Compared with hand washing dishes, a new ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher can cut your utility bills by more than $40 per year. A new ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher actually uses less than half as much energy as washing dishes by hand and will save, on average, 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime. Also, if you’re using a dishwasher built before 1994, you should be aware that it wastes more than 10 gallons of water per cycle.

Just wipe caked-on food off dishes with a damp sponge or scrape the residue off without turning on the faucet and rinsing each dish before you load it. Newer models have more efficient designs and filtration systems to handle any lingering traces of food. Wait until your dishwasher is fully loaded before turning it on and choose the eco-cycle if your dishwasher has one. Better yet, check your machine’s user guide to select the best water and energy saving cycle.

Because they use less energy, ENERGY STAR certified products reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases caused by burning fossil fuels. By reducing water consumption, they also help protect our lakes, streams and oceans.