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How Energy Efficient are Modern Dishwashers?

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How Energy Efficient are
Modern Dishwashers?
Authors
David E. Hoak, Danny S. Parker and Andreas H. Hermelink
Original Publication
Hoak, D., Parker, D., Hermelink, A., "How Energy Efficient are Modern Dishwashers",
Proceedings of ACEEE 2008 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, American
Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Washington, DC, August 2008.
Publication Number
FSEC-CR-1772-08
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the Florida Solar Energy Center/University of Central Florida or any agency thereof.
How Energy Efficient are Modern Dishwashers?
David E. Hoak, Danny S. Parker, and Andreas H. Hermelink, Florida Solar Energy Center
ABSTRACT
We present measurements of three recent vintage dishwashers of very different
efficiencies showing that while they are substantially more efficient than older dishwashers,
those tested will still use electric resistance elements for supplemental heat, even when supplied
by solar water heating systems producing very hot water. We did find the DOE test results
provide a reasonable guide to comparative performance, but suggest improvements that will
make them more representative. We also identify a variety of influences on efficiency and
performance to reduce dishwasher energy use.
Dishwasher Technology: A Short History
Dishwashers clean, rinse and dry dirty dishes–an activity previously accomplished by
hand. Once loaded, a dishwasher performs an automated sequence of operations, filling with
water, then providing supplemental electric heating to the desired temperature. Dishes are then
sprayed with hot water and detergent, alternately draining and refilling with rinse water. After
the final rinse, dishes are either passively air dried or with an electric resistance element.
Although Josephine Cochrane invented the first mechanical dishwasher in 1886, the first
mass marketed electric dishwasher did not find its way into American homes until the 1950s.
Since that time, the popularity of dishwashers has steadily grown. In 1980 the saturation of the
appliance was 37%; in 1990 it had grown to 45% and then 52% by 2000 (RECS, 2001). The
saturation of dishwashers in American homes is now approximately 60-65%. Although the
dishwasher sold in 1980 had many common features with modern ones, since the 2003 energy
standards, dishwasher controls have greatly changed. Moreover, the energy efficiency and
reduction in water use of dishwashers has increased significantly.
Many newer dishwashers feature computer-controlled wash cycles that adjust the wash
duration for the quantity of dirty dishes or the extent to which the rinse water is soiled as
determined by chemical or optical sensors. This can save water and energy if the user runs a
partial or lightly soiled load. Even though energy will be saved by not pre-rinsing dishes,
consumer research indicates that at least 50% of households still rinse before loading – likely due
to past experiences with poorly cleaned loads (A. D. Little, 2001).
Improvements to Dishwasher Energy Efficiency
The minimum Federal energy standard for dishwashers established by the U.S. DOE
2003 rule making specifies an Energy Factor, or EF of at least 0.46 cycles/kWh for standard-size
dishwashers for the “normal” cycle. Thus, a minimally compliant dishwasher would use 2.17
kWh per load of dishes. For estimating the labeled annual energy use of dishwashers, it is
assumed that the typical household has 215 dishwasher loads each year so that the minimum
compliant dishwasher would use 467 kWh/year, not including standby losses for control
electronics which are often about 2 watts (~17 kWh/yr). However, modern dishwashers vary
substantially in their energy use. Energy Star dishwashers have an EF of 0.65 or higher so that
they would use 30% less energy than a standard model. Currently, the most efficient dishwashers
of a standard size sold are Bosch Integra units (such as the SHX98M09) with an EF of 1.14
indicating they use about 0.88 kWh/cycle or 190 kWh/year.
Figure 1 shows the estimated energy use of 453 dishwashers available in 2008 and how
they vary relative to the unit EF, the estimated energy use per cycle and the consumption over
the year (CEC, 2008). We also plot the minimum qualifying EF for the Energy Star designation
on the graphic against unit EF. There are several important facets of the DOE test procedure that
must be understood relative to observed impacts on household energy use. First, the per cycle
energy use is estimated as the machine energy use, the water heating energy use (internal and
external to the machine) and one half of the dryer system energy use. The latter is important as
the test procedure specifically assumes that the machine dry cycle will be used half of the time.
For instance, it might be common to find a washer which used 0.4 kWh for the machine power
(pumps, motors and controls) for a cycle, 0.9 kWh for internal water heating and 0.2 kWh for
the drying cycle.
Figure 1. Relationship of Dishwasher Energy Use Per Cycle and Per Year Against
Unit Energy Factor (EF for 466 Units Sold in 2008)
Improvements to dishwasher efficiency have advanced since the early 1990s. Not only
will more efficient units use less energy, they will also generally use less water. Internal analysis
by AHAM indicates that there is a general correlation between water and energy on an industry
shipment-weighted basis (AHAM, 2005). For instance, in 1993, the energy per cycle for
dishwashers averaged about 2.6 kWh/cycle along with a hot water use of about 10 gallons (38
liters). By 2004, with new energy standards (DOE, 2003) the numbers had fallen to about 1.8
kWh/cycle with typical water use of about 6 gallons (23 liters).
The energy use of modern dishwashers comprises several separate energy end-uses as
illustrated by the engineering analysis performed by U.S. DOE for its National Impact Analysis
(NIA) (Federal Register, 2007). The smallest portions are the standby losses of the control
electronics–often about 2 Watts or about 17 kWh/year (Castro, 2003). The rest of the
consumption is proportional to dishwasher use.
As shown in Figure 2 below (DOE Min), about 0.49 kWh/cycle per year for a minimally
compliant dishwasher is used for pumps, control solenoids and machine drying. Another 0.39
kWh/cycle is used for resistance heat inside the dishwasher to boost water temperatures to the
140oF (60°C) generally desirable for cleaning operations and for machine drying. The remainder
of the energy use – 1.37 kWh/cycle – is that associated with the external water heater heating the
water up to 120oF (49°C) to supply to the inlet of the dishwasher. As such, although this external
water heating increases the household energy use, it is not energy that is directly part of the
dishwasher’s energy use. It is, however, part of the DOE dishwasher rating procedure which
assumes that the water is being warmed from 70oF (21°C) to 120oF (49°C). The plot below
shows the energy use of the machine itself and internal and external water heating for eight
generic water heater types that span the gamut of currently available efficiency units.
Figure 2. Energy End-Use of Generic Types of Standard Size Dishwashers (DOE
Minimally Compliant, 2003 Energy Star, California Energy Efficiency [CEE] Tier 1, 2005
Energy Star, CEE Tier 2, Two Representative Intermediate Units and Best Available Unit
Source: U.S. DOE, NIA for dishwashers, 2007.
We note that within DOE’s analysis the actual machine energy varies little from the most
efficient to least efficient units. Instead, the water use and internal and external heat needed to
heat the water are where the differences lie.
Electric Resistance Booster Heat
In theory, dishwasher booster heaters potentially improve household water heating
energy efficiency. The booster heater consists of an internal electric resistance element (often
around 900 Watts) which increases the temperature of the water entering the dishwasher to the
120-140oF (49-60°C) recommended for best cleaning with detergent enzymes or the 155oF+
(68°C+) used for dishwasher sanitize cycles. Thus, booster heaters allow the water heater
thermostat temperatures to be set lower with energy savings, because every 10oF (5.6oC) below
140oF (60oC) saves about 3% of storage water heater energy use (EERE, 2007). Since, water
heating energy use in U.S. households averages about 190 Therms (5,567 kWh) of natural gas or
2,550 kWh/year for electric resistance systems (RECS, 2001), this makes dishwasher booster
heaters a desirable feature.1
Today, all modern dishwashers have booster heaters and manufacturers do not allow the
feature to be disabled since the quality of the dishwashing process is compromised. The energy
impact of the resistance heater in dishwashers was first seen in our study in observations in a
low-energy home where the solar water heating system provided 133oF (56°C) water, the
dishwasher still energized a 900 Watt heating element. This occurs because if inlet water
temperatures are not greater than 140oF (60°C), the booster heating is normally activated. Thus,
even with a typical 120oF (49°C) hot water supply at the tank, the dishwasher will always
activate electric resistance heat. This is of concern since even with very low energy homes, solar
water heating cannot avoid the resistance electricity and the solar electric system may not be able
to meet the added 1 kW electric resistance load.
Tests on Three Modern Dishwashers
To learn more about efficiency issues, we instrumented three dishwashers of widely
varying efficiency in detail and performed several tests. The intent of the tests was to see how the
modern dishwashers would respond to high temperature water being provided to the units. The
hope was that we would see power modulate with higher inlet-water temperatures to avoid
booster resistance heating altogether. Each unit was standard size (12 place setting) dishwasher.
The first unit was a lower efficiency unit: a Kenmore 665-1658220 with an EF of 0.49 and a
tested energy consumption of 2.03 kWh/cycle. The second was an Energy Star unit Kitchen
Aid KUDS011 JBT1 with an EF of 0.68 and a tested energy consumption of 1.47 kWh/cycle. The
third unit was the most efficient dishwasher currently manufactured, a Bosch SHX98M09 with an
Energy Factor of 1.14 and rated energy consumption of 0.88 kWh/cycle.
It should be noted that the tests were done with normal operation with no attempt to
mimic the DOE test conditions. Dishes were usually lightly soiled. In most of our tests, we used
the passive air dry option to reduce unit energy consumption. Thus, we expect our measured
energy use to be less than that for the DOE test procedure since it includes half of the resistance
drying energy.
On each of these runs we collected the inlet water temp, the inside basin dishwasher
water temp, the overall dishwasher power, and the resistance element power. Data was collected
with an Onset portable multi-channel logger with a sampling rate every two seconds. To isolate
the impact of water supply temperature on the dishwasher energy use, we used a small 2.5 gallon
(9.5 l) water heater located within 2 foot (0.6 m) of the dishwasher so we could be assured that
line losses were not contributing to the booster heater activation.
Standard Efficiency Kenmore Dishwasher
A series of tests were performed on a standard efficiency Kenmore dishwasher. This
dishwasher is served by a solar water heater which feeds through an instantaneous gas water
heater set to 125oF (52°C). On the day of the first test on 12 December 2007, conditions were
1 This may not be true from a greenhouse gas perspective, however. For instance a standard gas storage water heater
with an EF of 0.59 will produce half as much CO2 for 1 kWh of equivalent heat than will the electric element in a
dishwasher booster heater when primary energy consumption is considered.
sunny and by afternoon when the test began, the water heater was producing 133–135oF 56–
57°C water. Figure 3 shows the test data for this unit operating with the Normal cycle. This
dishwasher uses 6.7 gallons (25.4 liters) in this configuration with three fills and a partial fill as
seen in the plot. Regardless of the draws with water entering at nearly 130oF (54°C), the
resistance elements inside the dishwasher are still powered twice, both for the wash and heat
rinse cycles. Total cycle energy is 0.74 kWh with 0.43 kWh (58%) used for internal resistance
heating. Another test, not shown here, included the machine drying cycle which increased energy
use to 0.94 kWh/cycle. This indicates that avoiding the machine drying cycle will save about 0.2
kWh/cycle.
Figure 3. Kenmore Dishwasher Test Data, Normal Cycle: Solar Water Heating;
(inlet = 130oF)
A second test of the Kenmore dishwasher (Figure 4) examined its performance when cold
water was supplied to the unit. The inlet water temperature was about 80oF (27°C).
Figure 4. Kenmore Dishwasher Test Data, Normal Cycle; (inlet = ~ 80oF (~ 27°C))
With cooler supply water, the dish wash time was increased by 25 minutes from 83 to
108 minutes with total energy increasing from 0.74 kWh (0.43 kWh for resistance heat) to 1.27
kWh (0.86 kWh for heat). For a third evaluation (Figure 5), we again tested the Kenmore
dishwasher with solar hot water being available in mid afternoon in excess of 125oF (52°C).
However, for this test using the Normal dishwash cycle, we added a contact relay so that the
electric resistance heater for the dishwasher could be disabled.
Figure 5. Kenmore Dishwasher Test: Normal Cycle,(No Resistance Element; Solar
Hot Water at 125oF (52°C))
As seen in the plot, the total dish wash time was then very long at 141 minutes (versus 83
minutes with the resistance element). The four dishwasher fills are again seen, with inlet
temperatures of about 122oF (50°C). Even so, the control microprocessor was unable to reach the
desired washing temperature (140oF; 60°C) and thus, increased the cycle times attempting to
compensate for the lower temperature. Total load electric power was reduced at 0.57 kWh vs.
0.74 for the same cycle with the element – a 23% reduction in energy. However, in using this
cycle repeatedly for several dish washing loads, we observed that the cleaning was not
acceptable. Residual films were sometimes left on the dishes–indicative of the problems well
known to the dishwasher design industry of the need to provide water at 120-140oF (49-60°C) to
break up surface residue from oils and fats. We concluded that although disabling the element
can save a modicum of energy, it is not satisfactory with current generation dishwashers even
when solar water heaters are providing 125oF (52°C) water. Moreover, for the “sanitize” wash
cycle to provide dish and kitchenware sanitization in accordance with established standards
water temperatures must exceed 156oF (69oC) (NSF, 2003). Thus, without solar hot water
temperatures greater than 160oF (71°C) clearly impossible due to scald danger internal
dishwasher supplemental heat will always be needed.
A final shown test was performed for the same unit with the SmartWash cycle chosen
with the same 125oF (52°C) water supplied. Moreover, based on recommendations made for the
2003 energy standards, modern units are tested for dish soiling conditions (TIAX, 2002). Here
the soil sensing system is used to alter the cycle length and water heating. A full dish wash load
was used (as for all the other tests) with the dishes moderately soiled from a spaghetti dinner.
Even with the same temperature of supply water and a similar dish load we found the
total dish wash cycle length was reduced from 83 to 65 minutes with also a savings in energy
which dropped from 0.76 kWh to 0.64 kWh. This shows that often with lightly soiled dish loads
that choice of the soil sensing cycle can reduce dishwasher energy use. Two additional tests with
this cycle, while showing variation, also indicated savings over the normal cycle. We believe this
is due to the fact that the standard DOE test procedure assumes dishes that are more soiled than a
typical household will pose to the dishwasher. Table 1 below summarizes the results:
Table 1. Kenmore Dishwasher Test Data Summary
Cycle Inlet Water
oF Total
kWh Resistance Element
kWh Minutes
Normal, Solar 130 0.74 0.43 83
Normal 120 0.76 0.45 90
Normal 80 1.27 0.86 108
Normal/Machine Dry 120 0.94 0.63 14
Normal 140 0.38 0.14 43
Element Disabled, Solar 130 0.57 0.03 141
Sanitize 120 1.58 1.09 108
Gentle Cycle 120 0.42 0.26 48
SmartWash 120 0.64 0.43 65
Pots & Pans 140 1.21 0.80 112
Energy Star Kitchen-Aide Dishwasher
A second series of tests were performed on the Energy Star compliant Kitchen-Aide unit,
all using the normal wash cycle:
A normal run: uses the regular hot water line from electric WH tank with 120oF (49°C) water
(same as the DOE test procedure). Distance from tank to dishwasher: 15 ft (4.6 m).
A run with 140°F (60°C) pre-heated water supplied directly to the dishwasher.
A cold run (approximately 78°F (25.6°C)) inlet water from the kitchen mains.
All loads were with soiled dishes, and using the normal cycle. As the intent of the tests
was to find the most efficient cycles, all had air dry enabled. The recorded time for each test run
is from the cycle start until the final cycle ends and the dishwasher drain pump turned off. The
time does not include any resistance drying as was not activated in most of our tests.
Figure 6 below shows the energy use of the Kitchen Aide dishwasher with Normal Cycle
selected and 120oF inlet water provided to the dishwasher. This condition most closely mirrors
the DOE test procedure where 120oF (49°C) water is provided. The lines show the total
dishwasher power and resistance element power in Watts on the left axis and the dishwasher
inlet and internal water temperatures on the right axis. Note how the inlet water temperatures can
be seen at the three observed fill points (*) marked by an asterisk. Even though the water heater
tank temperature is set to 120oF (49°C), the inlet temperature seen 15 meters from the tank at the
dishwasher is no more than 110oF (43°C). Also as the hot water comes in for the first fill, it is
rapidly cooled by the dishes and dishwasher interior to a still lower temperature. Here, booster
heater resistance heat must be used anyway because the inlet water temperature is not sufficient
for the dishwasher operations which prefer about 120-140oF (49-60°C). Thus, even with a typical
120oF (49°C) hot water supply at the tank, the dishwasher will activate electric resistance heat.
Figure 6. Kitchen Aide Dishwasher Test Data, Normal Cycle; (inlet = 120oF (49°C))
Note that the machine power is 0.66 kWh over the course of the 62 minute cycle with the
measured power of the resistance element booster heater making up the lion’s share (0.44 kWh
or 67%) of the total. We do see that energy use is lower than for the standard dishwasher. A
second test of the same unit shown in Figure 7 varies only the inlet water temperature. Would
providing 140oF (60°C) water directly to the dishwasher eliminate its resistance heat? We
accomplished this using an instantaneous water heater just before the dishwasher inlet.
We note from the graph that even with very hot inlet water, resistance heat is still
activated. However, the total dish wash time is shorter at 43 minutes with the much higher
temperature seen at the three fill points. Observe also, that although the water enters at the proper
temperature required for cleaning, the thermal capacity of the dishes and internal surfaces cools
it so additional heating is still needed. Although internal heating is still used for the wash cycle,
no heating is needed for the final rinse which is normally heated. The total dishwasher power for
the cycle is 0.38 kWh of which resistance electricity is only 0.14 kWh or 37%.
Figure 7. Kitchen Aide Dishwasher Test Data, Normal Cycle; (inlet = 140oF)
Within the tests we noted heat was lost in lines reaching the dishwasher such that a water
heater commonly set to 120oF (49°C) will only be providing 110oF (43°C) water at the
dishwasher inlet. Accordingly, we wondered if it would not be reasonable with electric resistance
storage water heaters to simply plumb cold water to the dishwasher. This was done for the same
dishwasher using the same cycle with results shown in Figure 8.
Figure 8. Kitchen Aide Dishwasher Test Data, Normal Cycle; (inlet = ~78oF)
With cold water supplied to the unit, the time to complete the load is nearly doubled (62
minutes vs. 112 minutes) with dishwasher unit energy use increased from 0.66 kWh to 1.24
kWh. Since the dishwasher uses 5.0 gallons of water for its measured load, the increased
consumption is greater than the theoretical increase due to heat required to raise the temperature
of the water during the 27 and 25 minute heating phases for the wash and rinse cycles,
respectively. This means that the thermal insulation of the dishwasher basin and interior
casework and the ambient temperature around it will impact the degree to which supplemental
heat is needed to reach the target cleaning temperatures.
Table 2. Energy Star Dishwasher Test Summary
Cycle Inlet Water
oF Total
kWh Resistance Element
kWh Minutes
Normal 120 0.66 0.44 62
Normal 80 1.27 0.86 108
Normal 140 0.38 0.14 43
Thus, using cold inlet water roughly doubled the dishwasher energy use while supplying
140ºF water (as could be accomplished with a solar water heater at mid day) was able to reduce
energy use by about 40%.
High Efficiency Bosch Dishwasher
The third tested dishwasher was a Bosch SHX98MO9 model which is currently listed as
the most efficient standard sized unit on the market. It has an Energy Factor of 1.14 suggesting
0.88 kWh used for each cycle and an annual estimated energy use of 190 kWh. It features low-
energy pumps and motors, a very high level of cabinet insulation and sophisticated computerized
control. A key aspect of its performance is its very low use of hot water for operation and the
absence of any electrical drying.
As with the other units a portion of the 0.88 kWh is due to the water heat necessary to
external heat up its wash water. For the standard regular wash cycle this was verified with lightly
soiled dishes to be about 2.3 gallons (8.7l). This would mean that 0.28 kWh of the total 0.88
kWh/cycle is due to external water heating – implying about 0.60 kWh consumption for the
dishwasher itself.
The dishwasher was substituted for the original Kenmore standard efficiency model for
comparative testing in the same household. Within the evaluation, we found the dishwasher was
exceedingly quiet in operation and, on a subjective basis, provided superior dishwash quality. A
series of tests were performed similar to those done with the two previous units, but with
additional emphasis to evaluate how dish soiling level would influence results, having been
alerted by engineers on energy performance implications.
Figure 9 below shows the performance under standard conditions that prevail in the
household – a full load of lightly soiled dishes with 120oF hot water being supplied to the
dishwasher. We observed only a single period of resistance element heating of the water. Energy
use was very low, however, at only 0.35 kWh – 54% lower than the previous dishwasher in its
normal cycle.
Figure 9. Bosch Dishwasher Test Data, Regular Cycle (inlet = 125 F)
Several other tests were performed as summarized in Table 3 where results can be
compared to those in Table 1 for the previous unit. Energy consumption was 0.27 kWh when fed
140oF hot water from a household’s solar water heater – 63% lower than the consumption of the
preceding dishwasher in the same test condition (Figure 12).
We also tested the new dishwasher with unheated water; energy use was 0.45 kWh (65%
lower than the previous unit). The sanitize cycle used 49% less energy than before (Figure 10).
Table 3 summarizes the results.
Figure 10: Bosch Dishwasher Test Data, Regular Cycle with Sanitize (inlet = 125oF)
Table 3 High Efficiency Bosch Dishwasher Test Summary
Cycle Inlet Water
oF Total
kWh Resistance Element
kWh Minutes
Regular, Solar 140 0.27 0.25 91
Regular 125 0.35 0.34 81
Regular, Sanitize 125 0.88 0.84 86
Regular, Unheated 80 0.45 0.42 86
Regular, Sanitize Solar 140 0.81 0.76 87
Regular, Heavily Soiled 125 1.22 1.11 117
Super Wash 125 1.11 1.02 96
We noted the energy use of the Bosch dishwasher with its regular cycle was lower than
predicted by the rating, likely due to the level of soiling assumed in the three-soil-level DOE test
procedure. Although no attempt was made to duplicate the ANSI/AHAM DW-1 calibrated dirty
dishes, we did load the dishwasher with an embarrassingly soiled load (replete with un-scraped
food). As shown in Figure 11, we did see increased water (3 gallons or 11 l) and energy use (1.22
kWh). Although such a test is given weight in the DOE test procedure, we felt this unlikely to
reflect typical conditions (or would even be tolerated) in the kitchens of any of the three authors.
Figure 11. Bosch Dishwasher Test Data, Regular Cycle with Heavily Soiled Dishes
(inlet = 125oF)
Summary of Comparative Performance
Generally, we found dishwasher energy consumption to follow the DOE ratings. The
standard efficiency EF 0.49 dishwasher used about 0.76 kWh for a typical dishwash cycle in our
tests, the EF=0.68 Energy Star dishwasher used about 0.66 kWh for the same job (13% lower)
and the 1.14 EF Bosch unit used 0.35 kWh (54% lower). Each dishwasher used less than
suggested by the DOE test procedure, even after accounting for external water heating. Partly,
this is due to the fact that no resistance drying was used in our tests. However, it also seems
influenced by the exaggerated soiling levels used in the DOE test procedures.
How Much Dishwasher Water is Actually Heated by the Water Heater?
In our tests of three dishwashers with short 15-20 ft. (4.6-6.1 m) runs to the water heater,
we still saw temperature drops of 5-15oF (3-8oC) from the water heater to the dishwasher inlet.
We also found typical draws are only about 1.65 gallons (6.25 l) for each fill (3 to 4 fill process
depending on chosen wash cycle). This is similar to other test data showing cycle consumption
from 1.3 to 1.5 gallons (4.9 to 5.7 l) for other typical units (Castro, 2003). Given the small
volume of the fills for the various draws and the length of the time between them leads to the
question of how much of the heat in the water heated by the remote hot water tank actually
reaches the dishwasher? This is a function of draw amount, length of plumbing to dishwasher,
pipe insulation, temperature differences and time between dishwasher fills within a cycle. Many
households where the water heater is plumbed closest to the bathrooms have 30 ft (9 m) or
longer hot water runs from storage to the dishwasher.
For instance, with a 30 foot (~ 9 m) plumbing run, it can be shown that only a portion of
tank-heated water actually reaches the dishwasher. Some of the water drawn per cycle has been
heated by the water heater, only to cool in piping, and then to be reheated by the dishwasher –
inherently inefficient. For instance, there is 2.29 (8.69 l) gallons of water in each 100 foot (9 m)
run of 3/4-inch (1.9 cm) pipe. Thus, in a 30 foot run (~ 9 m), the first 0.7 gallons (2.6 l) of water
each cycle is residual water in the line that has cooled down. This means the mix temperature
will never reach the 140oF (60°C) needed for dishwashing. In large houses where 70 feet (~ 21
m) runs are possible, none of the hot water in each cycle would be directly heated. Also, in
cooling dominated climates, much of the residual heat in the pipes is lost to the interior,
becoming internal gains that must be removed by the cooling system. Figure 12 illustrates these
problems. Here, we show the Bosch dishwasher with solar hot water temperatures plotted
immediately after the water heater and at the inlet to the dishwasher. Note that inlet water
temperatures 15 ft (4.6 m) away are about 15oF (8oC) lower than supply water temperatures
immediately after storage
Figure 12: Bosch Dishwasher Test Data, Regular Cycle (inlet = 140oF from solar
water heating)
One recommendation might be to plumb cold water to the dishwasher if the water heater
is a resistance electric type and users are willing to tolerate the 20-30 minutes longer dishwasher
cycle times. Cold water connection may use the least combined water heater and dishwasher
energy since the dishwasher heats its own water only for the parts of the cycle where hot water is
needed, but the energy (in the form of electricity) generally costs more. However, if one has a
gas or solar hot water system, connecting them to hot will save carbon dioxide emissions and
operating costs, particularly if plumbing runs are short.
Recommendations for the DOE Test Procedure
The DOE test procedure require three separate tests with a full 8 place setting where
varying amounts of the dishes are heavily soiled in a very deliberate fashion according the
ANSI/AHAM standard DW-1 (ANSI, 2005). This varies from 1 to 4 place settings soiled with
differing weights attached to each run. However, based on survey data analyzed by A.D. Little
(2001) for development of the test procedure 70% of consumers pre-treat dishes with water
before loading the dishes into the dishwasher such that these will have very light soiling. A
further 20% scrape food off plates before loading. This would indicate that 90% of the dish wash
loads are light whereas the actual DOE procedure gives the light soiling load only a weight of
62%, perhaps because the industry is trying to discourage the pre-rinsing with water which
dominates consumer behavior. In any case, the DOE predicted energy consumption for
dishwashers is likely often overstated with the soil-sensing models that now dominate the
market. This has implications for the predicted energy use of dishwashers.
Moreover, in its research, Consumer Reports uses a different soiling method than that
used by DOE where all 10 settings are soiled, two with baked-on food as would befit a “worst
case” scenario. Thus, in its recent testing of 47 dishwashers, it found energy use in dishwashers
not to conform to the same ranking as would be obtained from DOE’s procedure (Consumer
Reports, 2008). Not only would our research suggest that careful scrapping of food prior to
loading a dishwasher will save energy, but also that the predicted relative ranking of the energy
use of dishwashers will be influenced by the soil loading prescribed for the tests. While the
Consumer Reports methodology may well evaluate dishwasher cleaning performance under
difficult challenges, we believe the DOE procedure is more representative of likely energy
performance in most households. Further, although our research was a series of case studies, we
identified potential improvements to the accuracy of the DOE test procedure:
Soiling weights: Based on the data developed in support of the test procedure (A.D. Little,
2001), the typical soiling of loaded dishes is lighter than that used in the procedure. This is
important since the energy use of dishwashers in response to light loads is more
representative of realistic performance. A simple way to accomplish this: alter the soiling
weights from the three tests to 80% light, 15% medium and 5% heavy.
Hot Water temperatures: The 120oF (49oC) hot water temperature provided to the dishwasher
in the DOE test is not realistic relative to the way water is delivered from storage water
heaters. Typically the plumbing run is about 15-30 ft (4.6-9.0 m) of uninsulated 3/4" (1.9 cm)
pipe. Since many dishwashers only draw 1-3 gallons (4-11 l) for each fill cycle, much of the
water in the line has cooled close to room temperature. The DOE procedure, on the other
hand, supplies 120oF (49oC) water directly to the dishwasher. Although the energy needed to
raise the water from 70oF (21oC) to 120oF (49oC) is added to calculated dishwasher energy
use, the actual situation is worse, since the water heater must heat this water, but the slug of
water between the water heater and dishwasher loses heat from the piping and then must be
partially re-heated by the dishwasher internally. For better accuracy, it is suggested that a 20
foot (6 m) length of uninsulated 3/4" (1.9 cm) copper pipe in a 70oF (21oC) ambient
environment separate the dishwasher from the hot water supply source at 120oF (49oC) in the
DOE procedure.
Recommended Practices to Reduce Energy Use
Since the COP of solar and heat pump water heaters is much greater than that of the
resistance booster heater element in dishwashers, methods should be employed to reduce the
frequency and duration with which the dishwasher booster heater is activated. The same is true
of gas water heaters which are considerably more efficient relative to cost and greenhouse gas
emissions than the resistance heating element. We offer these suggestions:
Set external water heater to the minimum acceptable hot water temperature (120oF, 49 oC)
Minimize length of plumbing runs from the water heater to the dishwasher and insulate them.
Will washing by hand use more energy than using the dishwasher? Modern dishwashers
use about 3.5-8 gallons (~ 14-30 l) per load. According to AHAM, washing by hand uses
approximately twice as much hot water. Other research indicated 37% less water use in a
dishwasher. One careful study with comparative measurements in Europe concluded that
dishwashers, when fully loaded, use less electricity, water and detergent than even the most
efficient hand-washers (Stamminger, 2003). For very low energy homes with solar water heating
the time length of the resistance heating cycle will be influenced by the hot water feed
temperature such that dishwashers will use least energy if run when stored water is hottest–
around 2-3 PM when storage has reached a high temperature and collectors can easily replace the
water used by the dishwasher.
Avoid pre-rinse. Unnecessary rinsing can waste 10 (38 liters) gallons of water per
dishwasher load. Instead of pre-rinsing, scrape off the excess food well using a rubber spatula or
similar implement, load everything into your dishwasher, and let the machine do the rest.
However, if this habit cannot be broken, select the soil sensing mode to reduce the length of
cleaning cycles or choose the light wash or gentle cycle.
Avoid Electric Resistance Drying Cycle. Selecting the non-resistance heated air drying
option is a big energy saver and with our test units could often eliminate 0.2 kWh/cycle.
Load efficiently and choose best cycles. Wash only full loads following manufacturer’s
directions. Also, when possible avoid sanitized or enhanced wash cycles (e.g., “super wash”,
“pots and pans”, etc.) that will increase water and energy use.
Acknowledgment
Our special appreciation to Brent DeWeerd with the Whirlpool Corporation and Mike
Edwards with the BSH Home Appliances Corporation for great assistance in helping the authors
to understand the processes involved in the dishwashers tested. Danyel Tiefenbacher with BSH
kindly donated one of their low energy dishwashers for evaluation in our project. This work is
sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy, Building Technologies Program. We appreciate the support of our program
managers, George James, Ed Pollock and William Haslebacher. However, this support does not
constitute DOE endorsement of the views expressed in this paper.
References
A.D. Little, 2001. Review of Survey Data to Support Revisions to DOE's Dishwasher Test
Procedure, A.D. Little, Cambridge, MA., prepared for U.S. Department of Energy,
December 18, 2001.
AHAM, 2005. “Letter David Calabrese to Richard Karney, U.S. DOE,” Association of Home
Appliance Manufacturers, Washington D.C., 18 August 2005.
ANSI, 2005. ANSI/AHAM-DW-1-2005: Household Electric Dishwashers, American National
Standards Institute, NY, NY.
Castro, Natasha, S., 2003. “A New Federal Test Procedure for Dishwashers,” Appliance
Magazine, November, 2003.
Castro, Natascha S., 1997 "Energy and Water Consumption Testing of a Conventional
Dishwasher and an Adaptive Control Dishwasher," NIST, Proceedings of the International
Appliance Technology Conference, Columbus, OH, May 1997.
CED, 2008. “Appliance Database – Dishwashers,” California Energy Commission,
www.energy.ca.gov/appliances.
Consumer Reports, 2008, "Dishwashers Don't get steamed," Consumer Reports, March 2008.
DOE, 2003. “10 CFR Part 430, Appendix C to Subpart B, Uniform Test Method for Measuring
the Energy Consumption of Dishwashers,” Federal Register, Washington D.C., 2003.
DOE, 2008. “Lower Water Heater Temperature for Energy Savings,” A Consumer’s Guide to
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. DOE,
www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating.
Federal Register, 2007. Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for
Certain Consumer Products (Dishwashers, Dehumidifiers, Electric and Gas Kitchen Ranges
and Ovens, and Microwave Ovens) Federal Register: November 15, 2007 (Volume 72,
Number 220.
NSF International, 2003. "Residential Dishwashers," NSF/ANSI 184, American National
Standards Institute, ANSI, Ann Arbor, MI, March 2003.
Residential Energy Consumption Survey, 2001. “Appliances in U.S. Households, Selected Year,
1980-2001,” EIA, U.S. DOE, http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/reps/appli/us_table.html
Stamminger, R., Badura, R., Broil, G., Dörr, S. and Elschenbroich, A.2003.,“A European
Comparison of Washing Dishes by Hand,” University of Bonn, Proceedings of the
International Conference on Energy Efficiency in Domestic Appliances and Lighting
(EEDAL), Turin, Italy, 2003.
TIAX, Inc., 2002. Review of Survey Data to Support Revisions to DOE's Dishwasher Test
Procedure and Addendum, Report to U.S. DOE, TIAX, Cambridge, MA.
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Energy and Water Consumption Testing of a Conventional Dishwasher and an Adaptive Control Dishwasher
  • Natascha S Castro
Castro, Natascha S., 1997 "Energy and Water Consumption Testing of a Conventional Dishwasher and an Adaptive Control Dishwasher," NIST, Proceedings of the International Appliance Technology Conference, Columbus, OH, May 1997.
Review of Survey Data to Support Revisions to DOE's Dishwasher Test Procedure
  • A D Little
A.D. Little, 2001. Review of Survey Data to Support Revisions to DOE's Dishwasher Test Procedure, A.D. Little, Cambridge, MA., prepared for U.S. Department of Energy, December 18, 2001.
Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers
  • David Calabrese
  • Richard Karney
  • U S Doe
AHAM, 2005. "Letter David Calabrese to Richard Karney, U.S. DOE," Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, Washington D.C., 18 August 2005.
ANSI/AHAM-DW-1-2005: Household Electric Dishwashers, American National Standards Institute
ANSI, 2005. ANSI/AHAM-DW-1-2005: Household Electric Dishwashers, American National Standards Institute, NY, NY.
Appliance Database -Dishwashers
  • Ced
CED, 2008. "Appliance Database -Dishwashers," California Energy Commission, www.energy.ca.gov/appliances.
Dishwashers Don't get steamed
Consumer Reports, 2008, "Dishwashers Don't get steamed," Consumer Reports, March 2008.
10 CFR Part 430, Appendix C to Subpart B, Uniform Test Method for Measuring the Energy Consumption of Dishwashers
  • Doe
DOE, 2003. “10 CFR Part 430, Appendix C to Subpart B, Uniform Test Method for Measuring the Energy Consumption of Dishwashers,” Federal Register, Washington D.C., 2003
A Consumer's Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  • Doe
DOE, 2008. "Lower Water Heater Temperature for Energy Savings," A Consumer's Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. DOE, www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating.
Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Certain Consumer Products (Dishwashers, Dehumidifiers, Electric and Gas Kitchen Ranges and Ovens, and Microwave Ovens) Federal Register
Federal Register, 2007. Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Certain Consumer Products (Dishwashers, Dehumidifiers, Electric and Gas Kitchen Ranges and Ovens, and Microwave Ovens) Federal Register: November 15, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 220.