The current EU Energy Label for dishwashers ranges from A+++ (most efficient) to D (least efficient) as shown. The label shows a separate rating for the Drying Efficiency Class, ranging from A to G, and for water efficiency denoted in litres per annum.
Also displayed is the amount of energy the product uses annually based on 280 standard cycles per year, also factoring in any power consumption in ‘left-on’ mode.
For the most efficient models, look out for the darkest green label band. Our Topten ranking is based on the official Energy Efficiency Index which shows the differentiation within the top label class(es).
Comparing energy use of old and new, energy-efficient appliances
To replace or not to replace? Knowing exactly when to replace an appliance, especially one that is still working, can be difficult. Generally, older dishwashers will consume more energy than a new highly energy-efficient one as EU regulations setting limits to energy use have come into effect. On average, dishwashers sold in 1990 used 38% more energy than those available today.
Monitoring the energy usage of your current appliance
You may find it useful to monitor the actual energy consumption of your dishwasher. This can be done using a plug-in energy-usage meter. This is plugged into the socket and the appliance is plugged into the meter. Monitoring electricity usage for a month, or even a week, allows you to gain an idea of the annual consumption.
Bear in mind, you may use your dishwasher more frequently at certain times of the year such as the summer or Christmas holidays. So ensure you perform the test during a time that represents your typical usage.
The new EU Energy Label shows the average annual electricity use of dishwashers, so you can easily find out how your appliance fares compared to a new model before committing to a purchase.
What size dishwasher?
If you are planning to buy a new dishwasher, think about what best suits your needs. Look out for the number of place settings you require – they range from six to 15.
Full-sized dishwashers are generally the most energy- and water-efficient. For a single-person household or a small kitchen, a compact or slimline model may be more suitable.
In any case, look out for the Energy Label – the best performing models on the market will be rated A+++ and you can see the annual average energy consumption on the label.
How to get your appliance to perform most efficiently
Dishwashers on sale today are much more efficient to operate, but cycles have become longer. Some dishwashers have low water features or 'quick wash' options which are a great way to cut down on water consumption. A good way to save energy costs if your electricity usage is calculated on time-of-use rates is to use the 'delay start' function.
Load it up to the max. Before running your dishwasher wait until you have a full load to ensure you use the maximum capacity of your dishwasher. This will help make the most of the energy, water and detergent used. Avoid overloading the dishwasher or blocking the water arms though; the dishwasher cannot work efficiently if overloaded.
Use the Energy-save or Economy Programme whenever possible. This type of programme is designed to clean normally soiled tableware and is the most efficient programme in terms of combined energy and water consumption. Dishes are washed at a lower temperature, typically 50°C, and using around three litres less water than the standard dishwasher cycle. Some dishwashers also have a low water or quick wash cycle so look out for these if there isn’t an economy programme.
Avoid the half-load program. While this type of programme will use less water and energy than a normal cycle, the water saving doesn’t equate to half. It's better to wait until your dishwasher is completely full and then select an Economy or water-saving cycle to save water, energy and money on running costs.
Use the no-heat air-dry feature if your dishwasher has one. This feature circulates room air through the dishwasher with a fan and is estimated to save between 15 and 50% of the total energy use of each cycle compared to using the heat drying cycle. If you have an older dishwasher that doesn’t have this feature, you can turn the dishwasher off after the final rinse cycle is completed and open the door to allow air drying.
Avoid using the ‘rinse hold’ setting. This feature uses 10 to 25 litres more hot water for each use. Never use "rinse hold" for just a few dirty dishes. Instead, consider the old-fashioned hand wash/rinse basin option.
No need to pre-rinse. Modern dishwashers are designed to clean even heavily soiled dishes. Ensure you scrape off food and empty liquids — the dishwasher will do the rest. There is usually no need to rinse items under the tap first or use a pre-rinse programme.
What else you can do to save energy and money
Switch it off. Always remember to switch appliances off completely rather than keeping them on standby when you've finished using them.
Wash up by hand? If you currently wash dishes by hand, it’s pretty easy to figure out whether you would use less water with a dishwasher. Simply measure how much water it takes to fill the sink or washing up bowl for every time you wash your dishes and compare it to the water use of an efficient dishwasher. Never wash your dishes under running water – this wastes both water and energy used to heat it.
Keep those large appliances away from each other. Positioning your dishwasher away from your refrigerator will make sure that your fridge doesn’t have to work harder and use more electricity due to the heat and moisture coming off the washer.