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Going Green With Your Dishwasher

Aug 15, 2008
It may be commonplace to think that a green dishwasher is a dirty dishwasher. Wrong. There are ways in which you can save gallons of water and hundreds of pounds, just by making a few changes to your current kitchen habits. And because dishwashing machines are a part of life for the majority of people, these tips and guidelines can help underscore that - if used properly - a dishwasher can be more eco friendly than hand washing.

The right size is fitting

By picking the size model that suits your needs, you can have a more economic use of a dishwasher that fits your home. A large model may be less efficient than a compact one.

Load it up

Before putting a load in to wash, wait until the dishwasher is totally full. This will result in a better use of the energy and water that the machine will use. Using a fully-loaded dishwasher, without pre-rinsing, uses on average 35% less water than hand-washing all of those dirty dishes.

After hours

By using the timer on your dishwasher to delay the start of a wash, you can ensure that each cycle will begin only on off-peak utility hours - which will save you money in the long run.

What's your washer

Make sure you are using a dishwasher that has been marked for energy and water efficiency. After all 80% of the energy used by dishwashers goes to heating the water. By replacing an older dishwasher with a current module it can save in energy costs and 1,000 gallons of water annually.

Separate your whites

Keep those large kitchen appliances away from each other. Putting your dishwasher next to your refrigerator will make the fridge and freezer have to work harder due to the heat coming off the washer.

What are you washing with

There are dishwashing liquids and powders available that are biodegradable, natural, and free of petroleum and phosphates. And if you want to go that step further, look for products sold in bulk to save on packaging and choose powdered detergents, which are altogether lighter and so require less energy to ship.

No need to pre-rinse

Today dishwashers are powerful enough to get all the dirt off, so any pre-rinsing by hand is often a waste of water, and a habit you can do without. By loading your dishwasher full, without pre-rinsing, could save up to 400 gallons a month.

Turn to 120

These days modern dishwashers have additional booster heaters to heat the water that comes from your home's water tank. By turning the water tank's thermostat down to 120 degrees, you will make further energy savings without conceding your cleanliness.

Air Time

When your wash is finished the machine will use an electric heater or a fan to dry the dishes - you can avoid this by just opening the door at the end of the cycle and letting the air dry those dishes off. Here's a tip - leave the dishes to dry overnight and they'll be ready by the time you've woken up.

Cutting down

It sounds simple, but it is possible one of the most common dishwashing misdemeanours. Using fewer dishes and utensils over the course of the day means doing less loads in the dishwasher - saving energy, water, and detergent.

For extra marks

Using a passive solar heating system can provide the hot water you need for your dishwasher. And if your dishwasher is more than ten years old, replace it in favour of a modern, more efficient model - today's machines are tested and accredited, as they use far less water and energy than older models.
About the Author
Ryan Whatley is the going green expert at EcoSwitch The environmental social network.
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