Our family is currently running an experiment in handwashing our dishes. Our dishwasher is a p.o.s. - never gets anything clean, and we end up handwashing much of what comes out of it anyway. So, we are trying out something new to see if we even want to go to the expense of putting in a new dishwasher.
Our measure will be in our utility bill (which is a hard one, as it is naturally going up anyway this time of year because we've now turned the heat on - it may be hard to really tell the impact, but we can at least compare our month's expenses to the same month the previous year).
Handwashing may use less hot water (or water, in general)
...but, unless we get a sizable dish-drainer/dryer, it creates quite a bit more washing (towels.)
The dishes might appear cleaner (fewer spots, less dried on materials)
...but, the high-heat of a dishwasher may be more sanitary as it kills bacteria more completely.
Handwashing takes time...which we are short on in the evenings during the week
...but it keeps us from putting it off like we used to and gives us a time to talk and let the little guy get involved in chores (he likes to help dry).
Having to handwash means using more sponges and more dish soap ($$$) and needing more towels,
...but, the old costs of running the dishwasher may outweigh these new costs.
So, there you have it. I'll keep you posted.
I have brainstormed a few ideas to keep our costs down -
cold-water rinse (which I've heard may or may not be a good idea)
air-drying wet towels and re-using them
simply letting wet dishes air-dry themselves in a rack, eliminating the need for towels
Treehugger.com says the dishwasher wins hands-down for efficiency and green-ness
A great post by a fellow blogger that puts the debate in perspective
And one last post on the issue
Looks like most people say the dishwasher is more efficient and puts less impact on the planet in most regards. Damn! I didn't want to purchase a new machine. However, I'll go ahead and run my experiment and see for myself. I've always been that kind of person - I'll believe it when I see it (that stove isn't hot until I've burned my own hand on it!)