Q: I need a new super-quiet and efficient dishwasher. My old one sounds like a jet preparing for takeoff. Are there new types of quiet dishwashers and what efficiency features should I consider?
A: There are some new super-quiet dishwashers designed with many soundproofing features. One design is also so energy-efficient that it costs less than $45 per year to operate with an electric water heater. These quiet models also use three-level sprays for excellent cleaning.
Super-quiet dishwashers are generally energy-efficient for several reasons. They are usually the top-of-the-line models with many different washing cycles. The high level of sound insulation materials also helps keep the wash water hotter with less heat loss into your kitchen. This is a real plus in the summer.
About 80 percent of the cost of operating a dishwasher is used to heat the wash water. Water usage in a typical full-size dishwasher ranges from about 7 gallons on a light-wash cycle to 15 gallons on a pots/pans cycle.
One new super-quiet dishwasher design uses a special two-pump system. The two smaller pumps require a smaller water reservoir than with other single-pump systems. This cuts the hot water usage from the typical 12 gallons on a normal cycle to fewer than 6 gallons, saving more than 1,500 gallons of water a year.
Soundproofing is accomplished with a special insulation wrap permanently bonded to the outside of the stainless steel tub and inner door. The two small pump motors are insulated and more soundproofing material is sandwiched between the inner and outer lining walls. It operates at only 10 decibels above the sound of a human whisper.
Select a dishwasher that has a water preheater. (A dishwasher needs 140-degree water). This allows you to set your water heater temperature lower to 120 degrees. Lowering the water heater temperature from 140 to 120 degrees can save 10 percent to 15 percent of your annual water heating costs.
More wash cycle settings allow you to tailor the length of the cycle to the specific load. Four or five different cycles should meet most of your needs. Always select the shortest cycle that provides adequate cleaning.
A time delay start is also a money-saving feature. If your area has reduced electric rates at night, you can set timers to operate the quiet dishwasher at night after you go to bed.
You can write to me for "Utility Bills Update No. 028" listing addresses and telephone numbers of manufacturers of the most efficient dishwashers, product information and specifications on the new super-quiet one- and two-pump models and dishwashing efficiency tips. Please include $1.50 and a self-addressed business-size envelope.
Q: I have heard that dimmer switches on my lamps save electricity. Will dimmer switches also make my light bulbs last longer?
A: Dimmer switches can save electricity, especially if the level of lighting that you need in a room varies. Dimmers are often very effective in kitchens and living rooms where your needs alternate from very bright, intense lighting to dim mood lighting.
Dimmer switches also can make your light bulbs last longer. As you know, light bulbs typically burn out just as you switch them on. Turning on a dimmer switch slows down the large surge of electricity and heat to the bulb filament. The reduced stress increases the bulb life.
Write to James Dulley, c/o Baltimore Sun, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244.