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Four Tips for Buying an Energy-Efficient Dishwasher

Energy-efficient home appliances are great ways for saving energy and reducing your monthly electric bill costs, and few home appliances have gotten more efficient over the years than dishwashers.

Although the ENERGY STAR website has a list of the most efficient dishwashers on the market, you can do an even better job of saving energy by following these four simple criteria when shopping for an energy-efficient dishwasher.

Find a dishwasher with a high Energy Factor (EF) rating

Perhaps the most important thing you should look for in an energy-efficient dishwasher is its Energy Factor (EF) rating. A dishwasher’s EF rating measures the number of cycles that can be run by using 1 kWh of electricity.

The ENERGY STAR models start with an EF of about 0.66 and go as high as 1.43. The higher the EF the better, so try to find a model with an EF of 1.00 or above. A model with an EF of 1.00 uses between about 200 and 230 kWh a year.

You can go online and visit the ENERGY STAR website for more information, or you can check out online retail stores or manufacturer websites to find out what a particular dishwasher’s EF rating is. If you shop for a dishwasher at a brick-and-mortar store, a model’s EF rating will be listed on it’s yellow EnergyGuide label.

Make sure the dishwasher has wash cycle options

Your old dishwasher may have one or two options when it comes to choosing how strenuous the machine should wash your dishes, but new energy-efficient dishwashers can have several wash cycle options, including cycles for light washing and china, heavy-duty, rinse-only, high temperature, and so on. Some models even have soil sensor technology that allows the dishwasher to adjust water use depending on how dirty your dishes are.

Generally speaking, the more options you have the better, because they allow you to customize the amount of energy and water you use with each load, and can potentially save you a significant amount of money on your electric and water bills each year.

Look for a dishwasher that’s water-efficient

Dishwashers that have the ENERGY STAR certification are a great place to start when it comes to saving water, but some models use half as much water as others, which could mean a difference of several hundred gallons of water a year in some cases.

You’ll have to go beyond the ENERGY STAR certification and the yellow EnergyGuide label for the inside scoop on how much water a dishwasher actually uses. Go online and check out manufacturer websites for more information on how much water a particular dishwasher model uses, and check with your electric and water utility to see if you qualify for any rebates on exceptionally water-efficient models and what the requirements for those rebates are.

Only consider dishwashers with no-heat drying cycles

Most dishwashers use an electric heating element to bake dishes dry after the final rinse cycle is completed. This drying process uses about 7 percent of a dishwasher’s total energy use. Being able to avoid this step, then, could really help contribute to your goal of saving energy.

A dishwasher with a no-heat drying feature allows you to turn off the heating element and, instead, uses fans to suck in room temperature air from outside the dishwasher and blow it across the dishes to dry them. And the best part is that you won’t scald your hands trying to empty a dishwasher that’s just finished drying your dishes.

Since most new dishwashers have a no-heat drying feature, your choice in models shouldn’t be limited. However, you should consider treating the absence of such a feature as a deal-breaker for any dishwasher model.


American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy website, Consumer Resources: Dishwashing.

ENERGY STAR website, Dishwashers for Consumers.

ENERGY STAR website, ENERGY STAR Qualified Dishwashers.

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