Dishwashers made since 1994 have reduced hot water use by about 30 percent, to only seven to 10 gallons per load. In fact, replacing a 10-year old dishwasher with an EnergyStar-qualified model can save you more than $30 a year in energy costs!
The most important feature to look for in a new dishwasher is a booster water heater. Models with these built-in heaters bring the water temperature to the 140-160 degrees recommended by manufacturers. This allows you to keep your primary water heater at an energy-saving 120 degrees and still get your dishes sparkling clean.
Another new technology available from many brands is "smart sensors" that detect the amount of food left on the dishes. The sensors automatically program the dishwasher to run the most appropriate cycle, eliminating the need for pre-rinsing. This can save most users another gallon or two of water per load.
Other available new features include:
If you have a tiny kitchen, or if you have a wet bar, butler's pantry or even an RV, take a look at the new countertop dishwashers available. These units plug into a standard outlet and hook up to a standard faucet. Most styles are about two feet wide and two feet high, and can hold two or three place settings or up to 24 glasses.
For an upscale kitchen, the new dish drawers might fit in nicely. Instead of one large door that opens from the top, dish drawers slide in and out just like a standard drawer - and they're energy-efficient. You can choose from one or two drawers; each drawer will hold about 30 percent more than a standard dishwasher rack. If you choose two drawers, you can run one at a time or both simultaneously.
Looking for an energy-smart appliance retailer? Try Alliant Energy's online Dealer Locator to find experts in your area.
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