Green Your Dishwasher

August 31, 2012 Two comments View all articles in General

If you have an older dishwasher model built before 1994, you could be using more than 15 gallons of water per cycle. And when 80 percent of the machine's energy goes to heating the water, that old machine could be costing you an extra $40 in utility costs. An Energy Star dishwasher will save energy by using less hot water to clean, and will feature built-in water temperature boosters as well as improved technology, energy efficient motors, and sensors that determine the length of the washing cycle. Purchasing an Energy Star rated dishwasher makes sense for the water- and energy-saving consumer, but there are also eco-friendly actions you can take using the old dishwasher model you have now.


If you're shopping for an Energy Star dishwasher, here's what you should look for:

  • Choose a dishwasher that features both heat-drying and air-drying options. Having both options will enable you to select the air-drying option that uses considerably less energy.
  • Compact dishwasher models use less energy because they require less hot water to complete the cycle. Unfortunately, compact dishwashers hold fewer dishes and must be run several times if you have a large family, resulting in greater energy use. Knowing this will help you pick the right size dishwasher for the least energy output.
  • Look for features like “energy-saving” and “short-wash” cycles. These more efficient operating cycles help you use less water and save energy.

If you own an older dishwasher model, here are some energy-saving tips:

  • Whether you're pre-rinsing dishes for the dishwasher or rinsing hand-washed dishes, use cold water.
  • Better yet, skip the pre-rinsing steps in your dishwashing routine and save 20 gallons of water per load while getting the same cleaning effects just by scraping the food off the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
  • Avoid using the “rinse hold” setting on your dishwasher. “Rinse hold” uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water for each use, which requires extra energy.
  • Open your dishwasher's door and allow the dishes to air-dry instead of using the dishwasher's “heat-dry” setting. This will cut your dishwasher's energy use from 15 percent to 5 percent, and won't require any extra electricity.
  • Run the dishwasher less often by filling it completely. You can save 400 gallons of water each month just by running your dishwasher only when it's full.
  • Use short cycles for everything but the dirtiest dishes, as these use less energy and work just as well.
  • Some modern dishwashers have booster heaters to heat the water that comes from your home's water tank. Turning the water tank's thermostat to 120 degrees will result in additional energy savings without compromising cleanliness.
  • Keeping your dishwasher in good working order and free of buildup with regular maintenance will help extend its lifespan and save you money on major repairs that become necessary with neglect.


Kiva on Dec. 8, 2012 at 6:17 a.m.

I heard that the most energy-efficient dishwashers now can use less water than handwashing. I'm not sure though?

sandra on May 27, 2015 at 8:20 p.m.

I just cleaned my dishwasher with baking soda, borax and white vinegar and my dishes don't have as many oopses on them. About a cup each.

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