Your kitchen is a hub of activity and potential for energy savings.  So much goes on here—cooking, food storage, meal planning, bill paying, homework, charging stations, and the dreaded meal clean-up.  But, in this flurry of activity, you might not stop to think about how efficiently you use energy in the kitchen…especially at clean up.  By that time, you are probably just thinking about getting the cleaning done, not how you are doing it. Before you roll up your sleeves to tackle the next post-meal, consider these dishwasher tips to help you clean up on kitchen energy savings.

Washing by hand doesn’t mean energy savings

Washing dishes may seem like a good chore to pass along to your child to build responsibility and contribute to the smooth workings of the family.  However, you’ll want to reconsider. You may be surprised to hear that hand washing dishes does NOT save money. According to the National Resource Defense Council, handwashing can “use up to 27 gallons of water per load….versus as little as 3 gallons with an ENERGY STAR-rated dishwasher.”  Given that the water heater is a significant energy hog (not to mention the huge difference in water use), using a dishwasher makes the most sense for energy and water savings.  

Plus, if you are the one standing at the sink, think of the time you’ll save.  The Department of Energy estimates that you’ll save 230 hours of personal time over the course of a year by NOT hand washing.  You can put down your sponge with confidence. And, if your child’s been washing, instead have them help you clear the table, scrape plates, and load the dishwasher with your guidance.  Don’t have a dishwasher? Use a wash basin or drain plug to minimize water use.

Save by using a dishwasher efficiently

Hopefully, you already have an ENERGY STAR dishwasher.  But if you don’t, don’t despair. There are still opportunities to save.  The Department of Energy offers these helpful tips:

  • Scrape dishes don’t rinse before loading.  Only soak or pre-wash if food is burned- or dried-on.
  • Only run dishwasher when full, but not overloaded.
  • Don’t use the “rinse hold” feature, because it uses 3-7 gallons of hot water.
  • Allow dishes to air dry.  Turn off automatic air-dry switch.  If you don’t have a switch, turn off the dishwasher after the final rinse and prop the door open so dishes dry faster.

Run dishwasher outside of peak energy hours

You’ll save even more energy by running your dishwasher outside of peak energy use hours.  While these hours depend on the region, weather (extreme heat or cold), and your energy service provider (contact them for details), a good bet is before 9 am or after 9 pm.

Tips For the Future–Before You Buy A New Dishwasher

Comparisons are key

First, compare the yellow EnergyGuide labels on various dishwashers to compare the energy usage for each model.  By choosing an Energy Star rated dishwasher, not only will you save energy and water, you’ll also get very clean dishes, because they have an internal heating element that raises your water temperature to 140 degrees for superior disinfection.  This heating feature also allows you to lower your water heater temperature to 120 degrees for added savings.

Make sure the dishwasher fits

Second, be sure to pick the model that fits your household.  If you don’t cook much or are single, you might be well-served by a compact-capacity model that will use less energy.  A compact-capacity model holds 8 place settings and 6 serving pieces. However, if you select a compact model and run it more often, you may end up spending more on energy than you would with a standard-capacity model.

Multiple wash cycles matter

Last, select a model that offers multiple wash cycle options, such as light or energy savings wash.  These cycles will be shorter, using less energy and water. Another great energy saving feature is air dry/heated dry off.  By selecting this feature, your dishwasher will stop after the wash cycle and allow dishes to air dry, rather than using extra energy heating them to dry.

While meal clean-up may not be fun or glamorous, take heart in knowing that at least you can save on your energy budget by using your dishwasher wisely.  Visit Plymouth Rock Energy  for more information about ways to save on your energy bills.