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Dishwashers: Buyer’s Guide

Buyer’s Guide

Your new dishwasher’s best feature is its water efficiency, which helps to reduce your water consumption and the cost to heat water. The EnergyGuide label and other guidelines below will help you find the right dishwasher for you.


Look for the Label: EnergyGuide

Most major appliances, electronics, and lighting must meet specific energy standards outlined by the U.S. Department of Energy. Energy use and efficiency are displayed on the yellow EnergyGuide label, which compares the estimated annual operating cost with similar models and states how much energy the appliance is expected to use annually. The EnergyGuide label will also display the ENERGY STAR® logo, if the particular model qualifies.

You’ll see an estimated yearly operating cost on a scale showing a range for similar models. The amount is based on the national average rate for electricity. Look for models with the lowest operating costs.

You’ll also find the estimated annual energy consumption for this model based on typical use. Multiply this by your local electricity rate to get a better estimate of your actual operating cost.  

Look for the Logo: ENERGY STAR®

ENERGY STAR® is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. The program sets minimum efficiency standards for appliances and building products and recognizes and labels the top performing models on the market. The standards are more rigorous than federal standards, and vary by product category. A list of qualified products, and more information on energy efficient central heating options can be found online at energystar.gov.


Dishwasher Standards:

  • Standard size washers use less than 324 kWh/year and 5.8 gallons/cycle
  • Compact size washers use less than 234 kWh/year and 4 gallons/cycle

Size Matters

Using a full-sized dishwasher less often—only when full—can be more efficient than running a compact machine too often. On the other hand, an energy-saving compact model might better meet your needs if you do not dirty a lot of dishes.


Models of Efficiency

The most efficient dishwashers use about 5 gallons of water per load in light or energy-saving modes, compared to 11 gallons or more for conventional dishwashers.


EF: The Energy Factor

A higher Energy Factor (EF) number indicates a more efficient machine. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy recommends an EF of at least 0.65 for dishwashers.


Cycles: Save Even More

Consider choosing a dishwasher with cycle options. Lightly soiled loads can run on the energy saver cycle, and “No-Heat” dry cycles can save even more by using room air—rather than heated air—to dry your dishes.

Use & Care

Proper maintenance and installation of your home’s dishwasher will maximize efficiency measures. Learn more about Dishwasher Use & Care,  where to start, and how to care for and use your dishwasher for the most savings.


If you’re thinking about making efficiency improvements, the Dishwashers Overview is a great place to get acquainted with the basics and your options, before you buy a new dishwasher for your home. Return to Kitchen Appliances.

This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

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