Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating.
- 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. Soaking or pre-washing is generally only recommended in cases of burned- or dried-on food.
- Be sure your dishwasher is full (not overloaded) when you run it.
- Avoid using the “rinse hold” on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3-7 gallons of hot water each use.
- 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 slightly so the dishes will dry faster.
When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for the ENERGY STAR label to find one that uses less water and energy than required by federal standards. They are required to use 4.25 gallons of water per cycle or less — older dishwashers purchased before 1994 use more than 10 gallons of water per cycle.