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Dishwasher vs washing up: Which one is better for saving energy?

For many years now, dishwashers have replaced sinks as the main form of washing up in many households. Whether it’s tackling the aftermath of a large evening meal or cleaning up after a party or celebration, dishwashers truly can be a lifesaver. After all, there’s no denying that dishwashers are more convenient than good old-fashioned manual scrubbing. But the real question is; which choice is more energy efficient?

Well, we’re about to dive in and find out the answer! So if you’re interested in keeping your energy usage in check, especially now that bills and the general costs of living are rising, read on to discover whether using a dishwasher or hand-washing in the sink is better for saving energy…

Close up hands of woman washing dishes in kitchen

A large part of the dishwasher vs washing up debate comes down to how you, personally, go about each method. Your habits play a big role in how much certain appliances cost to run, and dishwashers are no exception. For example, if you tend to run daily dishwasher cycles regardless of how many dishes you have that need cleaning, your energy usage and its costs are going to end up quite high. However, only using your dishwasher when it’s completely full should actually save energy compared to using your boiler to run hot water in the sink.

Cycles are also something to take into consideration when it comes to dishwasher use. If you’re continually using the shortest, most powerful and most convenient cycles your dishwasher has to offer, it may end up costing you quite a lot of money and energy. If you take some time to familiarise yourself with the settings, however, and favour the ‘eco’ cycle (which most dishwashers have nowadays) your energy expenditure will be significantly lower.

Open dishwasher with clean utensils

Let’s take a look at the facts and figures. Dishwashers usually use around 10 litres of water during a cycle, whereas the capacity for many washing-up bowls is around 8 litres. However, something to take into account is the fact that modern dishwashers heat up water inside the appliance, rather than using a boiler like the hot water that comes out of your tap. Because of this, washing dishes with hot water in your sink can actually cause your boiler to use significantly more energy than your dishwasher heating up water on eco-mode.

Furthermore, according to a study by Which?, dishwashers are actually four times more water efficient than hand washing on average, and one dishwasher cycle can usually clean the same amount of dishes as multiple washes in the sink. The Energy Saving Trust also reports that running a dishwasher can cost as little as £37 a year, or even a mere £23 a year for eco dishwashers. This is because eco dishwashers heat water more slowly but still ultimately provide the same results with less energy.

Dishwasher set on eco mode cycle

So really, when trying to determine whether a dishwasher is more energy-efficient than washing up in the sink, the answer is yes… as long as you use it right. Frequently (and unnecessarily) running the most powerful cycles will certainly cost you more in the long run… but taking a more sensible approach and only using eco cycles when your dishwasher is full can save you a lot of money on your energy bills in the long run when compared to hand washing in the sink.

If you want to learn more about using your dishwasher efficiently and making the most out of it, head over to our blog post on 10 common dishwasher mistakes to avoid that could damage your machine and cost you money. You’ll thank us for it soon enough!


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