Top-Notch Energy-Efficient Dishwashers
CR's tests show that you can save energy and have clean plates, too
Today’s dishwashers use about half the water and energy that dishwashers used 20 years ago. Thanks to tougher federal efficiency standards, water usage is down to about 4 to 6 gallons per load—and less water means less energy required to heat it.
That explains why many dishwashers in CR’s ratings earn an Excellent rating for energy efficiency. But the improvements didn't come without some compromise.
“When manufacturers reduced the water use to meet the standard, they had to extend wash times and recirculate the water so that dishes would still get clean,” says Larry Ciufo, an engineer who oversees CR’s dishwasher tests. The ones in our ratings take anywhere from 90 minutes to more than 3 hours to do a full load using the normal cycle or its equivalent.
Make Your Dishwasher Even More Efficient
There are a few ways you can improve any dishwasher's efficiency. Here are some tips from CR experts and the Department of Energy:
• Run a full load. Even if you have to wait a few days to run the dishwasher, it makes sense to hold off on cleaning a load until it’s a full one. If you’re concerned that the dirty dishes will produce a funky odor, use the rinse-and-hold cycle. Learn more about loading a dishwasher.
• Don’t prerinse dishes. Prerinsing uses up to 20 gallons of water, according to Energy Star, plus the energy required to heat it. And if your dishwasher has a soil sensor, rinsing dishes can actually work against you. If the sensor detects that the load is fairly clean, the dishwasher will run a light wash, which can leave pieces of food stuck on bowls and plates. A better strategy? Just scrape food from plates before loading them.
• Air-dry dishes. If your dishwasher has a heated-dry option, experiment with skipping it. Turn off the option before you press start. At the end of the cycle, crack the dishwasher door open so that the moist air escapes and dishes can air-dry. If your dishwasher isn’t great at drying, check out these ways to improve drying.
How to Wash Your Dishwasher
Want to keep your household appliances in tiptop shape? On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports expert Sara Morrow explains the most important thing you can do to keep these machines working properly.