Save Energy — Dishwasher

Today’s modern conveniences are very useful but they increase the use of energy. One exception is the dishwasher. You don’t have to spend much time washing dishes by hand to realize a machine would make it much easier. The dishwasher has become an important appliance in the kitchen. The dishwasher saves time, wear on your hands, and uses less hot water. Tests have shown 16 gallons of water is used to hand wash dishes. The Energy Star dishwasher can do the same with as little as 4 gallons.

Your Home Energy Living Plan

  • Do NOT pre-rinse dishes, only knock off large food particles.
  • Fill but not overfill dishwasher.
  • Do NOT use heat drying feature.
  • Look for Energy Star qualified dishwasher when buying new. If your dishwasher was built before 1990 consider replacing it.
Impact of Your Energy Saving Actions

The number of times you use the dishwasher is important. Using your dishwasher 4 times a week is 208 times a year. A dishwasher designed for the minimum federal standard would use 452 kwh. At 9 cents a kwh, this is about $40 a year. Using an Energy Star dishwasher would reduce the cost to $28.80 per year.

How Energy is Lost

Hot water along with detergent is needed to clean dishes. This water is initially heated in your water heater. Then it is heated again in the dishwasher. About 80% of the energy is used to heat the water, both at the water heater and dishwasher. The remaining 20% is used by pumps to spray water over dishes and to drain the dishwasher. The dishwasher may have a drying feature which uses the heater to heat air to dry dishes.

Energy Solutions Explained

Modern dishwashers are capable of removing food from soiled dishes. Pre-rinsing the dishes by hand is only a waste of time and hot water. If the dishes sit overnight, using the pre-rinse feature of the dishwasher still uses less water. The energy used by the dishwasher is the same regardless of the amount of dishes (Some modern high-end units can sense a smaller or cleaner load). So do not run the dishwasher until you have a full load. However, do not overfill; to many dishes can block the water flow through the dishwasher. The heat drying of dishes involves pulling in dry air from outside the unit and heating that air. The hot dry air pulls the moisture off of the dishes. Use air drying feature not heat drying.

The government has required improved energy efficiency for dishwashers. Replacing you pre-1990 dishwasher will result in improved efficiency. Better yet buy an Energy Star qualified dishwasher. Energy Star requirements are about 40% better than the federal standards.

An Energy Star dishwasher will run longer. This is because Energy Star dishwashers are designed to conserve water.

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