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Dishwashers: Easy money-saving tips

Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating. The EnergyGuide label estimates how much power is needed per year to run the appliance and to heat the water based on the yearly cost of natural gas and electric water heating. The smaller the number on the EnergyGuide label, the lower the amount of power is needed.

Tips to save money when using your dishwasher:

  • Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer's recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120°F).
  • Scrape, don't rinse, off large food pieces and bones.
  • Don't use the 'pre washing' feature. Soaking or pre washing is generally only recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food.
  • Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded, when you run it.
  • Don't use the "rinse hold" on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. The "rinse hold" feature uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it.
  • Let your dishes air dry; if you don't have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster.
  • When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for the ENERGY STAR label to find a dishwasher that uses less water and 25% less energy than required by federal standards.

Things to consider when buying a dishwasher:

  • Does it have a built-in disposal? A hard food disposal virtually eliminates the need to pre-rinse dishes.
  • How well does it clean? Dishwashers vary in design from models that contain a center wash tower to models that have up to two additional spray arms. The spray holes are the most important factor in cleaning. The smaller the spray holes, the faster the spray and the better the scrubbing action.
  • What is the capacity? Look for the number of place settings the dishwasher holds. A tower-less dishwasher provides more space for dishes.
  • How about flexibility? Flexible features allow the dishwasher to adapt to odd-shaped items such as adjustable racks for loading tall items, fold-down tines for loading pots and pans — and stemware holders for securing wine glasses.

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