Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Energy efficient appliance recommendations

I was going over our electricity usage for the last year to do some analysis since I'm always trying to see if solar panels are in our future - they are not (more about that some other time). One thing that came out of this exercise was in thinking about ways to further reduce how much electricity we use.

Since our electricity rates are so cheap in Washington State, it's easy to ignore how many KWH we use each month. But if we want to replace those same KWH with solar, it's not so pretty. In fact, it's almost laughable. We have, over the winter months, relied on space heaters instead of our oil furnace, mostly because it's cheaper. But, there again, this increases our electricity usage.

There are two appliances that we can replace that are not at all energy efficient - our dishwasher and our hot water heater. (No, Greenpa, we're not going to address the fridge in this post.)

Of course, only running a full load of dishes and opting for air dry reduces our energy load, but I'm sure we could do better with an actual energy efficient model. And, the one we have sounds like it's about to die. When we moved in 5 years ago, the previous owners had installed a new dishwasher, but it was a cheapo thing and it's never been good at actually washing dishes.

Our hot water heater has been on its last legs for a long time. Plus, I'm afraid to admit that we don't have a hot water binky for it either. Since we were always planning on replacing the water heater, we never got around to the binky. I've looked into on-demand hot water heaters and they aren't very efficient if you electricity (versus natural gas) and our energy consultant at work was telling me the other day that it's coming out that the on-demand water heaters are more efficient if you have a lot of people in the house and are constantly running hot water. Otherwise, the numbers coming in show that on-demand water heaters are less energy efficient that ye olde water heaters.

So, my question for you good people out there... do you have any recommendations for super energy efficient dishwashers? What about hot water heaters? Anyone have a heat pump hot water heater? And, no, I'm not interested in the $8,000 price tag to get solar hot water, thankyouverymuch.

Image shown is a Rheem Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater from WA Energy Services


Michelle said...

We bought a Kenmore Elite dishwasher two years ago and love it. I can't remember the exact numbers, but it was rated very high in energy efficiency by Consumer Reports. I love the fact that it cleans all the food of the dishes so I don't have to rinse them first.

It has different cycles so you can choose the one that works for the load. I don't know if your electricity rates are lower at night, but if so, you can use the delay button to start it at 2am.

It's very quiet. We replaced a 12 year old dishwasher so at first we thought the new one wasn't working because it was so quiet!

We also replaced our hot water heater at the same time two years ago (we must be on the same appliance cycle!). We looked into the tankless ones but went with a regular one for the reasons you mention.

Good luck!

Robj98168 said...

When I bought my dishwasher, I was at Circuit City before they quit selling Appliances and before they went out of business- Luckily I was able to get an "energy Star" Model that was on display. And sorry Greenpa- I bought an Energy star Reefer at Albert Lea Appliances that was "Scratch and Dent" save a couple of hunnert dollars there!

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

We just bought a Kitchen Aid dishwasher. LG was the most energy efficient but twice the price tag. I love my dishwasher. Super quiet and gets the job done.

koolchicken said...

I can't say about dishwashers cause I hardly ever use mine but I know a little about water heaters. I have an instant hot water heater and I hate it. It's super expensive to run, this past month we spent about $320 on our electric bill (to sit in the dark with no a/c). When I buy a house I plan to get a tankless water heater. They're very popular where I live and they save a lot of money. A friend of mine has one and said it was the best investment she made in her house.

K said...

You state that the on-demand WHs are less efficient with fewer people in the house? To me, that's counter-intuitive.

If there is one person living in the house, with one shower a day, hot water for dishes once a day (or less), etc., then a regular WH is heating water that is just sitting for the majority of the time. The more people living in the house, the more hot water is used, so there is less "storage" time using a regular WH, and I thought it was the "stoarge" time that made regular WH less efficient.

Not saying I'm right, but I'd like to know more about this, since I'm in the process of renovating, and planning on switching to an on-demand WH.

Anonymous said...

Excuse for that I interfere ?At me a similar situation. It is possible to discuss.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

Yes, could you please discuss more about the waterheaters? What is a binky? Plus, I always thought the on-demand ones were much more efficient too. (My parents and sisters have them and they swear by them.) They use propane, however, and they are tankless. I'm guessing from what you are saying is that not all on-demand WHs are also tankless. Is that right?

Tree Huggin Momma said...

Since I have an on demand (gas powered) let me explain as it was explained to me. While a traditional water heater heats water that sits and is reheated many times without being used, it is considered inefficient (although a binky or insulation around the tank will help with this) an on demand water heater uses more energy to "instantly" heat water than the traditional water heater does to heat and reheat that same water 2x (especially if its electric). That being said our energy bills are far less with our on demand water heater than with our old water heater (which was almost gas). In the summer months, we have a negligable gas bill, in the winter its much higher (because we also heat with gas).
I would love a solar water heater myself, but that is not a possibility (logistically) where I live. Nor is a gray water flush system :(

indoorkitty said...

Bosch diswasher. I'd marry it if that were legal in this state. (My husband is already married to the computer.) Super quiet, energy star, has a setting called "powerscrub" that I have nicknamed autoclave because it will take cooked on grease off of pyrex. I usually go with "quick wash:" only takes 30 minutes, does require some pre-rinsing/wiping of sticky things like cream cheese or peanut butter. There's no heated dryer and the hot water booster is deep inside the machine so plastic can be washed on the lower rack without melting. It has a filter in it that is easily removed for washing. I soak mine in a jar of oxygen bleach once a month, just to knock back the slimeys. There is a small chamber under the filter where water collects. That can get funky on the rare occasions of dishwasher dormancy. A shot of vinegar clears that right up. As you can tell, I'm head over heels.

K said...

@ Tree Huggin Momma

Thanks for the info, but I'm even more confused. Basically, you are saying liter for liter, a conventional WH is more efficient than an on-demand system (I think that's what you're saying) and it's the "sitting around staying hot" time that makes the conventional less efficient - all of which makes sense to me.

However, that leads me to think even more that an on-demand is *more* efficient for smaller households, since the more water you heat with it (large households = more water), the more inefficient it would be compared to a conventional.

I'm probably not explaining this well, but I still don't see how an on-demand is less efficient for smaller households :)

sue said...

I love love love our Bosch. The Quick wash is fantastic, and our appliance salesman recommended that we use only half the detergent that detergent boxes recommend. Really, what more can you ask for?

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

The only energy efficient appliance that came with my house is my GE HE dishwasher. I hate it and my neighbors hate theirs too. It uses less water and electricity to wash the dishes but the only way it gets the dishes clean is to 1. prerinse them or 2. jack the hot water heater way past 130 degrees. As my husband pointed out, it means we get to save on water or natural gas for the hot water heater. Not both.

Tristin said...

My energy efficient dishwasher is my kitchen sink. The dishes always come out clean, very little water is used, and the only electricity used is what it takes to heat the water.
When my daughter was 2 we went to someone's house. On entering their kitchen she exclaimed "look mom they have a dishwasher too!" pointing at the kitchen sink.

Oldnovice said...

We have an energy star Frigidaire. It works well enough. I've been using it with soap nuts and lemon juice lately and it gets everything pretty clean. We need to turn on the hot water before we use it to get it to temperature and it does NOT disinfect (per the installer).

Problem we have around here is that my husband enjoys washing dishes by hand and dishwashers are like body parts ... use them or lose them.

Nicole said...

We have a fairly new rinnai tankless hot water heater that runs on propane. It replaced an electric tank heater. It definitely is much more efficient and we love it. The cost was about $2000 professionally installed and it qualifies for a tax rebate. For what it's worth, we are a small (3 person) household.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Our dishwasher is energy efficient, Asko which is a Swedish brand. Anyway, we have one and so do my parents and my in-laws, and all 3 of us agree it SUCKS at getting dishes clean. Re-washing them and super duper rinsing them must make up for any energy saved in the actual wash.

We have an on-demand water heater and I have to say it's annoying to wait for the water to heat up. Every time I need hot water, for a shower, for rinshing dishes (see above paragraph), for filing a pot with water, it takes what feels like forever, so I end up turning it on and walking away to let it run. Again, I'd guess this makes up for it.

My parents have a traditional water tank that is heated with oil in the warm months, and they shut it off during the day when they're not home to save energy. The only problem is that they need to REMEMBER to turn it back on when they want hot water. In the winter, they heat the water with the wood furnace, so it's pretty much the same thing: no fire, no hot water.

When our furnace goes, I'd like to heat our house/water with wood in cold months and build a solar hot water system for the warm months. But our furnace is pretty new so we've got years before that happens!

Health journal said...

There are thousands of stupid things we are using for nothing using electricity all over again. Because we are humans, we don't care. It's horrible. But the question is...Is there any other option?

simplifysimplify said...

For efficient dishwashers I'd look at European ones like bosch. I have an ASKO that is probably very efficient for it's time/age of about 13 years old, but it's loud and doesn't wash all that great. I will get a bosch next. They are almost silent. Anyway Europeans are a little nutso about reduced energy consumption so I trust them to do the best and also have a much longer history of manufacturing to it than we do.

Good news for you, when we upgraded our hot water heater from 1982, in about 2005, we started saving $25/month which was about 1/3 of the electric bill. When they get old apparently they are just cranking out trying ineffectively to get the water hot enough. I also opted against the on-demand for various reasons, but the most convincing was just that the insulation is so good that I was told it's basically the same but could be less energy than the on-demand.

I can't wait until I can afford a new dishwasher and also a new HE washer and I won't skimp this time, I'll get bosch. My kenmore HE is so lame, and washing things twice with extra rinses can't be saving me that much energy or water.

Queen Bee said...

I'm with indoorkitty. We just got a Bosch and love it. I have the Energy Guide here: estimated $25 a year with an electric water heater, $19 a year with natural gas. 259 kWh estimated yearly use. The dishes are spotless, even when we occasionally put them in all crusty and dried out. On some models you can run it on a "half load," "top rack only," or EcoWash setting that reduces energy and water consumption. Somewhere (can't remember now) I read that depending on the cycle you choose it uses between 3 and 5 gallons of water per load -- MUCH lower than the average.

We also used a hot water heater timer and blanket for years that dramatically cut our bills until we switched to a solar water heater right before Christmas.