Guide to greener kitchens: dishwashers 8/11
(This article is adapted from ConsumerReports.org.)
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Today's dishwashers use about half the water and energy that models consumed a decade ago, thanks largely to tougher energy-efficiency standards. But some still guzzle far more than other models. For example, using the steam mode found on some dishwashers consumed about one-third more water and energy. And drawer-type dishwashers have used more energy and water than conventional models in Consumer Reports' dishwasher tests. Several models from Bosch, Kenmore, KitchenAid, Miele, and Whirlpool had excellent energy efficiency in the tests.
Dishwashers that qualify for the government's Energy Star program are supposed to use even less energy and water; Consumer Reports' tests show which models washed best and were most efficient in our more-rigorous tests. Also consider a model with a half-load feature if you don't rack up lots of dishes at once.
These steps can help you save energy and water with the dishwasher you already own.
• Scrape but don't pre-rinse dishes before loading, as pre-rinsing can easily waste more than 6,000 gallons of water per household each year.Be sure to check the Consumer Reports’ dishwasher buying guide for more information.
• Check to see if you have hard water, which decreases dishwasher efficiency. Telltale signs are a whitish crust on your dishwasher's heating element and cloudy or spotted glasses. A municipal water report that shows calcium, magnesium, and other mineral levels at 121 milligrams per liter or higher is another indication. Remedies include putting an additive in with the detergent and investing in a whole-house water softener.
• If you want to wash your dishes before the machine is full, use the rinse-and-hold cycle, which uses about half the water you'd consumer for hand washing.
• Load large items at the side and back so they don't block the water. And face the soiled surfaces inward so they're hit by the spray.
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