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New dishwashers are quiet, efficient

Dear Jim: My old dishwasher is noisy and does not always clean the dishes well. I also
assume new models are more energy and water efficient. What are the most important features to consider in a new one? Jeanelle B.

Dear Jeanelle: Your assumption is correct. New dishwashers are more energy efficient than older ones and some are extremely efficient. They are also quieter and do a better cleaning job using much less hot water.

The key design features to consider for energy efficiency are the same ones for water efficiency. Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for heating up the wash water. Using less hot water requires less energy.

Some full-size models use only five to six gallons for an average load and about 350 kilowatt-hours per year of electricity for a family of four.

The easiest way to compare the energy efficiency of dishwashers is to compare the specifications in their brochures or the energy labels on the appliances themselves.

Keep in mind, these are typical averages and the actual operating costs vary depending upon your local utility rates and usage habits.

In general though, dishwashers that use a two-pump design are most efficient. One small high-pressure pump sprays the water on the dishes. Another high-volume pump drains the unit.

A one-pump model reverses the direction of the pump to switch from wash to drain cycles. Two smaller pumps require a smaller water reservoir than one larger pump so less water is required.

The quietest models are also the most efficient. The same high levels of insulation that block the sound also keep the water hotter.

Built-in water heating elements are efficient because this allows you to set your standard water heater temperature lower. Some of the built-in water heaters have an optional very high-temperature sanitizing cycle for baby bottles.

Many of the most efficient and convenient improvements have been with the controls. The best controls are menu-driven similar to a personal computer.

These allow you to select the types of foods on the dishes and the types of dishes. With these selections, the electronic brain in the dishwasher can determine the most efficient and best cleaning cycle to use.

In addition to these selections, many new dishwashers have water turbidity sensors. There are several equally effective technologies, but they all basically sense the clarity of the water. When the water is clear, it means the dishes are clean (no more food particles are coming off) and it stops.

From a styling standpoint, you have three basic options. A prefinished front — painted or stainless steel — is most common. Trim, which matches your cabinets, is added to create an integrated front, but the control panel still shows. A fully integrated model also hides the control panel.

The following companies offer efficient dishwashers: Asko, (800) 898-1879,; Bosch Appliances, (800) 921-9622,; Dacor, (800) 793-0093,; Kitchen-aid, (800) 422-1230,; and Miele Appliances, (800) 843-7231,

Dear Jim: Our church has baseboard electric heat in a small separate building and we use it only on Sundays and Wednesdays. Should we set back the thermostat to 62 degrees or much lower when not in use? Phil H.

Dear Phil: Some people think you should not set the thermostat too low because it just uses more energy to reheat the room later. This is not true. The lower you can tolerate setting the thermostat, the more you will save.

You should be able to set the temperature much lower without causing any problems to the materials in the building. A temperature setting from 50 to 55 degrees would be reasonable when the building is not being used.

Send inquiries to James Dulley, The Decatur Daily, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit

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