Few appliances save more money than your dishwasher. In 2011, the International Journal of Consumer Studies observed the washing habits of over 200 households with and without dishwashers. After two weeks, they discovered people who use dishwashers consumed 50 percent less water and 28 percent less electricity than people who didn’t.
Their results were hardly surprising. Dishwashers aren’t only designed to save time, but water and energy as well. A fully-loaded dishwasher uses, at most, five gallons of water per cycle. Modern, Energy-Star rated models use only three and a half.
By contrast, your faucet releases roughly 2.2 gallons per minute, which means in two minutes you use almost as much water as your dishwasher does in two hours.
Most people assume washing by hand doesn’t require electricity, but forget about the power required to run their water heater. Dishwashers consume around 1200-1500 watts per cycle, about the same as your iron or blow dryer. Water heaters, on the other hand, use around 4500. In other words, washing by hand uses more electricity in a few minutes than your dishwasher does in its entire two-hour cycle!
How to Save More Money Running Your Dishwasher
While a few items (e.g. sharp knives, wooden utensils, cast iron skillets) need to be hand washed, almost everything else should be run through your dishwasher. However, in order to maximize savings, there are a few tips you should follow.
- Only Wash Full Loads. Don’t run your dishwasher every day if you don’t have enough dishes to fill it. For small households, this might mean running your dishwasher only once a week.
- Don’t Pre-Wash. Stop rinsing your dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. Dishwashers are designed to remove food residue. As long as the big chunks have been cleared away, your dishwasher can handle the rest.
- Load It Correctly. Arranging dishes improperly impedes water flow. The bottom rack is designed for plates, pots, and large dishes. The top rack is for bowls, cups, and glasses. Make sure bowls don’t overlap and everything in the bottom rack faces the center.
- Wash at Night. Never run your dishwasher during peak hours if you can help it. In summer, electricity use is generally lowest from 5 p.m.-10. p.m. In winter, it’s from 9 a.m.-5. p.m. This is when prices are cheapest.
- Clean the Nozzles. Over time, dishwashers can become clogged with food, calcium, and soap deposits. Clear away residue by placing a cup of vinegar in the bottom rack and running your dishwasher on its hottest cycle.