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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its dishwasher Energy Star standards in January 2012. These revised standards mean that there's never been a better time to buy an electricity and water efficient model. And if you're still washing dishes by hand, give yourself a break. Dishwashers not only save you time compared to manual washing, but they also save you money (in water and energy bills) while getting dishes cleaner.
Do I Need a New Dishwasher?
One way to tell whether you need to replace your current dishwasher is age: Appliance Magazine puts the average lifespan of a dishwasher at 10 years.
Other signs that replacement time is nigh are increased operating noise, dishes that don't get as clean as they once did, a rusted bottom, a cracked body, diminished heating , and drainage problems. Mechanical issues, however, don't necessarily indicate the need for replacement. A general rule of thumb with appliances is that if that the cost of the repair is 50% or more of the cost of a new appliance, it's worth buying a new one.
Dishwasher shoppers will find no lack of models and options to choose from. In order to sort through them and avoid purchasing more machine than you need, try to focus on the features that are most important to you.
- Energy efficiency: According to Energy Star, efficient dishwashers use about 10% less energy and 20% less water than standard models. Compare individual models by checking the yellow EnergyGuide label, which provides data on annual consumption and operating costs. For added energy savings, choose a model that lets you run a ½ load or energy-saving wash cycle.
- Size: Most dishwashers are designed to fit into a standard 24-inch under-counter space. Where space is at a premium, 18-inch built-in models, countertop models, and portable models are also available.
- Capacity: Standard-sized dishwashers usually hold about a dozen place settings, although interior configuration (see "convenience" below) should also be considered. Large families—or those who want to wait longer between washes—can benefit from a higher-capacity dishwasher. Smaller households, on the other hand, might want a dishwasher than can run ½ loads.
- Filter type: Dishwasher filters prevent washed-away food from ending back up on clean dishes. Manual filters must be removed and cleaned occasionally, while self-cleaning filters require no upkeep (auto filters are louder, though).
- Convenience: Features such as adjustable racks, ample room for flatware, and fold-down tines make it easy to all your dishes into the machine, regardless of their size or shape. They're usually standard on higher-end dishwashers but can be found on cheaper models as well.
- Other Features: More expensive models typically have stainless steel tubs (which stain less than plastic tubs), hidden touchpad controls, interactive controls, quieter operation, a soil sensor (for improved efficiency), better information displays, hidden touchpad controls, and more refined styling. It's important to note, however, that more expensive machines generally don't do a better job of cleaning dishes.
Average Dishwasher Costs
- You can pay as little as $250 to $500 for a new dishwasher and as much as $1,000 to $2,000 or even $3,000+.
- Delivery and installation is often, but not always, included with the purchase of a dishwasher. If not included, expect to pay $100 to $200 for professional dishwasher installation. Delivery might add another $50 to $100. The cost to install a dishwasher in a kitchen that previously didn't have one will be significantly higher and could include cabinet modification in addition to plumbing and electrical work.
- Major dishwasher manufacturers include Frigidaire, GE, KitchenAid, Kenmore, Maytag, Whirlpool, Miele, and Bosch.