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Sat, Feb. 22

Column: Newer dishwashers more energy-efficient

Q: With the Christmas holiday dinner preparation behind us, and then confronted with washing of the dishes, our family entered into a lively discussion about dishwasher vs. hand washing. What are your thoughts on the great debate of our dish-washing conflict? Cecilia, Ed and 16 family members.

A: After some careful research and talking with Doug Rupp of Quality Maytag, washing dishes using an Energy Star dishwasher rather than washing by hand can save you money and time. If you wash your dishes by hand, you're wasting more than just time.

I must admit that I am one that washes and rinses the dishes prior to inserting them into the dishwasher. Why do I do that? My New Year's Resolution is in the making. Doug said, "instead of scrubbing and rinsing each dish, just load them all in an ENERGY STAR dishwasher and press start." Dishwashers love cleaning food off the dishes and that is when they work best, by chomping and chewing off the food particles. Using an ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher can save you over 230 hours of personal time over the course of a year and what I couldn't do with almost 10 extra days in my life!

Wash by hand or run the dishwasher? The short answer is that running an Energy Star dishwasher loaded to capacity is the best, most efficient method of doing the dishes. It's also the least time-consuming. But efficient hand-washing is a close second in terms of electricity and water use, particularly if your only other option is to use an older machine.

Found as a baseline from Smarter Living "remember water flows out of your tap at a rate of 3 to 5 gallons per minute. Energy Star-qualified dishwashers use as little as three gallons of water and one kilowatt-hour of energy per load. New machines not only use less water and energy but are also better at cleaning dishes, and manufacturers recommend against rinsing dishes by hand before loading a washer. This practice can waste up to 20 gallons of water, while the machine's rinse cycle requires only one to two gallons. But if you must rinse your dishes beforehand, use cold water instead of hot."

Washing by hand is almost as good as using a new machine, provided that the hand-washer uses efficient techniques. Installing an aerator in your faucet can save 3 to 4 gallons for every minute that your tap is running. Scraping food off, soaking dishes in a basin of soapy water before getting started, and not letting the water run while you wash every dish will help you save water and energy.

Coming in third is using an older machine. Depending on how long you've had it, your dishwasher could use anywhere from 8 to 15 gallons per load and up to three times as much energy as a new machine. In any event, running a full load is the best way to get the most out of your machine, since it will use the same amount of water and heat whether it's washing one saucer or a dinner party's worth. Skip the dry cycle and let your dishes air dry.

Regular washing by hand takes last place; it can use a whopping 27 gallons of water and 2.5 kWh of electricity if you let the water run the whole time.

If you haven't replaced your dishwasher in more than a decade, think about switching to a new model. You'll get a return on your investment.

One of the advantages of energy-efficient machines is that they use less hot water and have soil sensors to adjust the length of a wash cycle and the water temperature according to how dirty your plates are. That way, your dishwasher won't waste energy cleaning dishes more than they need to be cleaned. If your machine has a "light wash" or "energy saving" mode, that's another way to save on water and power.

A new ENERGY STAR dishwasher can use less than half as much energy as washing dishes by hand and saves nearly 5,000 gallons of water a year!

The dishwasher has revolutionized the chore of cleaning endless amounts of plates, utensils and cups. However, many people still do it by hand. Yet experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and the Natural Resources Defense Council all agree on one thing: It's time to turn to technology, if it's available to you.

Dishwashers have come a long way over the years, and it's possible to find modern, eco-friendly models that use between two and eight gallons of water - far less than what goes into washing dishes by hand. Notably, models made after 2013 now have to adhere to a 5-gallon limit, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Put away that sponge because dishwashers can give you a level of cleanliness you can't achieve by hand. Most dishwashers operate with water between 140 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit to eliminate gunk. Some dishwashers have a sanitation option, which means the dishwasher meets the NSF/ANSI 184 Standard, reaching a rinse temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit and reduces bacteria by 99.999 percent. When washing dishes in the sink, your hands simply can't withstand those temperatures and hot-water heaters are preset to top out at 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding.

It's also worth noting additional innovations in dishwashing technology that have debuted over the years. For example, many dishwashers now have sensors that detect the amount of dirtiness of the items inside. In response, the machine uses only as much water and heat as necessary.

And remember in addition to using a dishwasher which can save hours of your time each year, your hands will feel better and not to mention you will not have to stand on your feet with elbows on the edge of the sink scrubbing pots after every meal.

It does actually make a difference by using the dishwasher, but keep in mind there are many parameters and factors involved, such as the size of the household, how often you do dishes, the age and efficiency of your dishwasher.

Remember to tune in to YCCA's "Hammer Time" every Saturday or Sunday at 7 a.m. on KQNA 1130 AM/99.9 FM or the web Listen to Sandy to Mike talk about the construction industry and meet your local community partners.

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