In leaner times, plenty of households boycott energy-sucking appliances like dishwashers and go back to basics: Manual scrubbers, a bottle of detergent and a lot of elbow grease.But is all that extra effort really helping us save in the long-run?
In short, the answer is no.
That theory might have held water a few mini-industrial revolutions ago, but technology has simply become so advanced that what was once considered a costly convenience has become vastly more affordable.
In fact, research has shown hand-washing uses as much as 27 gallons of water and 2.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy, compared with just 4 gallons of water and 1.5 kWh used by a hyperefficent dishwasher.
The keyword, of course, is ‘hyperefficient.’ Upgrading your home appliances to any of today’s energy-efficient models could be one of the wisest ways to cut back on utility bills, especially for larger households. According to the EPA, choosing an Energy Star-rated dishwasher could shave as much as $40 off your utility bills nad save 5,000 gallons of water.
Here’s how to use your dishwasher right:
Never run a partial load. Fill that sucker to the max and only use those “intense” cycle settings if you really need them. They’ll use far more energy and water than the normal settings.
Shop for soap wisely. Dishwashing detergents can contain harmful phosphates – chemicals that seep into the water system and hurt aquatic life after they’ve made their rounds in wastewater treatment plants. Search for phosphate-free brands (they shouldn’t be hard to find, as many states have banned them from detergents anyway).
Don’t prerinse. mums everywhere are probably balking at this, but if your dishwasher’s modern enough the chances are high that it can handle that bit of gunk. “Scraping the plate clean right after eating instead can save up to 20 gallons of water per load,” says Money Talks News’ Brandon Ballenger.
Air dry. Here’s a great tip on cutting energy costs even further – open the door after the cycle’s finished and let the dishes air dry right in the rack.