Most of the energy required to run a dishwasher is used to heat the water, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. (See Reference 2, Page 28) The amount of water used in a dishwasher cycle varies by model, but models built before 1994 waste over 10 gallons per cycle, according to Energy Star, a joint program of the DOE and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (See Reference 1) Take steps to increase the efficiency of your dishwasher to reduce energy and water usage.
Loading the Dishwasher
Rinsing dishes off in the sink before running them through the dishwasher will waste water. Instead, scrape off any large bits of food into the trash or garbage disposal; the rinse cycle on your dishwasher will remove small food particles. Most dishwashers have different slots to hold different types of dishes. When loading your dishwasher, put each type of dish in its proper slot; use the small basket to hold silverware and serving spoons. Do not overload the dishwasher or block the water arms; the dishwasher cannot work efficiently if overloaded. (See Reference 2, Page 28)
Do not use the “rinse hold” setting on your dishwasher if the dishes are only lightly soiled; this setting uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water, and is only beneficial for heavily soiled dishes, according to the DOE. Use the "air dry" setting on the dishwasher instead of heat drying, to cut down on power use. If your dishwasher does not have an "air dry" setting, turn the dishwasher off after the last rinse cycle and open the door; leaving the door slightly ajar will allow air to circulate and dry the dishes. (See Reference 2, Page 28)
Running the Dishwasher
For maximum efficiency, only run the dishwasher when you have a full load of dishes; running smaller loads increases the number of times you use the dishwasher. The amount of dishes your dishwasher can comfortably hold depends on size and model. For example, a standard model can hold more than eight place settings, and a compact model can hold eight or fewer place settings, according to Energy Star. (See Reference 3)
Upgrading your older model dishwasher to an Energy Star-certified model is another way to make dishwashing more efficient in your home. Dishwashers built before 1994 cost $40 more in energy each year than an Energy Star-certified dishwasher. Over the course of its lifetime, an Energy Star-certified model will also save an average of 1,300 gallons of water. (See Reference 1)
Amelia Jenkins has more than eight years of professional writing experience, covering financial, environmental and travel topics. Her work has appeared on MSN and various other websites and her articles have topped the best-of list for sites like Bankrate and Kipplinger. Jenkins studied English at Tarrant County College.
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