How much does it cost to run a dishwasher and is it cheaper than washing up by hand?

With energy bills still high on the agenda, how much does it cost to run a dishwasher?

Two tween girls loading a dishwasher in their kitchen at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the latest instalment of our appliance running cost articles, we're answering how much does it cost to run a dishwasher. Dishwashers used to be a luxury appliance for the cash-rich and time-poor, but they’ve fast become a must-have for most households.

With families still concerned about how much their energy bills will cost (opens in new tab), households will be looking for tips on how to save energy in homes (opens in new tab) where they can. But does using a dishwasher save you money or would you be better off rolling up your sleeves and washing your plates by hand?

Goodto.com's Money Editor Sarah Handley (opens in new tab) says: "Even with the Energy Price Guarantee in effect, we're still paying more for our energy than ever before. That's means it's never been more important to understand how much our most often used appliances cost to run and how we can keep those costs as low as possible."

 How much does it cost to run a dishwasher? 

A 1.5kW dishwasher will cost about 51p to run for an hour on a standard cycle. Doing one load a day will cost £3.57 a week. This works out as about £15.47 per month and around £185.64 a year. But the exact running costs will depend on a few factors, including the make and model of your dishwasher, your chosen cycle, how often you use it and how much you pay for your energy. 

Les Roberts (opens in new tab), content manager at energy comparison website Bionic, says: “The average dishwasher uses between 1.2 and 1.5kWh of electricity per load. The exact energy usage and running cost will depend on your specific model, the cycle you use and your current energy tariff."

According to dishwasher manufacturer Beko, the average household does 280 standard wash cycles a year (about five washes a week). Let's see how the costs would compare for using this 1.5kW example dishwasher if you only used it five times a week (which would mean 280 uses per year) rather than daily.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Per weekPer monthPer year
Daily use£3.57£15.51£186.15
Average 5x per week£2.55£11.90£142.80

As you can see in the table above, over the course of a year, it would cost you an extra £43.35 to use your dishwasher daily compared to the average five times per week. This calculation is based on a cost of 34p per kWh of electricity. This is the maximum unit price energy providers can charge under the Energy Price Guarantee which came into effect on 1 October. 

Originally due to be in place for two years, new chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced that the guarantee will now only stand for six months. So, the cost of running your dishwasher – and everything else – could increase next spring.

What is my dishwasher’s annual energy consumption?

Dishwasher energy labels and online specifications will provide an estimate of an appliance’s ‘annual energy consumption’. Although individual washing habits will vary, the annual energy consumption figure can be a good way to compare the energy efficiency of different dishwashers before you buy one. 

You’ll need to multiply the annual energy consumption of a dishwasher with the unit cost of electricity to get an idea of how much it costs to run the appliance each year.

Here are some examples of different dishwashers and how much they cost to run based on current energy prices of 34p per unit of electricity. 

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Header Cell - Column 0 Energy ratingPlace settingsAnnual energy consumptionCost per use (based on 280 cycles per year)Cost per year
Miele*C14208kWh25p£70.72
Hotpoint*D14238kWh29p£80.92
Siemens*F10211kWh26p£71.74

* Miele G7362SCVi Wifi Connected Fully Integrated Standard Dishwasher, Hotpoint HFC3T232WFGXUK Standard Dishwasher, Siemens IQ-300 SR23EI28ME Wifi Connected Slimline Dishwasher 

Bear in mind that energy labels are usually based on each machine’s ‘eco’ programme, meaning other programmes, including the appliance's default or auto programme, may be more expensive to run. 

Household appliance running costs Oct 2022

(Image credit: Future)

Take a look at other guides in our appliance running cost series:

What are the different types of dishwasher?

Dishwashers can be slimline for smaller households or full-size for bigger households. They can be either built-in/integrated or standalone/portable. And when manufacturers talk about dishwasher size they often refer to ‘place settings’. 

According to dishwasher manufacturer Beko, one place setting normally consists of a dinner plate, dessert plate, soup bowl, a glass, a tea cup with its saucer, a variety of cutlery, two serving spoons, a gravy ladle and a medium serving bowl. Basically, the higher the place setting, the more items you can fit in.

Some dishwashers heat the water internally, while others get hot water from your home’s hot water supply. The amount of water your dishwasher uses depends on the model, with a machine’s water consumption and annual water consumption both stated on the specifications.

Is it cheaper to use a dishwasher or wash by hand? 

If you only run the dishwasher once it’s fully loaded – once per day, for example, it will usually be cheaper than washing your dishes by hand.

Research has shown that a single dishwasher cycle costs the same in energy and water as turning the hot water tap on for six to nine minutes, or filling up four to six washing-up bowls (depending on whether the household has a metered or unmetered water supply).

Sarah Broomfield (opens in new tab), energy expert at Uswitch.com, says: “It might seem surprising, but modern dishwashers are more efficient than hand-washing for both water and energy use if washing a full load.

“One wash in a dishwasher that uses 0.79kWh per cycle would cost around 27p, and will generally do all the dishes used by the average household in a day. 

“Filling a nine-litre sink with hot water could cost around 16p, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to wash a whole day’s worth of dirty dishes in the same water, making the dishwasher a better option overall.” 

How to cut the cost of running your dishwasher 

1. Wait until you have a full load

It might sound obvious, but the less you use your dishwasher, the less it will cost to run per month or year.  And an easy way to use your dishwasher less, is to only put it on when it is full. 

Les Roberts from Bionic (opens in new tab) says:  “If your dishwasher runs on 1.5KwH for a one-hour cycle and your energy costs 34p per kW (the average under the price guarantee) your dishwasher will cost 51p to run for an hour. This doesn't sound like a lot but if you are running multiple half-loads a day, it will rack up. Make sure to only run your appliance on a full load to make dishwashing as cost efficient as you can.” 

2. Don’t overload your dishwasher

Overloading your dishwasher can mean some dishes come out dirty and you’ll have to wash them again – meaning overloading your machine can be a false economy. Putting too many items in your dishwasher could also damage it, making it less efficient in the long run too. 

Check out the video below for top dishwasher loading tips from Whirlpool.

3. Don’t rinse dishes first

 You should scrape leftover food off before you put plates in the dishwasher but there’s no need for a pre-rinse under the tap – it’s a waste of water and energy. 

If you load your dishwasher correctly, then there should be no need to pre-rinse any dishes and they will come out sparkling clean. 

4. Use the eco-cycle

Eco-cycles operate at lower temperatures but have longer wash cycles. With this type of programme, the water doesn’t need heating up as much when compared to shorter programmes. Plus, your dishes are soaped longer, which means your dishwasher doesn’t need as much energy to clean them as other programmes. 

What features should I look for when buying a dishwasher? 

  • Energy rating Every dishwasher will have an energy rating from A to G (A is best). The higher your dishwasher’s energy efficiency rating, the less energy and water it will use to run. Greg Marsh (opens in new tab), CEO and co-founder of cost-of-living forecast site Nous.co says: “The energy ratings of dishwashers can vary dramatically. More efficient dishwashers can bring energy usage down as low as 0.54 kW/h, costing the average person 18.3p per cycle and £1.29 a week.” 
  • Annual energy consumption This figure is based on 280 washes per year. How accurate it will be depends on how you use my machine – but annual energy consumption can be a good way to compare different dishwashers. 
  • Annual water consumption This is how much water your dishwasher will use each year, based on average use. If you have a water meter, this will affect your water bill. Greg Marsh from Nous.co: adds: “Other costs to watch out for are water bills. Water may seem a more minor cost, but some dishwasher brands can consume nearly double the water.”
  • Smart connectivity Some high-end dishwashers are wi-fi enabled. This means you can start and stop your dishwasher, and see when a cycle has finished, via a smartphone app.