Despite the exciting title which conjures up images of me being bundled into an unmarked car, and held in an unused shower block for several weeks until I fashion an escape using just my sheer ingenuity, fearless attitude, bits of pipe, an old bar of soap, some broken tiles and several fixed shower heads, it is, sadly, nothing of the sort.

Merely the fact that Lyds/Lydz, during a caffeine fuelled cycle run, requested I write about when we got a dishwasher. I did explain that wasn’t really a year of showering variously now was it? But she reckons the legion of loyal blog readers will find it most interesting, and who am I to disagree? So …our dishwasher.

It took seven years of hard graft by Suhith (backed up by various friends and relations) before I finally succumbed to the request for a dishwasher. Why was I so against it? Apart from the innate aversion to progress as exhibited by plumbers of course, and with combi boilers as the exception that proves the rule. After all, an AA rated dishwasher can wash a 12 piece dinner set with just 11 litres of water, and those sort of figures are certainly impressive. Well, there are several reasons.

Firstly, who has 12 round for food every night? Certainly not us!

Secondly, whilst washing machines are great, saving time as well as water, especially during the rinse cycle (as anyone who has ever had to wash clothes by hand will testify), washing dishes doesn’t take that long, and rinsing off the soap suds is easy. It’s the saucepans that take the time. Sure, you can put them into the dishwasher but then you have pretty much filled the dishwasher, rendering the water efficiency performance all but irrelevant. So you still have to wash stuff by hand.

Then there is the ‘should you or should you not rinse the plates before you put them into the dishwasher’ question. If you don’t get rid of bits of food then the filters will soon become a putrid mess of glop and the water won’t be able to drain away properly. And, as I have probably mentioned before, clearing out decomposed food from waste pipes and drains is worse than clearing a blocked toilet. Also, if you are not a household of twelve and don’t want to use the dishwasher every day, but don’t rinse, any bits of food left on the plates will start to go off and smell.

But the main reason I didn’t want one is that they are cold fill, and therefore use electricity to heat the water to the desired temperature, whereas we get our hot water from an A rated gas condensing boiler when washing dishes by hand. Avid readers of this blog will know the following off by heart but for those new to the blog, the CO2 content of UK electricity is 0.52kg CO2/kWh compared to 0.21 KgCO2/kWh from our gas boiler (even after I’ve taken the 10% efficiency drop into account). Not only are dishwashers cold fill but the temperature at which they wash dishes is higher than most people will hand wash dishes. So, the dishwasher is heating water from a 10 degrees C incoming temperature up to whatever is required. Our machine (which is AA plus rated has three temperature settings. 50 degrees C (the ‘eco’ setting!), 60 and 70. It trundles away for 2 hours 40 minutes on the ‘eco’ setting. If you put it onto a higher temperature setting it takes less time – but I have no idea of the logic behind that.

So, how do I manage to still sleep at night? Well, firstly I plumbed the dishwasher into the hot water supply. Because that is coming from our combi boiler it is probably being delivered at about 45 degrees C (based on a 35 degrees C temperature lift), thus requiring the water to be heated through a mere 5 degrees C as we only ever use the eco setting. Instead of rinsing the plates, I use a damp cloth to wipe off the food, which works perfectly. We always put it on last thing at night, which is when demand on the electricity grid is lower. And I spend a lot of time taking bulky things out of the dishwasher to wash up with the saucepans so as to leave more space in it for plates.

Bloody hell Cath, isn’t there anything you like about it? Well, yes. I like the fact I made it hot fill. Kind of seems like beating the system. Also means I have been able to do some nerdy calcs.

Dishwasher calcs

As this fab little spreadsheet details, (and the table above highlights) instead of emitting 100.29 kgCO2 a year if we cold filled our dishwasher, we emit just over half that at 50.28, a saving of 50 kg of CO2. Can’t be bad. Though still 17.6 more KGCO2 than if we washed up by hand.

And, it has to be said, that the cleanliness of the mugs makes my heart soar every time I take them out! So there you have it. Normal service will be resumed next month…

October 2014 – Hijacked!