Green but Clean (dishwashers)
October 19, 2007 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Our dishwasher died and it's probably going to cost about $150 to repair. It's 10 years old so we are going to replace it. Are there any models out there that are particularly environmentally friendly that don't cost an arm & leg and do a good job? I'll probably spend around $300-$400. I want to use the least amount of water and electricity to run it, but I want clean dishes, too.
posted by GernBlandston to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
According to Consumer Reports, the top rated machine for cleanliness and least energy use in your price range was a Frigidaire GLD2445RF[S], with an overall score of 62 at $400. It was only rated good at cleaning, though very good at low energy use. However, for about $180 more, the Kenmore (Sears) 1373[2] was rated excellent at cleaning, very good at low energy use, and scored 79 over all. For comparison, the best score was an 81 and that machine cost $1600. These ratings are pretty recent, July of 2007. Prices are the ones listed in the report.
posted by procrastination at 8:25 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have a Bosch. I bought it this year to replace a Whirlpool that was nine years old and had a digital keypad that was on the fritz.

The Bosch is awesome. Angels sing when I open it. It cleans like a dream; there is not an oatmeal speck to speak of. It's quiet. So, so quiet. It hardly uses any water.

Look for open box specials and sales. I think I paid around 520. Any new model dishwasher is going to be more efficient than yours that is 10 years old. Dishwashers made today use less energy.

Dishwasher article you might find helpful.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:29 AM on October 19, 2007


I think that just about all appliances have made pretty large gains in 10 years as regards eco-friendliness. As far as reviews, I've had great luck with Consumer Reports.*

* The last dishwasher I bought was from one of the large deep-discount chains - Brandsmart or somesuch - and even though it was a no-name brand, it was much quieter and seemed more efficient than the old Whirlpool that was in there.
posted by jquinby at 8:33 AM on October 19, 2007


Notwithstanding better water efficiency in the newer models, the greenest thing you could do might be to fix the old one and keep it out of the landfill.
posted by maniabug at 8:38 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


maniabug: I was planning to Freecycle [1] the old one so that someone more mechanically inclined can fix and use it.

[1] http://www.freecycle.com/
posted by GernBlandston at 8:50 AM on October 19, 2007


Oops. Make that http://www.freecycle.org
posted by GernBlandston at 8:51 AM on October 19, 2007


I have a Bosch and I hate their racks, especially the upper ones. Bring a box of your cups etc. to the store to make sure they will fit nicely. Also, it isn't as quiet as advertised, although it is pretty quiet. My impression is that the GEs and Whirlpools are just about as good for half the money.

Notwithstanding better water efficiency in the newer models, the greenest thing you could do might be to fix the old one and keep it out of the landfill. I don't think that is true as much of the steel could be recycled and in any event steel is not a bad thing in a landfill, as opposed to polymers which might never break down. The amount of energy and water saved by a newer model can be quite substantial. That being said, most appliance repairs are well within the skill level of the average person.
posted by caddis at 9:12 AM on October 19, 2007


Operationally (leaving aside the manufacture, shipping, and installation for a minute), unless there is a real water shortage in your region, the only environmental impact to worry about is the heating. No environmental features, aside from the truly exotic/expensive (incoming water heat exchanger?), can come close to just leaving the heating elements off on any model.

It is also important that the dishwasher be the right size for your needs. Too full and it won't clean, too empty and you are waisting water/electricity.

You should seriously consider fixing the old one, if it is in good condition. You'll be employing a skilled worker running a small business in your neighborhood instead of sales reps at chain stores and sweat shop workers thousands of miles away. It also has a lower environmental impact.
posted by Chuckles at 9:14 AM on October 19, 2007


And I guess it is probably worth clarifying.. Using less water means less water to heat, and less heat washed down the drain when the cycle changes. That's why they can claim reduced energy use on newer models.. If you don't use the heating element, it doesn't make any difference.
posted by Chuckles at 9:19 AM on October 19, 2007


Energy AND water are both environmental impacts that you must consider.

As stated upthread, any newer model is going to be able to heat the water more efficiently. Saving energy where you can is a worthwhile goal. Depending on how you use the dishwasher, your results may be slightly different than stated on the energy use guidelines.

And, water is a BIG issue. If not right now in you area, I guarantee you that it is a problem elsewhere. And, the water you use may be the water someone else does not have available for use. Water may be the next resource crisis, in my opinion.

So, recycle that old washer and find one that fits your needs without being exotic. It's great that you're considering the environmental impact.
posted by mightshould at 9:48 AM on October 19, 2007


Sometimes your electricity provider will offer a discount if you meet certain requirements when upgrading to more efficient appliances. You might want to give them a call.

Of course, this varies on a state-by-state (or even city-by-city), so YMMV.
posted by Pants! at 9:56 AM on October 19, 2007


@Chuckles: Water use is an issue, not only because we don't have an infinite supply of clean water, but also because dishwashers use hot water. So the more water the dishwasher uses, the more electricity/gas it uses. The heating element is used on the dry cycle (but it is more environmentally sound to use the air-dry) and in some models to heat the water up a little hotter.

You are going to save a lot of energy using a more efficient, recent model and I'd recommend it solely on that basis. Additionally, dishwashers don't last forever: chances are good that something else will go wrong in the net few years as well.
posted by ssg at 10:07 AM on October 19, 2007


I just bought the top-rated Frigidaire that procrastination mentions. Zero problems with cleaning. I have managed to do laundry and take a bath with the thing running, on a pretty average hot water supply. It runs very quietly, too.

You should seriously consider fixing the old one, if it is in good condition. You'll be employing a skilled worker running a small business in your neighborhood instead of sales reps at chain stores...

Pfft. The old one it replaced would've used way more energy and hot water. And we bought ours from a wee local appliance shop -- let's call it "Zooberbueller's" -- that's also a butcher shop (!); they gave us two free t-bones, and sent Randy Zooberbueller himself over to install it. So there! Er, what I mean is, I'll get things repaired when they're well-made in the first place. I think an expired ten-year-old dishwasher has come to the end of its intended life.
posted by kmennie at 10:27 AM on October 19, 2007


any newer model is going to be able to heat the water more efficiently

It is an electric heating element, its efficiency can not be improved (hydro company improvements in distribution system aside). You can reduce the amount of water used, as we've been over; it might be possible to improve the insulation a little (I doubt it); You could add a heat exchanger (if you know of a model that does that, please link to it), or you could use a gas water heater, but electric heat is already as efficient as it can be.

Water may be the next resource crisis, in my opinion.

Water is a resource crisis now for millions of people (i.e. Israel/Palestine, and many more). And I agree that it is stupid and selfish to be needlessly wasteful. However, the "children are starving in Africa, so finish your dinner" argument is...

Well anyway.. If the asker doesn't have a low flow toilet yet, and is worried about water use, that would be a much better way to spend $250 (cost of new dishwasher - cost of repair). Just make sure the model passes testing; the City of Toronto has a good list.


ssg, Please don't talk "@" people :)
posted by Chuckles at 12:34 PM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


If you want to save $100 or more, buy the middle or lowest model in the line for the dishwasher you decide on. Internally they are all the same except the more expensive models will have a bunch of extra buttons on the front (special cycles, timers, etc) that seem like a good idea at the time but you will never use. Those extra buttons cost almost nothing but create huge profit margins for the manufacturer.
posted by JackFlash at 2:47 PM on October 19, 2007


It is an electric heating element, its efficiency can not be improved

This is entirely true, but doesn't have much to do with the energy cost of running a dishwasher, which is mostly the hot water that it uses. Dishwashers use hot water to wash and rinse your dishes and this hot water comes from your hot water tank. The less water the dishwasher uses, the less water your hot water tank needs to heat up. Reductions in the amount of water needed are why a 1997 dishwasher uses, on average 649Kwh per year and a 2004 Energy Star qualified dishwasher uses 422Kwh per year (from Energuide).
posted by ssg at 7:38 PM on October 19, 2007


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