What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Dishwashers are great time savers but they can be problematic as well. As I mentioned in my previous post, the payback period for most dishwashers will exceed the lifespan of the machine. So a dishwasher shouldn't be bought with the idea that a newer model will save money in terms of operational costs. There are measures you can take to reduce operational costs that I will discuss later in this post. The two key factors when buying a dishwasher tend to be does it clean and how quiet is it but the key question should be what is the environmental impact.

A dishwasher impacts the environment during its manufacture, its useful lifetime and at the time of disposal. You have no control over how your perspective dishwasher was manufactured but you can do the research and choose a manufacturer based on its environmental track record. If you come across a manufacturer where you like their product but not the way they manufacturer it, write them to explain why you are not buying their product. The energy efficiency of a dishwasher is critical regardless of the payback period. Choose a dishwasher with the environmental impact of disposal in mind. The stainless steel interiors are wonderful during the useful lifespan but not so wonderful when disposing of a dishwasher.

Dishwashers use energy not only to operate but water has to be heated. So those are two areas where you can save a bit. The hot water heater should be set to 140ºF for dishwashers however since most dishwashers pre-heat the water it could be set to 130ºF, the safe temperature to prevent bacterial growth in the tank. Be sure the pre-heating function for the dishwasher is turned on. When it comes to loading, follow your manufacturer's guidelines. Improper loading leads to frustration when dishes are not cleaned as expected and wastes electricity. My rule of thumb is to never run less than a full load if possible. The only exception is during the heavy canning season where I may end running the dishwasher two to three times a day on water miser mode mainly for preparing jars.

Since we have been in this house, I have been using Electrosol 2 in 1 Gel. This detergent often goes on sale for about $2 per bottle so we stock up. Unfortunately stocking up is not always beneficial as we saw when we had an abundance of laundry soap that cannot be used in the front loading washer. This time it is not as bad as I only have 2 1/2 bottles of the liquid dishwasher detergent. Every sales person we have talked to has said to use powdered dishwasher detergent only along with the rinse agent. I don't really mind changing back to powdered as quite often it is less expensive. My only reason for using liquid was humidity both natural and kitchen generated causes the powdered detergents to clump. Some on the various frugal groups are using washing soda (Mule Team Borax) instead of detergent in their dishwashers. While this may not save money it is a more environmentally friendly choice and it is unscented to avoid polluting your indoor air. Finally on the topic of detergents, many on the frugal groups have also indicated using less than the manufacturer's recommended amount of dishwasher detergent. This may be false frugality if the dishes do not come clean and you end up washing them again so you may have to experiment to get the right amount.

One thing I do monthly to keep the dishwasher running smoothly is to run a short cycle using white vinegar. The clears any water deposits build-up without damaging the valves or seals like bleach will. In fact bleach should not be used in a dishwasher because of this problem. Vinegar is an inexpensive way to keep your dishwasher cleaning to its potential.

The final way to save is soon to be available here and already available in other location is called the Smart Meter. This meter replaces your normal electric meter then determines the time of day you are using electricity. The electric company rewards you by giving lower kWh rates for using electricity outside of the peak daily times of electricity consumption as determined by the electric company. An added bonus for rural residents is the smart meters will eliminate estimated billing as well. Now by running your dishwasher during the lower kWh times you will save on the operational costs. It's a win win situation in terms of energy usage.

Garden Gnome
© 2007


Anonymous said...

When I bought my first Bosch dishwasher the gentalman installing it told me to run Tang through a washing cycle(no dishes)By doing this it would break down soap deposits the side benefit is it smells wonderfully clean. I tried to do this once a month and I've had the dishwasher over 10 years.
Unfortunatlely all good things mush come to and end and this week I purchased another Bosch which should arrive in 3 weeks.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi and thanks for visiting! I've heard about using Tang in the dishwasher so will have to try that. Congratulations on your new purchase. The Bosch dishwashers are great machines.