Challenge #49: Full load only

Do not start your washing machine or dishwasher unless it’s completely full.

Full load only

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”

–Ryunosuke Satoro

Hey, folks!

It’s very difficult to imagine our lives without machines such as washing machines and dishwashers. They make our every day much easier. Moreover, newer models tend to be reasonably eco-friendly and as such use way less water than we’d washing our clothes or doing the dishes by hand. However, many of us still use older models, which are way less economical.

We can make quite a difference just by making sure not to start our washing machines or dishwashers until the load is full. That way we can save substantial amounts of water and electricity.

Moreover, there are other things to consider when it comes to using a dishwasher or a washing machine that can make a difference in the impact we have on the environment. We’ll take a look at those factors in one of the following paragraphs, but first, let’s take a glance at some numbers.

“No water, no life. No blue, no green.”

–Sylvia Earle

Dishwasher and washing machine water consumption

Older models of dishwashers use somewhere between 37 to 57 liters (10 – 15 gallons) of water per single load. For an average family, that starts their dishwasher every day this can add up to 20805 liters per household per year.

full load only

On the other hand, new, energy star dishwashers use less than 21 liters (5.5 gallons) of water per load.

Compared to dishwashers, washing machines consume way more water. Older models can use even up to 170 L (45 gallons) of water per load. According to statistics, on average a family of four generates over 300 loads per year, which adds up to more than 50,000 L (13,500 gallons) of water per household per year.

At the same time, new, high-efficiency washers (HEW) use way less. An average HEW uses somewhere between 53 – 94.6 L (14 – 25 gallons) of water.

Dishwasher and washing machine energy consumption

It is the exact opposite when it comes to the electricity consumption; dishwashers consume more. An average dishwasher uses 1800 watts (from 1200 – buy high efficiency machines2400 W), which means an average US household uses over 657 kW of electricity per year on doing the dishes alone. (That’s $65.7 if you pay $0.10/kWh.)

Older washing machines can use up to 1300 watt. Assuming it runs for an hour a day that adds up to 474.5 kWh per year. (That’s $47.45 if you pay $0.10/kWh.)

Let’s take a look at the water and electricity consumption on a bigger scale. There are over 125 million households in the US alone, which means the US alone could save a minimum of 2.625 billion liters of water and 225 million kWh of electricity if each household would perform one load of dishes less. And a minimum of 6.625 billion liters of water and 62.5 kWh per a single load of clothes less. That is assuming each household uses energy star dishwasher and HE washing machines.

Other things to consider when doing the dishes or laundry

It is important to use eco-friendly detergent – we don’t want to be poisoning our nature and ourselves. The water from our laundry machines and dishwashers ends up in the groundwater and we can end up consuming it ourselves.

Also, avoid rinsing the dishes before putting them in your dishwasher. Rinsing dirty dishes under running water can cause us to waste about 20 gallons of water per single load and additional energy if we use hot water. Use a fork or other silverware to pre-clean the dishes if you’re using an older dishwasher that has difficulties removing food residues and stains.

Try limiting to washing your clothes in cold or warm water, avoid using hot water settings. You can save a huge amount of energy just by replacing 90 °C loads with 30 °C ones.

“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.”

–Stewart Udall

Take-home points:
  • Use eco-friendly laundry detergents and dishwasher detergents.
  • Use eco programs if your machines have one.
  • Unless you have allergies, avoid washing your clothes in hot water. Use set it to 30°C.
  • Always run full loads, even if the washer has an adjustable load setting – those are less efficient.
  • Run full loads of dishes only.
  • If you can afford it, replace your old dishwasher with a new high-efficiency one.
  • If you can afford it, replace your old washing machine with a new high-efficiency washer.

Have a lovely week and make sure not to start your washing machine or dishwasher unless completely full.

With love and care,

Good Earthlings

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