Saving Water, Saving Energy, Saving Money: The New Breed Of Dishwashers Do It All
When casting an eye around your kitchen looking for the first place to get greener, the dishwasher may not be your first stop. However, your dishwasher is one of your household’s most significant consumers of hot water. More hot water means more demands on your water heater, which uses more energy (a lot more, if your water heater is older and/or inefficient)—and if your dishes don’t get completely clean you have to either hand wash them or stick them back in the dishwasher, both of which use even more hot water.
After a couple rounds of this you can see where an energy–saving dishwasher is not only a good idea — it’s one of the best ways to go green and see an instant impact on your bottom line.
If your dishwasher is more than 10 years old it’s probably time to go appliance shopping. When you shop, be sure to look for dishwashers carrying the Energy Star label. Energy Star appliances must be at least 41% more energy–efficient than their non-star counterparts.
Energy Star Labeled Dishwashers
Energy Star dishwashers use soil sensors to test how dirty the dishes are and choose the most efficient cycle; more efficient jets, to better disperse detergent and get the water where it’s needed; and dish rack designs that place the dishes in the optimal washing position. Energy Star models also use internal water heaters that boost the water temperature inside the dishwasher, allowing you to turn down the thermostat on your household water heater to 120 degrees. That can reduce your water heating costs by up to 10%!
New Energy Star dishwashers are quieter, too—up to 50% more quiet than older models.
Switching your pre–1994 dishwasher for one of these can save you $25–$50 a year in energy costs alone. That can equate to more than 55,000 gallons of water and $725 in energy and water bills over the life of the dishwasher.
There are also time savings. New dishwashers don’t require you to prewash dishes — just scrape and load. (If you do need to give your dishes a quick rinse before loading them in the dishwasher, use cold water.) This saves even more water, and also saves about 10 days of time, over the course of a year.
Light ‘n’ Airy
When you shop, look for dishwashers with a “light wash” or “energy-saving” wash cycle to minimize water usage and maximize savings. Also, look for dishwashers with an air dry option, since the heated dry feature is one of the biggest energy–wasting facets of most dishwashers.
You can maximize the energy–saving punch of a new Energy Star dishwasher by only running full loads, and by positioning the dishes according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Finally, realize that almost any dishwasher is a more efficient way of cleaning dishes than hand washing.
Replacement = Savings
If your dishwasher is more than 10 years old, here’s what you can budget for in terms of replacement: Cost of a new dishwasher: $350–$900; Life Span of new dishwasher: 15 years. Annual Cost Savings: Up to $15 on Water and up to $50 on Energy (unit cost and water heater cost).