Energy Efficient Appliances: Dishwashers
Save Money With Energy Efficient Appliances
Home energy efficiency is not only good for the environment, but it helps save money on monthly utility bills. You've probably heard about tips to help homeowners in this regard, including replacing incandescent light bulbs and using a programmable thermostat.
What if you could save even more on your water, electricity and/or natural gas bill?
If you carefully consider whether and when to run home appliances like your dishwasher, you can reduce consumption of water and cut down on the energy required to heat it for domestic use. Energy efficient dishwashers will end up paying for themselves in a relatively short amount of time.
You might be surprised to learn that washing dishes by hand does not save energy or water. With Energy-Star rated appliances, you may be able to enjoy the luxury of running the dishwasher without associated guilt of the energy and expense.
What can YOU do to save money on utility bills when it comes to home appliances?
Does Hand Washing Dishes Save Energy and Water?
I have managed a "green" blog since 2008, and have learned a lot about saving energy, reducing our carbon footprint and - importantly - spending less in our daily lives. We frequently publish articles on conservation, and home energy efficiency is a favorite topic.
Did you know that the cost of heating water for domestic use is one of the biggest energy drains in a household budget?
Your dishwasher and washing machine are two of the biggest hogs when it comes to residential hot water demands, and they also require a great deal of electricity to run.
If you hand wash your dishes, the only energy that is required is for heating the water you use in the sink. When you turn off the water during the task, rather than allowing it to run, you may be able to use less water for hand washing than running the dishwasher.
But, with today's energy efficient appliances, it is a close call as to whether hand washing dishes is a better choice than using a dishwasher. Factors include the wash cycle selected, and also depends in part on the type of water heating system you use: electric water heater, gas hot water heater, tank-less (on demand) water, or solar hot water.
Comparison of Energy and Water Requirements
Energy Efficient Dishwasher
Less than 1.6 kWh (kilowatt hour)
4 gallons per cycle
Approximately 2 kWh
6 gallons per cycle
Hand Washing Dishes
Less than .3 kWh to heat 2 gallons of water*
Water flows from faucet at 2 gallons per minute
How Can You Run the Dishwasher in an Energy Efficient Manner?
If you live in a house or apartment that has a dishwasher, it can be very tempting just to clean up the kitchen by putting all dirty dishes, pots and pans and utensils into the appliance. You can, in fact, run the dishwasher in an energy efficient manner to help you save both energy and water.
(1) completely scrape plates off before loading to minimize the "work" to get them clean;
(2) only run the dishwasher when it is completely full;
(3) hand wash large objects that take up a lot of room in the dishwasher (pots and pans);
(4) use the shortest wash cycle possible; and
(5) turn off the automatic dryer and open the dishwasher when it is done running to allow dishes to air dry.
Avoid using the "pre-scrub" options on the dishwasher; if your dishes are that dirty, they probably will only get clean by hand washing. The same is true for the "anti-bacterial" and "added heat" settings. If you go with the "rinse hold" setting, an additional 3-7 gallons of hot water are required.
How to Save Water Washing Dishes
What do you Need to Hand Wash Dishes?
- Sink or other large container
- 2 gallons of hot water for soap
- 2 gallons of cold water for rinse
- Dish washing soap (not dishwasher soap!)
- Rubber Gloves (optional)
- Sponge or scrub brush
- Dish towel for drying and/or dish drying rack
- Approximately 5-15 minutes of time, depending on the number of dishes and amount of cleaning that is required to complete the job!
Hand Washing Dishes Can Be More Efficient
Running an energy efficient dishwasher in a smart manner, as discussed above, can save water and reduce utility bills. However, you can match or even exceed energy savings by hand washing, if you do so carefully.
If you have a 2-sided sink, or a separate container to use in addition to your sink, fill each with 2 gallons of water. Hot water and soap in one, and cold water for rinsing in the other.
Thoroughly scrape food of the plates and avoid pre-rinsing, if possible. To save the most water, turn off the faucet while hand washing dishes. Remember that for every minute the water runs, 2 gallons of water are consumed. It will only take 2 minutes to equal the amount of water used in an entire regular wash cycle in an energy efficient dishwasher!
With rubber gloves, your hands will be able to tolerate working in hot water, which will help get your dishes cleaner and cut grease more effectively. Select eco-friendly dish washing soap and only use the amount recommended to further reduce your environmental impact.
Pick the Right Kind of Dish Washing Soap
The Bottom Line: Dishwashers vs. Hand Washing
I was surprised to learn that most experts agree that running an energy efficient dishwasher is the best way to save energy, water and money. Just be sure to run the dishwasher when full, cut down on use of special wash cycles and avoid heated drying, if possible.
For those that are not 100% convinced, or simply do not own a dishwasher, minimize your use of water when hand washing dishes by avoiding running the water while working.
Do you Hand Wash dishes or use a Dishwasher?See results without voting
More on Energy and Water Requirements of Dishwashers
- Built In Dishwashers vs. Hand Washing: Which is Greener? : TreeHugger
- Does Using a Dishwasher Actually Decrease Water Use? | One Green Generation
- BC Hydro - Wash Your Dishes Efficiently
- Handwashing vs. Dishwasher : ENERGY STAR
- Eco-quandary: Wash dishes by hand or with dishwasher? « Cheap Like Me
- Clean Your Plate: Energy-Saving Dishwashing Tips | Care2 Healthy Living
© 2012 Stephanie Hicks
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