Here are the Top 10 Tips for Making Your Dishwasher More Green:
1. Go for the full load
Before running the dishwasher, wait until you have a full load (same rule of thumb for the clothes washer). This will help make the most of the energy, water, and detergent the machine uses.
2. Choose your washer wisely
Choose a dishwasher that is rated for energy and water efficiency. In the U.S., you can start by looking for Energy Star rated appliances, which use 25% less energy than the mandated minimum. Also, know how to read the yellow EnergyGuide sticker you’ll find on all new dishwashers–as well as other appliances.
3. Join the clean plate club
Go for dishwashing liquid and powder that is natural, biodegradable, and free of petroleum and phosphates. Also look for products sold in bulk to save on packaging. Powdered detergents are lighter and so require less energy to ship. For more, see How to Green Your Cleaning. If you are running into spotting problems using phosphate-free detergents, try using a natural residue eliminator like Wave Jet.
More hints after the jump!
4. Skip the pre-rinse
Most dishwashers today are powerful enough to get the all the gunk off, so a lot of pre-rinsing by hand is often just a waste of water and time. Plus, if you rinse all of the dirt off, your dog will have nothing to lick while you’re throwing those plates in.
5. Turn down the heat
Most modern dishwashers have booster heaters to heat the water that comes from your home’s water tank. Seems pretty redundant, right? Turning the water tank’s thermostat down to 120 degrees results in additional energy savings without compromising on cleanliness.
6. Air dry
Instead of letting your washer use electric heat or a fan to dry the dishes, just open the door at the end of the washing cycle and let them air dry. Leave the dishes to dry overnight and they’ll be ready for you when you wake up.
7. Pick the right size
Choose the size model that fits your needs. A compact model is more efficient than a large one unless you have to run it several times a day. For a single person, this might be just right.
8. One glass fewer
Using fewer dishes and utensils over the course of the day means doing fewer loads in the dishwasher, saving energy, water, and detergent.
9. Keep those large appliances away from each other
Putting your dishwasher next to your refrigerator will make the fridge have to work harder due to the heat coming off the washer.
10. Wash off-peak
Delay the start of your dishwasher for off-peak utility hours (some units have timers that will start the cycle at a programmed time). Some utilities even offer reduced rates for energy used during this period, and this is likely to become more and more common in the U.S.