Dishwasher drawer open with cutlery and plates

The real cost of using your dishwasher

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In this Canstar Blue cost analysis, we look at how much it costs to run your home dishwasher. We look at the electricity and water costs by state, energy efficiency rating and load size.

Dishwashers have become a common feature in Australian kitchens, but are they the culprit for higher than expected electricity bills? Dishwashers save you time, that’s for certain, but whether or not they save you money remains one of the most divisive appliance debates. Canstar Blue has crunched the numbers to work out the real cost of using your dishwasher.

How much does a dishwasher load cost?

Most household dishwashers will cost you between 15c and 32c in electricity and water charges for each load of dishes. The cost of electricity makes up the largest portion of dishwasher expense, costing between 12.3c and 28c on average, per load. The amount of electricity it uses will depend on the size of the dishwasher (measured in place settings), as well as its energy efficiency star rating.

Average electricity usage cost of a dishwasher

Dishwasher Size 1 to 3 Star Energy Rating 3.5 to 4.5 Star Energy Rating
6 to 9 Place Settings 16.9c 12.3c
10 to 12 Place Settings 24.0c 17.4c
13  to 16 Place Settings 28.0c 22.4c

Source: www.canstar.com.au – 15/08/2023. Average energy consumption figures based on dishwashers listed in the Commonwealth of Australia’s E3 Program’s Registration database, which assumes 7 uses per week at the “normal” setting. Electricity usage cost estimates based on the average electricity usage rate of 33.2c/kWh. Average electricity usage rates are based on single rate, non-solar only plans on Canstar’s database, available for an annual usage of 4,347kWh.  

What’s the cost of water in a dishwasher?

water rating

On average, households can expect to pay between 3c and 4c per load when it comes to water usage costs, according to Canstar Blue’s calculations.

The amount you actually pay for water usage however, will depend on the size and efficiency of your dishwasher as well as the rates in your area. To find out how much water your appliance may be using per load, it may help to check the water efficiency star rating label. In the example pictured right, it shows a 3.5 star rating for a dishwasher that uses 13.1 litres of water per load – relatively standard for a dishwasher.

Below, we’ve calculated the average water usage costs of a dishwasher by setting size. These costs have been determined based on an average water usage rate of $3.42/kL.

Average water usage cost of a dishwasher

Dishwasher Size Cents per Load
6 to 9 Place Settings 2.8c
10 to 12 Place Settings 3.6c
13 to 16 Place Settings 4.0c

Source: www.canstar.com.au – 15/08/2023. Average energy consumption figures based on dishwashers listed in the Commonwealth of Australia’s E3 Program’s Registration database, which assumes 7 uses per week at the “normal” setting. Water usage cost estimates based on the average water usage rate of $3.42 per kL. Average water usage rate based on ABS Water Account Statistics (2020-21).


Curious about the cost of your other white-goods in the kitchen? Discover your potential fridge running costs, microwave usage costs and oven heating costs with Canstar Blue now.


Which state or territory has the cheapest dishwasher running costs?

In addition to calculating the average cost per load for electricity and water usage, Canstar Blue has calculated the average cost per load for households in each capital city across Australia. These costs have been based on a dishwasher load with 12-14 place settings.

Average dishwasher running costs (water and electricity) per load, by capital city

Capital City Electricity Costs Water Costs Total Cost Per Load
Sydney 26.1c 3.1c 29.2c
Melbourne 19.8c 4.0c 23.8c
Brisbane 22.9c 1.0c 23.9c
Adelaide 33.4c 3.5c 36.9c
Perth 22.7c 3.0c 25.7c
Hobart 21.8c 1.4c 23.2c
Darwin 20.7c 2.5c 23.2c
Canberra 19.4c 2.8c 22.2c

Source: www.canstar.com.au – 15/08/2023. Average energy consumption figure of 738W and water consumption figure of 11.6L per load based on dishwashers listed in the Commonwealth of Australia’s E3 Program’s Registration database, which assumes 7 uses per week at the “normal” setting. Average electricity usage rates are based on single rate, non-solar only plans on Canstar’s database, available for an annual usage of 4,347kWh in each capital city. Water usage cost estimates based rates obtained from service provider websites, and a daily water usage of 500L where tiering applies. 

From the data, we can see that its households in Adelaide that are likely to cop the highest costs when it comes to using their dishwasher, while households in Canberra tend to see the most savings on their dishwasher utility costs. Hobart and Darwin households also appear to fair well, cost-wise, when it comes to using their dishwashers.

Remember, these costs should be treated as a general guide. The actual cost of using your home dishwasher will likely fluctuate depending on the model in use, energy efficiency rating, water and electricity rates in your area and the settings used for your appliances.

Paying too much for power? Compare cheap electricity plans below

Running your home dishwasher may not cost as much as you thought per load, but if you’re still on a dud energy plan, you could be paying much more than you need to. Below are some of the cheapest plans in New South Wales, Victoria, south-east Queensland and South Australia according to our database. Are you missing out on additional savings?

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3911kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4613kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4011kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

What’s best: Dishwashers or hand washing?

The question is difficult to put to rest because there are so many factors that come to play: dishwasher efficiency and size, how often you do dishes, water heater type, preferred dishwashing temperature, and the list goes on…

Many Aussies are adamant that washing dishes by hand is cheaper, after all – muscle power is free. However, washing dishes by hand may use considerably more water than most dishwashers, especially now with so many models introducing eco and energy/water efficient settings. While the water itself is not too expensive, the cost of heating the water certainly adds up, especially if you constantly run water or refill your sink several times when doing the dishes.

Sustainability Victoria claims that for every extra star on an energy efficient dishwasher, households could save an additional 30% on their running costs. If your dishwasher is old, inefficient or unnecessarily large, then it may well work out that washing dishes by hand is the cheaper option (albeit more burdensome). Generally speaking, however, an energy efficient dishwasher will be cheaper than washing dishes yourself.

If you are in the market for a new dishwasher for your home, then be sure to check out our annual dishwashers rating report. This report highlights the best-rated dishwasher brands in the biz, as rated by everyday Aussies. Check our this year’s winner by clicking the link below.

Best-Rated Dishwashers

Original Author: Jared Mullane

Kelseigh Wrigley
Energy Specialist
Kelseigh Wrigley was a content producer at Canstar Blue for three years until 2024, most recently as an Energy Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

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