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Dishwashers Beat Hand Washing

Dishwashers Beat Hand Washing

September 26, 2007 —

When you're shopping for a new dishwasher--and checking out all the styles and features-- it's easy to overlook the labels providing information about energy use.  But paying attention to the EnergyGuide and Energy Star labels on your next dishwasher can save you money.  The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that the labeling programs have saved consumers approximately $200 billion in energy costs since they went into effect. And dishwashers get more efficient every year. Industry studies have shown that replacing dishwashers manufactured prior to 1994 with a newer model may save consumers up to $25 per year in energy costs.

Can you save money and the enviroment if you wash by hand?  Actually, no.  According to Environmental Magazine, dishwashers can be more environmentally friendly than hand-washing, when you follow a couple of rules:

  • Run the dishwasher only when it is full.
  • Do not rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
  • If possible, avoid using the dry cycle; dishwashers normally use water hot enough to evaporate quickly when the door is opened after the wash and rinse cycles.

National Geographic offers additional tips about pre-rinsing. If dishes are pre-rinsed using a dishwasher pre-rinse cycle, approximately one gallon of water is used. Pre-rinsing in the sink under running water, however, uses up to 25 gallons of water (over a five-minute period).

A study done at the University of Bonn in Germany which found that dishwashers used half the energy, one-sixth of the water, and less soap than hand-washing an identical set of dirty dishes.

So if hand-washing potentially uses more water and energy—even for those careful of the amount of water being used—then dishwashers are the way to go.  Just keep in mind that not all dishwashers are created equal.  Start by taking a close look at the EnergyStar labels to compare various models for information about water and energy use.

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