The next time you are in the market for a new dishwasher, look for a model with these 3 eco-friendly features.
- Energy Efficiency – model meets or exceeds ≤ 295 kWh estimated yearly electricity use ENERGY STAR requirement.
- Water Efficiency – model meets or exceeds ≤ 4.25 gallons per cycle ENERGY STAR requirement.
- Reliability – manufacturer and model have a reputation for quality and reliability.
If your dishwasher still works, think twice before replacing it, even with a new energy efficient model. Manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of a dishwasher has a significant carbon footprint. Some dishwasher materials like steel, copper wire and aluminum can be recycled but other parts and specialized plastics cannot.
Our Whirlpool Dishwasher Lasted for 23 Years
Our existing Whirlpool model DU8900XT dishwasher was installed when the house was built 23 years ago. At that time a dishwasher used about 10 gallons of water per cycle. As far as energy saving features, the Whirlpool had a low energy wash cycle and air dry option (which we used). The dishwasher worked fine for the 5 ½ years we have lived in the house, until the pump went out. We considered having it repaired but decided to purchase a new energy and water efficient ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher.
New Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Research
We have not purchased a new dishwasher since the 20th century so I decided to do some research. I checked out manufacturer websites, read blogs and ENERGY STAR information, and signed up for a one month Consumer Reports subscription.
Using dishwasher model selection tools and filters was frustrating across the board. The number of models within a manufacturer series was mind-boggling and the differences between them were often minor but could easily add another $50 or $100 to the price.
- Type – built-in vs. portable (makes sense).
- Style and Color – often initial selection filters included choices like recessed vs. bar handle, front vs. hidden controls, and black, beige, white, or stainless steel color. As if appearance is the most important feature of a dishwasher—really.
- Price – dishwashers come in a wide price range from $250 to over $2,000 so a price filter is useful. However, if you select between $450-650 as a filter you might not see the model for $700 that would perfectly fit your requirements.
- Series – why a manufacturer would ask you to select a series is beyond me. How would I know an 800 series from a 300?
- Other – plastic vs. stainless steel tub, number of cycles, rack adjustability, noise level, and ENERGY STAR qualified, to name a few.
Manufacturers and Consumer Reports included customer reviews (good and bad). The same model often received 5 star and 1 star ratings—some people loved it and others hated it.
I was shocked at how many people focused on appearance and noise level as their top considerations, and sadly, how few seemed to care about water or energy efficiency.
There were frequent comments on how effectively various models cleaned or failed to clean dishes (I agree this is important). Many people objected if the cycle time was longer than their old model or if dishes were not absolutely dry at the end of the cycle (both are related to energy efficiency or lack thereof).
Our New Eco-Friendly Dishwasher
We bought an ENERGY STAR qualified Bosch Ascenta Series dishwasher model SHE3ARL6UC for the following reasons:
- Water Efficiency – exceeds ENERGY STAR water requirements by up to 69%.
- Energy Efficiency – at 279 kWh estimated yearly electricity use it exceeds ENERGY STAR ≤ 295 kWh requirement.
- Reliability – Bosch was number 1 on reliability ratings.
- Price – under $600.
- Other factors – fits our dishes (I took a few to the store to test), black exterior, nylon racks for durability, stainless steel tub (we were neutral on that), removable silverware basket and limited adjustability (why pay for features you don’t use), we wanted a reasonably quiet dishwasher and at 50 dBA it is very quiet.
Newer dishwasher models actually clean better when dishes are not pre-rinsed and with less detergent than I was used to so I am learning a new dishwashing routine. Dishes do need to be loaded carefully to ensure water from the spray jets can reach the dirty surfaces. It is fun to put a not scrubbed casserole dish in the dishwasher and pull it out sparkling clean.
- Consumer Reports – Dishwasher Buying Guide
- ENERGY STAR – Dishwashers for Consumers
- ENERGY STAR – Residential Dishwashers Specification
- J.D. Power and Associates – 2012 Kitchen Appliance Satisfaction Study
- Treehugger – Built In Dishwashers vs. Hand Washing: Which is Greener?
- Treehugger – How to Go Green: Dishwashers