Dishwashers, especially older models, can use a lot of resources and run up utility bills. Unfortunately, many people do not have the hundreds of extra dollars required to replace their existing dishwashers with more efficient energy star appliances. If this situation applies to you, take heart. There are simple things that you can do in order to conserve water and power while still running your older dishwasher.
One of the most important steps you can take toward greater dishwasher efficiency is to run only full loads. This means that you should try not to run the appliance each time you have a meal or dirty a few dishes. Remember that your dishwasher uses the same amount of water and power whenever you wash a few glasses or an dish dishwasher full of dishes. Plan ahead, and wash one load per day or a load every few days as needed. Washing as many dishes as you can at the same time will give you maximum value for your energy investment.
If you are letting dishes sit in the dishwasher in order to wait for a full load, you may be tempted to pre-rinse them, but this is a waste of water. In fact, pre-rinsing dishes can waste up to 20 gallons of water per dishwasher load. There is still, however, the fact that if food is left on dishes, it can dry into a residue that the dishwasher will not remove. In order to avoid creating a difficult to clean mess, simply scrape the dishes instead of rinsing them before you put them into the dishwasher.
Another good way to save resources is to avoid using your dishwasher's heated dry cycle. This cycle wastes a lot of energy, so use the air-dry setting on your appliance instead. If your dishwasher does not have an air-dry setting, just open the appliance when the wash cycle is complete to let your dishes air-dry. If the drying process takes too long for you, you can use a water-sheeting agent, like Jet Dry®, when you run the dishwasher. This will cause much less water to sit on your dishes, improving drying time.
Along with how you run your dishwasher, consider when you run your appliance if you want to shave as much money as possible off of your electric bill. Some municipalities charge more for power used during peak energy hours. By running your dishwasher before or after these hours, you can pay less per load to wash your dishes. Check with your electric supplier to determine if your city offers this type of discount and to find out when peak hours begin and end.
Even if you can not invest in a new dishwasher right now, you can still wash dishes more efficiently. Try the simple tips above, and starting saving on your utility bills today.