Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

May 15, 2006

Don’t Wash Your Dishes Twice

Category: Garden,Household,Save Electricity,Save Water,Take Actions – Tom Harrison – 8:49 pm

A few years ago we got a new dishwasher. Amongst other things, it has a feature not present on the prior model: it didn’t require that dishes were clean before you put them in. I saw this as a challenge, and now try to avoid turning on the faucet at all when washing the dishes.

This is a challenge for some human dishwashers. In other words, people like my Mom, who wash dishes scrupulously before putting them in. But modern dishwashers are pretty efficient: they heat the water hot once, then swirl the same water around a lot. Good ones have disposer units that grind up little food bits, and also only wash as much as needed by checking to see if the water is clean after a rinse. Which is pretty much all reasonable dishwashers built in the last 10 years or so.

With two kids, we end up doing about one load of dishes a day. Some days are lighter than others, and in those cases, we put the pots in instead of doing them by hand: the dishwasher will use about the same amount of water anyway. And one less thing to wash by hand.

We also try to use less water when washing hands, flush the toilet no more than needed, take short showers, water the grass as little as possible (which given the current flood-of-biblical-proportions here in the Boston area doesn’t seem like an issue), so down the temperature on the water heater, do as little laundry as possible using a good washer and dryer and …

You get the point: that which you don’t use is the best energy savings of all.

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