Dishwasher Quick Wash Saves More Than Time

Dishwasher

What happens when you use the “Quick Wash” setting on your dishwasher — even when you aren’t pressed for time? Viewpoints welcomes the smart people at Powerhouse Dynamics, a leader in energy measurement and management, as expert contributors to our blog. They discovered something that could save you money.

I’m one of those people who rinses all the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. I know I’m not supposed to do this – modern detergents need to “eat” something, and if there are no bits of food to eat, the detergent will eat my dishes, or something like that — but I can’t seem to help myself. Is that a little bit neurotic? It is? OK, just checking.Because this is a habit I can’t seem to break, I decided to see if I’m reaping any benefit from it. If I remember correctly from my high school psychology class, I believe this is a defense mechanism known as “rationalization.”

Quick Wash vs. Auto Wash

I’m also an energy geek, so I decided that since I’m already half-washing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, I should try an experiment by switching to the “Quick Wash” mode on my dishwasher instead of using the default “Auto Wash” mode.

There are several questions my highly-scientific experiment is designed to answer:

  • How much energy would “Quick Wash” mode save over “Auto Wash” mode, if any?
  • Would my dishes still be clean?
  • And most importantly, would I feel better about my neurosis after the analysis?

Let’s look at the facts

I bought my dishwasher – a Bosch Series 500 – in late 2010, so it’s still pretty new. I really love it. I love the fact it’s so silent, Bosch designed the unit to shine a red light on the floor so you know when it’s running.

I also love the fact Bosch claims it exceeds the Energy Star rating for water consumption by 69%. I don’t have data to validate this claim, but hey, it sounds great. Plus, maybe it makes up for some of the gallons of water I waste by pre-rinsing my dishes.

Bosch also claims the unit has something called “EcoSense” which is supposed to reduce energy use by up to 20%. I’m not quite sure what this means. Reduce energy use by 20% compared to itself? Compared to other dishwashers? Compared to people who DON’T rinse their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher?

Whatever the EcoSense thing is doing, here’s the data from my experiment, courtesy of my employer’s handy-dandy eMonitor:

“Auto Wash” default operating mode: “Quick Wash” operating mode:
Criteria Result
Total energy consumption 1.17kWh
Run time 1:40
Dishes Sparkling clean!
Criteria Result
Total energy consumption 0.56 kWh
Run time 0:34
Dishes Sparkling clean! And maybe a little wet when done…

What does this mean?

The “Quick Wash” mode actually does use substantially less energy — Quick Wash uses a little less than ½ the energy consumed versus “Auto Wash” mode. Over the course of the year, this will save my family some money, which is great. The only trade-off is that the dishes seem to be a little wetter when done compared to the Auto Wash mode.

But the biggest benefit to me is the time savings. 1:40 is a long time to wait for a load to finish washing – especially if I have guests coming over for dinner and I forgot to run the dishes well in advance of needing to set the table…

Bosch dishwasher

Bosch 500 Series 24 in. Dishwasher

My eMonitor tells me that my family washes dishes about once every other day:

If this means my family runs the dishwasher 180 times per year, we’re saving 198 hours of dishwasher run time annually by using “Quick Wash” mode. Not that I’m waiting for every single load to finish, but that’s a lot of run time avoided. Maybe there’s a benefit here, too, with a longer lifespan for my dishwasher, given the shorter run time.

So, am I happy with my Bosch 500 dishwasher? Yes.

Does it really make a difference if I use the “Quick Wash” mode? Yep – ½ the energy and 1/3 the run time, and the dishes appear just a clean as they do in “Auto Wash” mode, thanks in part to my pre-rinsing habit.

And finally, do I feel better about my neurosis? Heck, yes. I’m feeling fully justified. No defense mechanism required.

Jay Fiske (1 Posts)

Jay Fiske is Vice President of Business Development for Powerhouse Dynamics, developers of the eMonitor energy, asset, and water management platform for homes and small commercial facilities. Jay is responsible for leading the company’s overall sales and marketing strategy, developing and growing market channels and establishing strategic partnerships.


  • mike_silva

    Your analysis is fundamentally flawed. You are using more energy and water than is saved in pre-rinsing to use quick wash.

    Further, baseline the minimum water use for quick wash is 22% higher (a little under a gallon) than auto wash. This water gets heated to the same wash temperature and slightly higher rinse temperature as the smaller amount of water used in a baseline auto wash.

    And if more volume of water is used, but needs to be raised to the same temperature, that means energy consumption goes up. Your meter devices is not measuring the increased use of your homes water heater to deliver more preheated 120 degree water to the dishwasher.

    You are not properly accounting for all energy inputs…let alone water.

    • Marcel

      It also sounds like there isn’t a proper accounting of drying energy. It sounds like Auto mode had a much more thorough dry process compared to Quick mode. It’s unclear if this particular model lets you adjust any of that.

  • DeMarie Rossi

    I am a bit confused by this – mainly because my dishwasher’s manual tells me that quick wash will use more energy – we have a GE