Energy tip #14: use your dishwasher for good, not for evil

dishes.gifGot a dishwasher? If you happen to have an dishwasher and are running it on a daily basis, there are a few small things you can do to cut down on energy use.

  1. Don’t run the dishwasher’s dry cycle. Simply stop the dishwasher and let your fine china air dry, or just put a towel to them.
  2. Turn down the water temperature on the dishwasher to 120° F (also see Tip #13).
  3. Use the energy efficient setting if available.
  4. Pack your dishwasher efficiently.
  5. Only run full loads.

Admittedly, this is more along the lines of a mini-tip and won’t fund your monthly coffee, but it might get you a few extra brewed awakenings. Also, it’s a reminder that there are many modern conveniences that we should stop to evaluate on occassion to assess their impact and necessity.

Let’s take a peak at the numbers (courtesy of Environmental Defense and the California Energy Commission):

$/dishwasher load: $.08-.09
Savings/yr: $5
CO2 savings/yr: 100 lbs.

79 people last week pledged to turn the knob on their water heater for $ and CO2 savings (Tip #13). At roughly 2250 lbs. of CO2 per pledge, that’s a whopping savings of 177,750 lbs. Well done. This is the equivalent of 17 passenger cars not being driven for an entire year.

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  1. Ed Osann - October 11, 2006

    TP writers should actually try these tips themselves, then their writing could be more informative. Few consumers will find any valve or dial to “turn down the water temperature on the dishwasher” to 120 degrees as recommended in Tip 14. Dishwashers are plumbed with a single hot water line, so turning down the water for the dishwasher means turning down the water for the whole house. But that’s OK, since ultra-hot water is not needed anywhere else.
    Tip 14 also refers back to Tip 13, which similarly recommends turning down the temperature of the hot water heater to 120 degrees. With hot water heaters there is a dial, but typically not delineated in degrees, but rather in relative terms like “hot”, “warm” and perhaps “low” or “vacation”. It is important to avoid overheating your domestic hot water, not only to save significant amounts of energy, but also to reduce the danger of scalding, which can happen very quickly with water in the 140 to 160 degree range. 120 degree water is much safer. The “how to” reduce hot water temperature to 120, which should have been included in both tips, is to draw hot water from the tap closest to the dishwasher (the kitchen sink) letting it run for 30 seconds or so to get fully hot. Let it fill a small cooking pot, changing the water so a cold pot is not cooling the hot water. Then use a use a kitchen thermometer used for cooking to measure the temperature of the hot water in the hot pot. If the measured temperature is above the desired temperature, you’ll need to turn the dial at the hot water heater and then wait a few hours to test the temp again, since the water heater’s storage tank will tend to retain heat from the higher setting for a while, unless someone is using lots of hot water, i.e., taking a shower, in the interim.
    I suggest your tip writers try this for themselves, and then re-write these two important tips to provide more useful information..

  2. ATW - October 11, 2006

    This is a great tip, although one should keep in mind that use of today’s modern dishwashers are much more energy and water-efficient than hand-washing dishes (unless you pre-rinse, which can waste up to twice the energy and water that either would alone). Keep in mind that water is our most precious limited resource…even more so than energy!

  3. Scott - February 3, 2007

    To increase the CO2 benefit, if your dishwasher has a time delay, set it to go off during baseload rather than peak hours.
    Here’s the logic: your utility uses different generating plants at different times of the day. The most efficient ones (often corresponding to the lowest CO2) are run 24/7, then increasingly less efficient ones are turned on until demand is met.
    I try to set my dishwasher to start around 10PM, rather than right after dinner. I could go all out and aim for 3AM, but the noise would make sleeping hard.

  4. maleesh - February 8, 2007

    Along the line of turning down your hot water heater, we turn ours completely off. Its a quick recovery water heater so in 30 minutes we have enough hot water for a shower. All our clothes and dishes are washed in cold water. In the summer we never turn our water heater on. We live in Florida and the temperature in the garage keeps the water warm enough to shower.

  5. Anonymous - February 14, 2007

    I HAVE A TIP WHICH HAS SAVED ME COUNTLESS GALLONS OF WATER (and the energy necessary to produce it). Before hand washing my dishes, I run the cooler water in my pipes into a pitcher that I USE TO WATER MY INSIDE PLANTS.

  6. Bj Harding - March 17, 2007

    The Internet is loaded with claims that dishwashers are more efficient than hand washing. This claim is absurd. After researching this nonsense it appears to be mostly from a study out of the University of Bonn in Germany and appears to compare some super efficient machine to a person that uses 27 gallons of water. I’d have to drain and refill my sink five times to use that much water. The machines need 140 degree water while hand washing doesn’t even require hot water since the hand scrubbing does the work, not high pressured hot water. And nobody washes by hand using scalding hot water.

  7. Dishwasher parts - December 17, 2007

    The only real-time mpg gauge I know of comes with a gadget called Scangauge. However, as it connects with an ODB/II it won

  8. Dishwasher parts - December 17, 2007

    The only real-time mpg gauge I know of comes with a gadget called Scangauge. However, as it connects with an ODB/II it won

  9. Bosch Dishwasher - August 12, 2008

    There are so many tips to save energy when running a dishwasher….turning off the dry cycle is the easiest one to do…and remember.