February 15, 2010

The Dish on Water

R and I are looking to replace a couple of appliances (yay, tax refund!) and save some water. The bummer is that none of the salespeople really know anything about how much water a dishwasher uses. We can't possibly be the only people asking this question. Grateful Mama suggested the ASKO dishwasher because it uses about two teaspoons of water per wash, but getting our hands on one seems a bit complicated. In the meantime, I found this handy article:

"As of August 11, 2009, ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers are required to use 5.8 gallons of water per cycle or less. Older dishwashers use much more water than newer models. A dishwasher purchased before 1994 uses about 8 additional gallons of water in each cycle compared to a new ENERGY STAR qualified model. . .

If you want to save even more water: scrape don't rinse. Pre-rinsing dishes before loading the dishwashers can use up to 20 gallons of water. Just scrape food off the dishes and load. ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers and today's detergents are designed to do the cleaning so you don't have to pre-rinse. If your dirty dishes are going to sit overnight, use your dishwasher's rinse feature. It uses a fraction of the water needed to hand rinse.

Also keep in mind, washing dishes by hand uses much more water than using a dishwashers. Using an ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers instead of hand washing will save you annually 5,000 gallons of water, $40 in utility costs, and 230 hours of your time."

I have to admit that I've never used the old beast's rinse feature, so I guess I'll try that instead of re-washing the dishes when they come out.

My bigger problem is all of the things I don't put in the dishwasher: anything plastic (because of that whole BPA thing), pots, pans, mixing bowls (because they don't fit) and frequently used items like paring knives, beaters, apple slicer, or anything fragile like wine glasses. I end up hand-washing many, many dishes, and I don't see that changing with a fancy shmancy new appliance.

I did just give up the non-recyclable dish sponge and switch to washcloths. It's been a bit of a tricky transition as none of us can agree about where to hang the cloth-- faucet? counter? left in a heap at the bottom of the sink? (Sweet P's preference.)

Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to trade in the Do-Be, which is a bummer because they're forever tearing along the edges. I'm open to suggestions.

PS. Frog Papa sent me a link to a dishwashing article from the Journal of Extension.
Here's an extra tidbit from them:

"3.Proper water temperature is critical for satisfactory cleaning results. The Soap and Detergent Association (2000) recommends a water temperature no lower than 130 degrees F, and other sources recommend temperatures of 140, 150 degrees F. To save energy as well as provide a safer water temperature for family use, many households have lowered their water heater temperature to 120 degrees F or lower. It is advised that consumers purchase dishwashers with an auxiliary or booster heater that increases the water temperature in the dishwasher to 140 to 160 degrees F. Such features may add to the cost of the dishwasher initially, but the energy savings from reducing the temperature on the home water heater will pay for the feature many times over."

For those of you who are awaiting Part III of the short story, it's going to be a while. Somehow I've skipped writing the middle and gone straight to the end, which I don't think will be fun for anyone else.


Anonymous said...

oh my, I had no idea how much water our dishwasher(me) was wasting...maybe I need to stop storing all my candy and party platters in mine and take it for a spin. Thanks WikiFrisha...xo fmf

Anonymous said...

I'm with fmf - I've been hand washing forever - since grade school. I do not have room for a dishwasher in my itty bitty kitchen. I think I save time by not using a dishwasher, just loading and unloading the darn thing. However, I am interested in the tax rebate for a new washing machine. Though, I used to wash my own jeans (teenage stuff) in the bathtub; I have moved on... Love, Mom