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January 31, 2019 | Dishwashers

How to Run a Dishwasher for Energy Efficiency

There are a few major kitchen appliances that tend to require more energy than others, so it’s important to configure their settings for the best energy efficiency possible.

In this article, you will discover how to run a dishwasher for energy efficiency.

how to run a dishwasher

How to Run a Dishwasher More Efficiency

Whether you have purchased a new dishwasher, or you are living in a home that came with one, you may be wondering just how beneficial the appliance may be. You’ve likely heard the claims that washing with a dishwasher can save your time, money, and water. But, is it true?

While it may seem like running an appliance every day or so for at least a half hour – and using hot water – can eat up money and energy, believe it or not, it doesn’t. Time and time again, dishwashers have proven to be more sanitary and greener than hand-washing.

Of course, there is a specific way you should approach your dishwasher to ensure that you are reaping the benefits of the energy efficient appliance, rather than costing yourself more money over time.

To give you some guidance, here is how you should be using your dishwasher.

Only Use Your Dishwasher with a Full Load

The number of dishes you use throughout the day is going to vary greatly on the number of people in your home or the number of meals cooked. There is no rule that says your dishwasher needs to run at a certain time every day. If it is not full, then don’t start it.

It is perfectly normal to leave your dishes in the dishwasher for another day. After all, running the dishwasher when it is not full is a waste of energy and water. Some people may run the dishwasher daily and others may do so every day or two.

If you are wanting to get the most out of your dishwasher, wait until you have a full load before you turn it on.

Ignore the Urge to Pre-Rinse Your Dishes

Many people have the preconception that it is necessary to pre-wash your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. Sure, you don’t want to put a plate full of food into the dishwasher, but you don’t need to pre-wash the either.

Many dishwashing detergents are designed to attach to the food particles left on your dishes. This helps them work to clean stronger and better. If you pre-wash your dishes, there is no debris for the dish soap to latch on to. We shouldn’t even need to mention how running the water to pre-wash is just a waste of resources.

Scrape leftover food off your dishes and into the garbage can. Then, place them directly into the dishwasher.

Let the Air Dry Your Dishes, Rather Than the Dishwasher’s Heated Dry Option

Unless you have a very old dishwasher, most dishwashers come with a heated dry option. If chosen, it will go into a time of intense heat that will dry your dishes once the wash cycle is completed. It may be a very effective way to dry your dishes, but it is not necessarily the most energy efficient way to do so.

Have you ever considered the energy required to use the heated dry option? Is it necessary?

You have a machine washing your dishes for you, does it really need to dry them too? Air is free – and it dries dishes. If you want to get the most from your dishwasher in the most efficient manner, skip the heated dry option. Instead, select the air-dry option if your dishwasher has one or prop the door open and let them sit for a bit. Of course, if you are feeling ambitious, you can always dry them by hand.

Load Your Dishwasher Properly to Avoid Having to Run It Twice

The manner in which you load your dishwasher has a great impact on how efficient it will be. How often have you tried to fit in that last dish or cup knowing very well that the dishwasher is already at capacity?

Dishwashers work with a spray arm that sends water squirting all around the dishwasher. However, the more you overload the dishwasher, the harder it is for the water – and detergent – to reach all the dishes. At the end of the cycle, you will be bummed to see that some of your dishes don’t seem to be very clean.

And, then what happens?

You run it again.

Don’t waste time, water, or energy next time. All you have to do is load your dishwasher properly – and do not overload it.

Put smaller cups, glasses, mugs, bowls, and the like on the top shelf. The bottom shelf should be for plates, skillets, serving dishes, and such. Do not place any items around the spray arm that are large enough to block the water. In other words, place serving platters and baking sheets along the outer edge of the bottom rack.

Wash Your Dishes during Off-Peak Hours

Depending on where you reside, you may benefit from washing your dishes during off-peak hours. These tend to be daytime and evening hours. Instead, choosing to run your dishwasher during the night or early morning could save you a great amount in energy costs.

Many newer dishwashers have a delayed-start button that makes this easy. All you need to do is set it to run later – and leave it.

Pay Attention to How Your Dishwasher Affects Other Appliances

Did you know that you can save energy by looking at how your dishwasher affects other appliances? It’s true. For example, your refrigerator requires space behind it to run efficiently and allow the air to flow. However, if you place your dishwasher next to your refrigerator, you will find that – due to all the heat that radiates from your dishwasher – your refrigerator is going to have to work harder.

Something else to note is that the heat from your dishwasher can also affect the air in your home. If you run the dishwasher in the hotter part of the day, your air conditioner will have to work harder to cool your home.


The dishwasher was designed to wash your dishes, so you don’t have to. It saves time while it also saves water and energy. It is up to you, however, to make sure you are using your dishwasher at its full potential. Only then can you reap the most benefits.