We know that dishwashers save us a lot of time compared with old-fashioned scrubbing. But does a dishwasher save water as well? Yes, they do — on average, a dishwasher uses water four times more efficiently than washing by hand, according to Which. But of course, dishwashers also use energy which costs our wallets and the planet. So this brings us to the question of how to use your dishwasher for energy efficiency.
In this guide, we’ll give you the tips you need to save energy and money while making your dishes sparkle. The good news is, there’s nothing hard or technical about using your dishwasher efficiently. It’s all about using the features that most dishwashers have already.
On top of this, manufacturers are always pushing to make their appliances more practical and efficient. This means that if you’re looking for a new dishwasher, their energy efficiency is improving all the time.
Okay then, let’s dive into our tips and make this subject crystal clear (just like your glassware).
How your dishwasher can save you more than just money
When used wisely, a dishwasher should save you time, effort, water and money. That’s not to mention the relief of avoiding those arguments about whose turn it is to do the washing up.
On the downside, dishwashers do use electricity. However, they’re probably not the most energy-hungry appliances in your home either. If we’re talking about electricity usage, your fridge usually uses the most, because it’s on all the time.
Still, there are potential energy savings you can make when using your dishwasher. Here’s a summary of the tips we’re going to cover:
- Forget about pre-rinsing
- Only turn it on when it’s full
- Use the right dishwasher setting
- Let things dry by themselves
Forget about pre-rinsing
One of the biggest dishwasher myths is that you need to rinse things before putting them in. While we might think we’re doing the dishwasher a favour, it’s really not needed. Rinsing uses precious water and probably doesn’t improve the results.
In fact, by pre-rinsing dishes before the dishwasher you’re likely wasting around 1115 litres of water a year, according to Finish.
The truth is that modern dishwashers use high temperatures to clean stubborn stains from cutlery, dishes and pans with no trouble. So pre-rinsing plates is a bit like hand washing your car before taking it to the car wash
Having said that, if you’ve got a pan with burnt-on food, you might want to give that a soak first. Just be aware that running the tap can use a lot more water than you think.
Top tip: there’s no need to pre-rinse, but for best performance be sure to scrape any food off before putting things in the dishwasher. This saves water and helps to stop your dishwasher from getting clogged up.
Only turn it on when it’s full
If you use your dishwasher when it’s only part loaded, you’re wasting energy, water and dishwasher tablets. You don’t want to overload the dishwasher either though, as that won’t let the machine wash everything thoroughly and also risks straining the shelves. Then you’ll have to hand wash the items that didn’t get clean, thus using up more water.
Top tip: try to fill your dishwasher each time, without overloading it. If you’re not sure which items to put where for maximum efficiency, check out Whirlpools guide on how to load a dishwasher properly.
Use the dishwasher eco mode
Most modern dishwashers have an ‘eco’ mode, which can use up to 20% less energy than the standard settings. Eco mode works by lowering the wash and rinse temperatures during the cycle, which means less energy spent on heating the water. The cycle may take longer than a standard cycle though, because the machine is moving the water around more to compensate for the lower temperature.
Let things dry by themselves
At the end of a washing cycle, most dishwashers will dry the dishes using a built-in electric heater or fan. But if you’re prepared to wait a bit longer, you can just open the dishwasher door at the end of the cycle and let the items air dry instead.
Some dishwashers are designed to open automatically in the last stages of the drying cycle. As well as saving energy this also lets water evaporate off the dishes, helping them get dry quicker.
More tips to improve your dishwashers efficiency
Up to now we’ve just looked at how to use your dishwasher for energy efficiency. On top of those tips, there are also some factors about the dishwasher itself that can affect its performance. These include where the dishwasher is in your home and the size and model of the appliance.
Where the dishwasher is placed
When choosing a spot for your dishwasher, it’s important to leave some space between it and your other white goods. This is to make sure they don’t overheat or knock into each other, if one of them vibrates during its cycle. Over time, appliances that are too close to one another could run into issues that affect their energy efficiency and may need repairs.
It’s not advised to put your dishwasher next to your fridge or freezer, because the heat and humidity from the dishwasher will affect the cooling processes. On the other hand, your dishwasher will probably need to be near the sink so it can be plumbed in easily. And you don’t want your dishwasher far from where you keep the dishes, as that will waste time when unloading it. Thankfully, most kitchens nowadays are designed with dishwashers in mind, so it shouldn’t be hard to find a suitable spot.
The size of dishwasher
A larger dishwasher is likely to cost more to run than an equally efficient dishwasher of a smaller size. However, there’s no point in buying a small dishwasher if you have a large family. The more often you have to run the dishwasher, the more it will be affected by normal wear and tear. Ultimately you should choose a dishwasher which is right for the volume of items you need to wash regularly.
The dishwasher’s energy rating
If you’re in need of an upgrade, be sure to check the energy rating label before you make your investment. You want to choose a dishwasher that is efficient for both energy and water use. The energy rating system currently goes from A, the most efficient, down to G, the least efficient. Typically, a higher energy efficiency rating will save you money over the life of the appliance. However, every model is different and it’s worth comparing the details before making your choice.
Share your new dishwasher know-how
If you want to make an impact beyond your home, why not share these tips with your friends and family? That way, we can all pitch in to conserve energy and shrink our electric bills.