Hand washing dishes in a sink. On side is soapy water for washing; the other is clean water for rinsing
Image by Quadell

Save energy and water by not leaving the water running when you wash dishes.

Saving Water & Energy


Water Bills

The water heater is the second biggest energy user in the home. You're charged for the water - and for heating it. An average family can spend about $290 a year just taking showers, and many families spend more.

  • Install a low-flow shower head. They use half the water that regular ones use - and can save $2 a month per family member.
  • Turn the water heater thermostat down to 120°F. That saves energy and prevents scalding.
  • Take short showers. They use about half as much water as a full bathtub.
  • Repair leaky water faucets. One drop a second can waste as much as 25 gallons a week!
  • Buying a new water heater? Get one that is no larger than required for your household needs, and consider a heat pump water heater. These super-efficient electric water heaters cost more up-front, but can save a family of four around $330/yr according to the EPA.

Washing Dishes

If you use a dishwasher:

  • Wash only full loads. It costs exactly the same to wash one dish as a whole load.
  • Air dry dishes. If the dishwasher has an air-dry feature, use it.
  • Hand-rinse dishes in cold water and only if you plan to wait a day or more before washing. Most dishwashers today do a great job of washing dishes without pre-rinsing. So save energy, water and elbow grease - and time.
  • Fill dishwasher with detergent right before running. Dry detergent may harden, while liquid detergent can leak.
  • Fill the dishwasher according to the manufacturer's instructions. This will allow the flow of water to properly clean the dishes.

If you wash by hand:

  • Rinse dishes in groups rather than one at a time.
  • Don't leave the water running.
  • Don't wash a few dishes - wait unit you have a full sink.

Laundry

  • Wash laundry in warm or cold water instead of hot. Hot water needs to be used only for oily stains and very dirty loads.
  • Lower the thermostat from the recommended 140°F to 120°F. Each 10 degree reduction in water temperature will generally save you 3 to 5% on your water heating costs.
  • Wash and dry only full loads. The machine uses about the same amount of water whether you wash a full load or just one item.
  • Clean the dryer lint filter after every load. Clogged filters drive up drying costs.
  • Clean your outside dryer exhaust vent. It draws unwanted heat away from the house.
  • Dry several loads of laundry in a row. Using the heat already there saves money.
  • Dry clothes outside in good weather. Sunlight is free!

Contact

Theresa Mayhew
Resource Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences
tcm5@cornell.edu
(518) 828-3346 ext. 217

Last updated October 22, 2019