To Content
Does using a dishwasher save money

Does using a dishwasher save money?

We bust the myths on dishwasher costs.

With so many appliances in our household, it’s often easy to overlook the ones we use on a daily basis – like the dishwasher. Fortunately, a dishwasher’s regular usage is relatively inexpensive, especially if you opt for an energy efficient model.

So, what’s the best dishwasher for your money? Dishwashers in Canada can have two labels1:

- The ENERGY STAR symbol, which means the model is highly energy efficient, or;

- The EnerGuide label, which shows the model’s energy consumption and how it compares to similar models.

Dishwashers with an ENERGY STAR certification are tested to meet strict efficiency specifications, although they perform the same, if not better, than standard models. Features include special sensors to detect how dirty your dishes are mid-wash so the machine can alter its cycle to get maximum results, and more efficient jets that use less water.

How much does it cost to use a dishwasher?

Obviously, the main cost of using a dishwasher stems from electricity and hot water usage (not including the upfront cost of purchasing a dishwasher and consequently, detergent). However, since your dishwasher can hold more dishes than the average kitchen sink, you are less likely to run your machine as often as you would handwash. Plus, modern dishwashers contain interior water heaters that warm up far more efficiently than your general household water heater – meaning a certified ENERGY STAR dishwasher can actually use less than half the energy of handwashing.2

Energy companies charge more at peak times, so the best time to run the dishwasher is when other people aren’t using their own. The most popular times for people to run their dishwasher are naturally around lunch and dinner after they have eaten, so hold off turning it on at that time. Instead, do it just before you go to bed, or, if you have a ‘delay start’ setting, set it to go off after midnight!

If you do set it off late at night, and therefore have time on your side, consider putting it on for a longer cycle too. Most modern-day dishwashers will have an eco-setting, which can save up to 20% of your energy usage by using less power to heat up the water and running through a slower cycle.

What is cheaper to use – a dishwasher or washing by hand?

We’ve already mentioned both the benefits and the upfront costs of dishwashers, but how does this compare to hand washing? Along with the water and energy to heat the water, rubber gloves, dish soap and sponges are needed to achieve a good clean with hand washing.

The typical modern dishwasher can use between 13-30 litres of water per load; however, hand-washing dishes can use significantly more. Using a dishwasher can help reduce the amount of water used – as well as the energy needed to heat it up – which can save you money in the long run.

Additionally, a great benefit of using Finish® detergents with your dishwasher is that you won’t need to waste any water pre-rinsing your dishes. You could save water, energy and money by skipping the pre-rinse altogether. Instead, scrape excess food off before loading the machine,  use Finish® Quantum UltimateTM, and let the machine do all the hard work for you. This could save you up to 75 litres of water per load! 

How to save money when using your dishwasher

There are several factors that will determine how much a dishwasher cycle will cost. From the model of the dishwasher you have, to the energy supplier you’re with, and even down to how you stack your dishes. So, if you’re wondering if it is cheaper to use a dishwasher or wash by hand, the answer is that it’s more economical to use a dishwasher – if you follow some simple steps.

  1. Wait until you have a full load. This way, you will reduce the number of cycles you will need to run in a month. Simple!
  2. Don’t over-stuff your dishwasher. If you have a large family, you’ll probably nail the first step, but you may have trouble with this second one! By over-stuffing your dishwasher, you’re not only jeopardizing the quality of the clean, but you could also cause serious damage to your machine. Ensure the dishwasher is correctly loaded and that there’s room on the inside for the cycle to work effectively.
  3. Always clean and maintain your dishwasher. Nothing says ‘money drainer’ like a call-out from your local dishwasher repairman! Always use a quality detergent like Finish® Quantum UltimateTM and keep the inside of your dishwasher clean and free of food scraps to avoid limescale build-up and clogging, which could cause expensive issues down the track.
  4. Consider upgrading your dishwasher to an energy-saving model. These days, modern dishwashers are far more energy efficient than their historical counterparts. Spend a little more upfront on a quality machine and you could save bucket loads over time.

Keen to find out if it is better to handwash or use the dishwasher in the long run? Read our article on dishwashing vs handwashing to find out where you could be making savings