Hand Washing vs Dishwasher: Which Is More Cost Effective?

November 5th, 2010 by

When it comes to the debate about saving money by either hand washing dishes or using a dishwasher, the answer isn’t as straightforward as you may think. There are a number of factors to consider, as well as ways in which you can save money by using either method.

How Much Does a Dishwasher Cost

There’s no way to pinpoint exactly how much running a dishwasher would cost you, unless you know how much wattage your dishwasher uses, the cost of electricity in your area and how often you’ll run the dishwasher. However, a dishwasher that heats water inside the unit may cost about $50 a year to run if you use the washer twice a week. If you live with other people, you may need to wash dishes every day, but even running a dishwasher seven days a week should cost you only about $200 annually. A dishwasher that takes water that’s pre-heated from your water heater may cost only $60 a year to use even if you use it every day, but you mustn’t forget to add the cost of using hot water, which you can calculate below.

How Much Does Washing by Hand Cost

Many people assume that hand washing dishes is the less expensive option, but running a dishwasher isn’t horribly expensive, as explained above. Plus, washing dishes by hand still requires the use of hot water as well as cold water, which involves both the cost of electricity to heat water and the cost of the water itself. Using a gallon of hot water and a gallon of cold water may cost somewhere only around $.50 to $1, but it may cost more if you use water liberally.

Not to mention that when you’re hand washing dishes, you’re likely going to have to wash at least once a day or even after each meal, since leaving dishes out accumulates odors and bacteria. Spending a $1 a day on washing dishes can add up to $365 a year—which costs more than running a dishwasher.

How to Cut Back on Costs

You can make using a dishwasher even less expensive by turning the dishwasher off when it gets to the drying cycle and drying the dishes by hand. Even opening the dishwasher and allowing the dishes to dry a little first simply with exposure to the air can help. The drying cycle makes up as much as half of the total cost of using a dishwasher.

However, you may not have the option of a dishwasher. You can save money when hand washing dishes by being careful with your water usage. Turn on the faucet to get the dish and your sponge wet and make sure you turn off the faucet as you scrub. Never let the faucet run more than necessary. You may not have to soak dishes so long as you wash frequently and keep food from becoming caked on the dish.

A dishwasher is much more convenient than hand washing dishes and that alone is enough to make many apartment dwellers spring for the cost. Not to mention that some apartments include a flat-rate for utility usage, which means that you won’t have to worry about how much either method costs, so you may as well lean toward convenience.

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