How Does Your Dishwasher Measure Up?

How to Shop for a New Dishwasher

Don Ames ,  March 20, 2011

The dishwasher is one of the major appliances in a home. When a new dishwasher is needed it pays to know how to shop for a new one. There is a little more to it now that the Energy Star efficient program got involved. Things like "estimated yearly electrical use" and "cost range of similar models" needs to be considered. The Energy Star program is a federally operated program that tests appliances and rates them for energy efficiency. You can spot an appliance that meets the efficiency standards by looking for the blue, Energy Star, sticker.

The dishwasher at my house had been making increasingly irritating sounds over the previous 4 days. Then yesterday it stopped working altogether and filled the room with a burned wire smell. It had been a good dishwasher, I hated to see it roll over a play dead. At 5 years old, I hoped it would have had a longer life. Looks like I get to go shopping for a new dishwasher.

Here's a few things I learned about dishwashers at the first store:

All dishwashers are the same size. They're not like refrigerators that come in different sizes.
Stores often don't carry the more expensive models, you'll need to order them and wait a week or so.
The dish rack inside is either covered by plastic or vinyl. Vinyl is the most durable and comes in the more expensive models.
A fairly new feature is steam cleaning. Here again, only in the mid to upper price range.
The lady of the house didn't want to face another week washing the dishes by hand so we were restricted to the models that were in-stock. Each store we went to had about 12 models to choose from, but only had 3 or 4 in stock. In a way it made the selection process a lot easier since we didn't have so many to consider.

Now let's take a look at the yellow EnergyGuide that is attached to each model. The yellow tag is the property of the federal government and cannot be removed from the appliance before it is sold. This seems a little threatening. I feel like I'm purchasing a nuclear warhead or something. The EnergyGuide has three main areas of information:

Estimated Yearly Operating Cost when used with an electric water heater. This is a sliding scale so you can compare this dishwasher with others. This unit uses about 300 kWh per year. How much is 300 kWh? A 1,500 sq ft home with an electric furnace and water header will use about 21,600 kWh per year or about 60 kWh per day. This dishwasher uses $32 per year compared to others ranging from $20 to $50.
Estimated Yearly Electrical Use. This dishwasher uses $32 per year compared to others ranging from $20 to $50. The dishwasher uses about 1 kWh per day.
Estimated Yearly Operating Cost when used with a natural gas water heater. Just a dollar figure here, $25. This compares with the electric water heater at $32 per year.
The qualifying note at the bottom of the EnergyGuide states that estimated operating costs were based on four loads a week at a cost of 10.65 cents per kWh and a cost of $1.218 per therm.

I like shopping for cars better, now that's fun. Shopping for a new dishwasher was alright, but not something I will look forward to doing again anytime soon. I was surprised to learn how little electricity is used by a dishwasher ( $32 per year ) and how little difference in efficiency there was between the less expensive models and the more expensive models. On sale and in stock, my new dishwasher costs $299, and I'll bet it washes dishes just fine.

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Tags: appliance, appliances, cost, dishwasher, efficient


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Comment by David Eggleton on April 8, 2011 at 5:30am
Henceforth, all check here for the latest word concerning the most efficient in certain categories of products, including dishwashers.

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