Trump Administration Wants to Ditch Energy-Efficient Dishwashers

The Trump Administration announced its intention to roll back yet another climate change efficiency standard — this one for dishwashers as a result of a petition by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a well-known climate skeptic.  The Hill reported that the Energy Department is planning to allow faster-cleaning dishwashers that do not comply with current energy efficiency standards, which will overturn years of progress on making these appliances energy efficient.

Why This Matters:  Many Americans will give thanks on Thursday for their dishwashers. And most do not object to the time it takes for them to operate – they just want clean, safe dishes.  The new rule would exempt new dishwashers from the prior energy efficiency standards — and that is a big number.  For example, this year, there were nearly 9 million dishwashers sold in the U.S.  The new standards would also waive the water efficiency requirements as well.  The proposal would hurt consumers who will spend more on electricity and water for the new machines.  There would be a big difference in savings — the energy-efficient dishwashers of today use roughly half the water and energy of their counterparts of 20 years ago, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The CEI Arguments Rebutted

First, the CEI and DOE argue that the current energy-efficient dishwashers’ quick cycles are designed only for lightly soiled dishes.  Environmental and consumer groups argue that today’s dishwashers have built-in sensors that detect how dirty plates are, ensuring dishwashers take only as long as they need to get your dishes clean.

Second, CEI and DOE argue that it is only energy efficiency that has slowed dishwasher run times.  But the environmental and consumer groups claim that a variety of factors has slowed down the wash cycle, including new types of detergents and consumer preference for quieter dishwashers that spray water at dishes with less pressure.

Should You Wash By Hand?

Don’t stress!  The conventional wisdom according to  is that dishwashers beat hand-washing dishes, hands down, so to speak. By the numbers, according to one study at the University of Bonn in Germany, the dishwasher uses only half the energy, one-sixth of the water, and less soap, to boot.

To Go Deeper:  Check out Treehugger’s detailed analysis, which explains that while “it’s possible to be more efficient when hand-washing, but it’s pretty tough.”

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