Save Energy by Letting Your Dishwasher Air Dry

When we moved into our current apartment last spring, I read some energy company pamphlet about ways to save energy in your home. Most of the suggestions were old news to me, but one in particular stuck out: air dry your dishes after running your dishwasher. I’m all about green changes that don’t require me to do a lot more work, so I figured I’d give it a try. I was happy to find that air drying was a huge success! When left to their own devices overnight, my dishes dried even better than the heated drying had worked on our old dishwasher. I’ve been air drying our dishes ever since.

I don’t know how much energy I’m saving by air drying our dishes because I never did any sort of side-by-side comparison. According to this Flex Your Power page, though, using the air drying setting on your dishwasher can reduce your dishwasher’s energy use by 15 to 50%. Just opening the door and letting the dishes air dry on their own consumes no power, so I’d imagine that air drying without the special setting could potentially save even more energy.

How to Air Dry the Dishes in Your Dishwasher

1. First, figure out how long it takes your dishwasher to run. Use that running time to calculate how early you need to start the dishwasher to ensure that it will be finished by the time you want to go to bed.

2. Start dishwasher by the appointed time.

3. Open the dishwasher after it has finished running. Pour out any reservoirs of water that have collected in containers. It’s fine for everything to be wet, of course, but big puddles don’t tend to dry overnight very well.

4. Leave dishwasher open. Go to bed.

5. When you wake up the next morning, all of your dishes should be clean and dry! Feel happy that you saved energy (and money!) without having to actually do much of anything. 🙂

Running Your Dishwasher During the Day?

I recommend running and then opening your dishwasher before you go to bed because the dishes (well, my dishes, at least) seem to require a prolonged period to air dry properly. A couple of hours isn’t usually enough to get things thoroughly dry. Sometimes, though, you just have to run your dishwasher during the day. In these instances, one way to speed air drying is to set up a fan next to the dishwasher. The extra air circulation considerably speeds drying time.

How do you like to dry your dishes? 

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8 Responses to Save Energy by Letting Your Dishwasher Air Dry

  1. Cynthia L. says:

    Good information. My dishwasher seems to run forever and I have always wondered about the energy it is using.

  2. Dianna says:

    Great idea! I also love that it warms up the house a little bit.

  3. 'Becca says:

    We found that our dishes dry better if we pull out the bottom rack but leave the top rack alone until ready to put away the dishes. If you pull out the top rack, water pooled on those dishes spills on the lower ones. We find that most of the dishes will dry in a few hours even if the dishwasher is kept closed. Whatever dishes are still wet when unloaded, we dry with a towel or place in the dish drainer.

    Running the water in your sink until it gets hot, just before starting the dishwasher, can reduce the dishwasher’s energy use. My brother, who is a home energy auditor, explained this in a comment on my dishwasher article.

    On the other hand, depending on your electricity plan, you may be able to reduce the cost of running your dishwasher (the wash and rinse cycles) by running it late at night, either starting it when you go to bed or (if it has a timer like mine does) setting it to start around 2am. Many utility companies charge lower rates in the middle of the night when there’s less demand. Then you can open it in the morning and let the dishes dry while you’re out of the house–but this could be awkward if you’re home all day and wanting to do stuff in the kitchen.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, ‘Becca. I guess every dishwasher is different. I have found that unless I open the dishwasher our dishes pretty much don’t dry at all. (I know because I have accidentally left the dishwasher closed for almost 24 hours when I meant to open it, and nothing was dry when I finally remembered!)

  4. Jennifer says:

    The only issue with running them before you go to bed, is that you are running them when the electricity is most expensive! I do them during the morning so they are ready by the time I start to make dinner or if they have a little left to go, I just wipe them as I am putting them away.

    • Good thing to keep in mind, Jennifer! Different things work for different people. In my case, my kitchen is so small that opening the dishwasher makes it really hard to do anything in my kitchen, so I can’t stand air drying during the day. And I hate hand drying, but that’s just me. 🙂 Thanks for sharing what works for you.

  5. Brookss says:

    My dishwasher isn’t even worth running because it doesn’t clean the dishes! So I use it for a dish RACK! I open the door, close the soap dispensers and lay a towel on the door then I wash my dishes by hand which uses a ton less water and let them dry. If company stops by I just close the door 🙂 At our last house where the dishwasher actually worked we stopped using it and our electricity was about $80 dollars less and the water was too even though they were “energy efficient”!!!

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