How to Save Time and Money with an Energy Star Dishwasher


Dishwashers aren’t technically a necessity, but we sure wouldn’t want to live without one! Not only do these powerful appliances save us time and effort but they also help to sanitize our dishes. Plus, some of the best models can make themselves part of the household, eliminating the need for pre-rinsing and making it easy to get all the day’s dishes packed inside.

When it comes to saving money, the best such dishwashers come with an Energy Star label. What is a label, and how can you find the best dishwasher for your household? Keeping reading for our complete guide!

The Secret Life of Dishwashers

Leave it to a woman to invent a dishwasher! That’s right, the first person to receive a dishwasher patent was a woman–in 1886. Josephine Cochrane, the granddaughter of the man who invented the steamboat, was frustrated by the number of fine dishes being broken by her servants. She decided to do something about it.

She measured her dishes, then developed a concept that included a copper boiler, metal wire compartments, a wheel to revolve the compartments, and a motor to power the whole thing. The invention was a hit at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with restaurants and hotels though it would take another sixty years before the public would show interest in the machine.

That same time was necessary for the continued evolution of technology so that dishwashers no longer cost the same as a housekeeper’s annual salary. Cochrane’s production company, however, eventually became the company we know today as KitchenAid. Thanks to Josephine’s brilliant invention, women around the globe have found their difficult domestic jobs lightened.

When it comes to saving money, the best such dishwashers come with an Energy Star label. What is a label, and how can you find the best dishwasher for your household? Keeping reading for our complete guide!

Why Energy Star?

Energy Star is a program developed in the early 90s by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It operates today in conjunction with the Department of Energy. While the current administration has threatened to do away with the agency, public outcry and some seriously money-saving results have kept it intact.

Why does Energy Star matter for you? For starters, the program was developed to help the United States cut its energy consumption and to save consumers money. Technology has improved to the point that both are possible and Energy Star highlighted this for consumers by developing a benchmark.

High Standards Consumers Rely On

By utilizing data collected in extensive surveys, Energy Star has created a set of regularly-updated standards for appliances, home construction materials, commercial and residential buildings, single-family homes, and many others. Products that meet or exceed standards in lab testing are allowed to affix the little blue Energy Star label.

Consumers have learned to trust Energy Star for its energy savings; in fact, most appliances are required to exceed minimum standards by as much as 41%, resulting in cost savings and the ability to quickly compare new appliances during purchasing.

In short, Energy Star has saved consumers millions of dollars and has saved greenhouse emissions, simultaneously.

How to Choose a Dishwasher that Saves You Money

There’s a dishwasher out there for everyone, and the best will help you save money while also being loaded with the features that make your life easier. Here are our tips for finding the right unit:

1. Choose the Right Style and Size

There are a variety of different dishwasher sizes and styles but the most common is probably the under-the-sink, built-in, traditional model. These most often come in counter-top heights are the larger 24” capacity, though you can find the less common 18” capacity unit.

The most important thing here is making sure your dishwasher door has enough clearance; it will need a wide footprint, so make sure you can walk around it even while it’s open. Otherwise, doing the dishes might become more painful, not less!

The other, less-popular option is the drawer model. Using a two-drawer system, these dishwashers are extremely flexible and great if you often need to run small loads. They do tend to be a bit pricier, however.

In addition to the two most popular models we’ve just mentioned, you can also find dishwashers in portable and miniature sizes. These might be less popular, but they are better suited to rental or apartment homes.

2. Look for Energy Savings Functions

A rule of thumb is that the more you pay for your new appliance, the more bells and whistles it will have. This isn’t always the case, but you want to make sure you’ve got a few of the basic dishwashing cycles covered. Look for light or delicate, rinse-only, and heavy wash cycles.

Some units will even be able to sense what kind of cycle is required and adjust accordingly mid-wash. Also, you can find dishwashers that come with scheduling options so you can schedule a wash at night, when temperatures are coolest, or during off-peak electricity times.

While we’ve already discussed the Energy Star rating system above, it’s worth mentioning again, because it goes a long way towards helping you save on energy costs. In fact, if your current dishwasher is older then ten or fifteen years, you could save as much as 1000 gallons of water a year–that’s how much better efficiency has gotten over the last decade.

Finally, if you’re serious about saving your time and hot water before you even start the dishwasher, you’ll want a unit that eliminates the need for pre-rinsing. Keep in mind, this kind of model should be prepared to handle the large sediment that piles up after a wash–look for a disposal or removable filter.

3. Prioritize Good Organization

A popular feature on today’s most forward-facing dishwashers is the third rack. Being able to change how your racks are set up helps you get the most dishes inside, making for the most efficient washes.

Sometimes you might have to pay more upfront for these premium features, but being able to run one load instead of two will add up big time.

4. Silence is Golden

The last thing you’ll want to pay attention to is how load the Energy Star dishwasher you’re considering will be when you run it. Silence is typically a feature that you’ll have to pay more, and it might not matter to you at all. Keep in mind, however, that a loud dishwasher can be heard throughout the house.

Money Saving Tips

Saving money while you’re washing dishes extends beyond just purchasing an Energy Star dishwasher (though that’s an excellent place to begin). Here are a few other tips that will have your wallet–and the environment–singing.

Don’t Run a Partially Filled Load

Whether you have a top-of-the-line, Energy Star dishwasher or you’re using a ten-year-old hand me down, one of the most important things you can do to save energy is to always utilize your entire dishwasher. Running it before it’s full just costs you more in the long run.

One of the tips we love to suggest is to lower or raise your top rack. Most people don’t know you can do this, but most dishwashers allow this small customization that might just allow you to get even more dishes into that appliance!

You can also find aftermarket accessories like pacifier baskets and extra racks to help you hold those small, hard-to-clean items in place.

Use Less Water and Heat

Pre-rinsing dishes can cost you an extra 55,000 gallons of water over the life of your dishwasher (usually about ten years). Cost of water (and the cost to heat that water) varies by location, but that adds up to big money savings over time.

Even if it feels weird to not clean your dishes before you clean them, refrain! Only pre-rinse when you absolutely must.

In addition to skipping the extra hand-cleaning, skip the electric drying. Use the air dry feature on your dishwasher and if there’s not one, opt to crack open the dishwasher door. When all else fails, grab a cloth and wipe those dishes dry. Heat is the most expensive kind of energy to produce, so the less heat you run, the more you’ll save!

Be Smart About When You Clean

We’ve already mentioned this tip before, but it’s worth repeating: when you run your dishwasher can impact your energy bill! Running it in the middle of the day in the summer, for example, can heat up your kitchen and increase your cooling costs. Running it during peak energy periods (usually the late afternoon/early evening) is also often more expensive.

An Energy Star dishwasher can save you time and money and positively impact the environment. Now that you know what to look for, we can’t wait to hear which model you bring home!