We all understand the goal of getting an energy efficient dishwasher that has the Energy Star label on the Energy Efficient Dishwashers. New models used improved techniques to clean using less hot water. Many do not realize that companies do not publish water use. The Oregon Department of Energy maintains a list of dishwashers that meet its maximum water use threshold of 6.5 gallons per cycle. Some Energy Star ones do not meet this goal. Rebates are available from many utility companies.
What to look for in a new Dish washer
I looked for these features:
- Easy to fill trays for dishes and cutlery
- Miele dishwashers have a cutlery tray that works well
- Soil sensors help detect how dirty dishes are
- Water filters reduce water and detergent use
- Quiet motors on the newest models, can be barely heard
Consumer Reports is a good place to start for a list of high quality units.
Old Dishwashers are Inefficient
Dishwasher made before 1994 cost an extra $40 a year on your utility bills and waste about 8 gallons of water per cycle compared to owning a new ENERGY STAR qualified model. Save on average 1300 gallons of water over the life of a new dishwasher. Water costs are skyrockings in my area. Water rationing due to the drought is happening now.
California Urban Water Conservation Council has a page with details. They provide a great site with many resources on how to save water. (And money!)
Canada’s Energy Star site has dishwasher listings with water consumptions. Many of the models are also sold in the USA, so be sure to check this list.
H2ouse.org is another good site to check for water saving tips.
Tips to save Money
Remember that the best dishwashers are much more water efficient than hand washing. Hand washing can easily use 15 gallons a load.
Always do full loads and use the energy saver or air dry cycle to save energy. You could also leave the door open to do a natural air dry. Avoid pre-rinsing dishes to save upto $75 a year in water.
If lipstick is still slightly present on glasses after washing, then bacteria and viruses could be present on dishes and cutlery as well. Next time pre-rinse your glasses or silverware thoroughly. Consider switching to a different dishwasher detergent or having your machine checked out.
Eco Friendly Dishwashing Detergent
Avoid using dishwashing detergent with phosphates as they can promote algae and aquatic weed growth. Too much algae depletes oxygen needed for healthy fish and aquatic life. Many states now band phosphates in dishwashing detergent.
Sewage treatment plants and private septic systems can remove much but not all of the phosphorous from wastewater, so some of it ends up in lakes, streams and rivers.
Storm related Sewage Spills
A recent article pointed out millions of gallons of sewage or partially treated sewage spilled out into San Francisco Bay during the big storms of January 17 to 23, 2010. They had a picture of people fishing near one of the worst spill areas. You would expect terrible fish out of a polluted stream in China but in the middle of California. Pretty depressing. Clearly the various municipal water districts need to do a lot of work and we need to keep pressing them.
Some tips to do your share during storms:
- Minimize water use. Wait before doing dishes, washing clothes, flushing toilet
- Do not dump fats, oils, toxic chemicals, car wash soap down the drain
- Make sure your sewer line does not have cracks or roots intruding (Using toxic root killer is not very green)
- Make sure your sewer cap is secure and tight. If you have a back up problem, you can purchase from Home Depot a special cap with a ball that allows sewage backup to spew out.