Run your dishwasher instead of hand-washing dishes
Hand-washing dishes often results in several gallons of water running down the drain each day. Running your dishwasher instead of hand-washing dishes can help reduce your water usage by about 35 percent.
How to save more water and energy when using your dishwasher
Yes, you can be an eco-friendly dishwasher by using your automatic dishwashing machine! So boost your dishwashing efficiency with these energy- and water-saving ideas:
- Run your dishwasher only when it’s full to save up to 400 gallons of water per month.
- Air-dry dishes by selecting the air-dry setting or opening your dishwasher's door instead of using the heat-dry cycle. This can cut your dishwasher’s energy use by 15 percent to 50 percent.
- Forgo pre-rinsing dishes before loading them in your dishwasher to save up to 25 gallons per load.
Want to save even more by using your dishwasher? Replace your old dishwasher with an ENERGY STAR dishwasher. These dishwashers are at least 41 percent more efficient than minimum Federal energy consumption standards. Not only do they use an average of 1,000 fewer gallons of water per year, but they also use significantly less electricity, mainly by heating water more efficiently.
Look for a dishwasher with a built-in hot water booster to bring additional energy savings. This raises the water temperature inside the dishwasher to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (recommended for optimal cleaning), allowing the main household water heater to be turned down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less. For every 10 degrees a water heater's thermostat is lowered, the water-heating bill drops by up to 13 percent.
Running your dishwasher instead of hand-washing dishes helps you go green because…
- It uses significantly less water, particularly if it's fully loaded. By contrast, hand-washing often means the faucet runs continuously, allowing gallons of water to pour down the drain. Water use is even higher if dishes are hand-washed multiple times per day.
On average, hand washing dishes uses significantly more water because most people tend to leave the faucet running or wash dishes several times a day. Running a dishwasher fully loaded, particularly if dishes aren’t pre-rinsed, uses about 35 percent less water than washing dishes by hand.
One study by researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany found that hand-washing dishes uses between five and 86 gallons of water compared to four to five gallons for the average European dishwasher. Americans didn't participate in the study, but statistics show the average US dishwasher uses nine to 12 gallons per load (less for energy-efficient models) versus up to 20 gallons for hand-washing. With American households running a dishwasher only four or five times a week, on average, that represents a considerable savings over washing by hand, particularly when dishes are hand-washed once or more a day.
The only time that hand-washing dishes uses less water than a dishwasher is when a dishpan or sink basin is filled and no additional water is run. This method consumes about half of what a dishwasher uses per load.
- ENERGY STAR - Dishwashers
- Flex Your Power - Dishwashers
- Portland Tribune - Dishwasher vs. hand-wash?
- National Geographic - Is Your Home a Greenhouse?
- Arizona Water Resource - Human Dishwashers’ Water Efficiency Studied
- US Department of Energy - Dishwasher Test Procedure
- California Energy Commission Consumer Energy Center - Dishwashers