By Katie Holdefehr
July 23, 2019
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Hint: It could save you money.

When do you typically run your dishwasher? First thing in the morning before you head to work, or after dinner when all of the dirty plates pile up? You probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about it, but a simple decision like when to run your dishwasher can actually have a big effect on your energy bill over time. Here's why: most energy companies charge higher rates for energy used during peak hours. To lower your energy bill, you'll want to check your energy company's peak hours and wait to run your dishwasher (and washing machine, and dryer) at another time of day.

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Check Your Energy Company's Peak Hours

Peak hours and rates will vary depending upon your energy company and area, so check the company's website for more info. For my Brooklyn apartment with energy supplied by conEdison, a quick search revealed just how dramatically prices can vary: from June 1 to September 30, peak rates from 8 a.m. to midnight cost 23.07 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), while midnight to 8 a.m. costs just 1.63 cents/kWh. Yes, that means that energy used during peak hours costs 14 times more than off-peak.

Because more people are using energy-guzzling air conditioners during the summer in Brooklyn, conEdison also has something called "Summer-Peak Pricing" which runs from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, when rates are even higher. So even if I didn't want to wait until midnight to run my dishwasher, avoiding these prime afternoon hours could save a lot of money over the course of the summer.

RELATED: The Ultimate Cleaning Routines for Early Birds vs Night Owls

So, When Is the Best Time to Run Your Dishwasher?

While peak hours will vary slightly by area, as a general rule, the cheapest time to run your dishwasher is at night—when people begin to turn off the lights and TVs and the grid is less busy.

Note: For fire safety reasons, you should only run appliances like dishwashers and dryers while you're home and avoid running them overnight or when you're sleeping. So if you're not a night owl, running the machine early in the morning before you go to work could be a smart alternative.

Even if you don't want to rework your cleaning schedule, simply avoiding using large appliances during peak afternoon hours (especially during the summer months) can keep your utility bill in check.

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