12 Tips to Green your Dishwashing

To green your dishwashing, be sure to buy an energy and water efficient dishwasher, wash full loads, avoid hand-washing, and buy eco-friendly detergent.

The following in an excerpt from the book “The Ultimate Guide to Greening your Home”.

✔ Choose an EnergyStar rated dishwasher – EnergyStar rated dishwashers use advanced technology to get your dishes clean while using less water and energy.  EnergyStar qualified models are, on average, 10% more energy efficient than non-qualified models.

If you have a dishwasher made before 1994, you could be paying an extra $40 a year on your utility bills and wasting about 8 gallons of water per cycle compared to owning and operating a EnergyStar qualified model.

✔ Use the dishwasher instead of hand-washing - According to a report published by the University of Bonn, a dishwasher uses only half the energy, one-sixth of the water, and less soap than washing dishes by hand.  Another report from the California Energy Commission states that dishwashers use, on average, 37% less water than hand washing. If, however, you fill up one sink with wash water and one with rinse water (versus letting the water run), then you’ll use half the water a regular dishwasher uses.

✔ Use natural, nontoxic dishwasher detergents – Many household cleaning products, including dishwasher detergents and dish liquids, contain toxic chemicals that contribute to unhealthy indoor air pollution. Try to find dishwashing liquid and powder that are labeled natural, biodegradable, and free of petroleum and phosphates.

Pay special attention to dishwasher detergents that still contain phosphates. Phosphates are used to reduce spotting on dishes. Phosphates present a serious water pollution problem and have already been phased out of laundry detergents.

✔ Be Sure to use a dishpan or sink plug if hand-washing - If washing dishes by hand, be sure to use a dishpan or sink plug.  A significant amount of water is wasted when left running.

✔ Check the yellow EnergyGuide label - The EnergyGuide label indicates how much energy the model uses, compares the energy use of similar models and approximates annual operating costs.

✔ Choose the right size model for your home - Compact models generally use less energy, but if you have to operate it more frequently, you may actually use more energy than you would with a standard model over time.

✔ Choose a dishwasher with several wash cycle options - If your dishes are only slightly soiled, you can use a light or energy-saving wash cycle, which uses less water and operates for a shorter time.

✔ Choose a dishwasher cycle that uses less heat – Because water heating accounts for eighty percent of the energy used by the average dishwasher, choosing a cycle that uses less heat can cut your dishwasher’s energy consumption. Lower heat cycles are best for lightly soiled loads.

✔ Wash full loads – By washing full loads, you will make the most of the energy, water, and detergent that your dishwasher uses. Washing small loads (wasted water and energy) and excessively full loads (may not wash your dishes fully) should both be avoided.

✔ Air dry your dishes – Consider opening the door at the end of the washing cycle and let your dishes air dry over night.  By air drying your dishes, you will eliminate the need to use the electricity used in heating.

✔ Don’t pre-rinse if using a dishwasher - Most modern dishwashers do not require dishes to be pre-rinsed before putting them into the dishwasher.  Simply scrape your dishes to remove all large food particles.  Pre-rinsing can waste a large volume of water.

✔ Check the features – Look for features that will reduce water use, such as booster heaters, air-dry option and smart controls.

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