Dishwashers: Wash Up & Save a Buck

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Commercial DishwasherCommercial dishwashers are an integral part of your kitchen. They save you time, money, and keep your kitchen running smoothly and efficiently. So, what can you do to keep your dishwasher running perfectly, especially during the busy rush times? Take care of your commercial dishwasher and it will take care of you.

Wash Wisely

It’s a great feeling when you get a new dishwasher for your commercial kitchen. You think of all the ways this machine is going to help your kitchen run smoothly. By following these simple tips, you can ensure the life of your commercial dishwasher is a long, healthy one.

Invest in a pre-rinse unit

Installing a pre-rinse unit in your compartment sink lets you remove food waste from dishes before loading them in the dishwasher. This will help your dishwasher work more efficiently and, it keep food particles from sloshing around the wash chamber. Use a low-flow spray valve to keep water consumption as low as possible.

Install a booster heater

This kind of water heater can raise the water temperature 40-70ºF for the final rinse, while reducing energy costs at the same time. Just remember to turn it off at night to conserve energy.

Install a water softener

Fit your dishwasher with a water softener to reduce mineral deposits on the heating element. It will help your machine work more efficiently and prevent calcium buildup, which can cause serious damage to your dishwasher if not taken care of.

Always run a full load

Your energy and water expenses are the same for a full or half load. Running a full load will use your commercial kitchen’s water and energy most effectively.

Check the flow pressure

Look at your manufacturer’s operating manual for the correct flow pressure for your machine. Measured during rinse and fill cycles, flow pressure is typically between 15 and 25 pounds per square inch (psi). This range ensures proper operation.

Run conveyor dishwashers on auto mode

If you have a conveyor-type dishwasher, run it on auto mode to save energy. Manual mode will keep it operating even without dishes running through it, unless it is manually turned off after each rack moves through. This may seem convenient until you get those water and energy bills. Then, not so much.

Avoid the pre-rinse, rinse-hold and heat-dry features

Features like these may seem handy, but they tend to contribute to even more water loss. Instead, manually scrape and pre-rinse your dishes before loading them. Your high-temperature machine will flash dry the dishes due to the extreme heat of the rinse water. If you have a low-temp dishwasher or dish machine, consider letting the dishes air dry if possible.

Keep the heater tank at 140°F

Never raise the temperature setting of the water heater tank above 140°F. The heater is meant to run at a certain temperature, and keeping the tank 140°F will save on energy.

Turn off your dishwasher at night

There is no need to keep your dishwasher on when it is not in use. Keeping it operating when no dishes are being washed is simply a waste of energy. You’re pretty much giving away money if this simple step isn’t a habit.

Money-saving maintenance tips

To keep your equipment performing efficiently and with the least amount of energy, establish a regular maintenance plan. Fixing any small issues that arise will prevent the large ones from ever developing.

Keep an eye on your dishes

Dirty dishes are a sign that your dishwasher is not performing efficiently. Keep an eye on the dishes as a means of identifying any basic problems. It could be something as simple as the water pressure needs adjusted or you’ve run out of detergent.

Clean the filters

Make sure your machine’s filters are cleaned regularly to remove any solid waste that could damage the pump. This is a super simple step to take so that your dishwasher remains in tip top shape.

Check the wash arms

The wash arms spin on bearings that can wear out over time, thereby hindering wash arm performance. Check them frequently and replace any damaged bearings to prevent wasting energy.

Inspect your machine

Determine if any parts need to be replaced to keep your dishwasher working efficiently. A service technician can be a big help. If you find yourself having to fix your dishwasher often outside of regular maintenance, consider replacing it. The extra energy use and repair costs could end up hitting your wallet pretty heavily.

Double-check your settings

According to NSF guidelines, your rinse pressure should be set at 15 to 25 pounds per square inch for optimum energy use. Additionally, the wash tank should be set at 160°F and the booster heater should be set to 180°F. Your hot water heater should be set to 140°F.

Maintain wash curtains

Conveyor dishwashers include plastic strips hanging from both sides of the conveyor. These are in place to improve washer efficiency by trapping heat within the dishwashing machine. These strips will wear out over time and should be replaced.

Dishing Out Smart Buys

Saving energy dollars begins with choosing the right equipment. Save on energy, water, and electrical costs by deciding which features are most important for your business, then following these simple tips.

Look for the ENERGY STAR®

Commercial dishwashers that have earned the ENERGY STAR certification are approximately 25% more energy-efficient and 25% more water-efficient than their conventional counterparts. On top of that, ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers can save you up to $1,050 a year.

Select a built-in heat recovery system

This useful feature makes it possible for your commercial dishwasher to recycle heat, reducing the cost of operation.

Try a reduced-water rinse system

By increasing the pressure on the revolving arms, some newer-model commercial dishwashers use less water for the rinse cycle without compromising cleanliness. Many ENERGY STAR qualified models come equipped with this feature.

Choose models with programmable controls

Handheld computer interfaces are making dishwashing more automated and energy-efficient by scheduling specific functions, like start-up and shut-down times. You can also program an internal booster heater and diagnostic functions.

Buy with capacity in mind

Estimate your needs from a dishwasher and buy the appropriate size. Equipment that is too large will have a higher initial cost in addition to a higher operating cost. Assess the number of meals you serve per hour and be aware of your needs before you purchase.

Check for rebates

Many types of energy-efficient commercial kitchen equipment have rebates available from utility companies. It pays to check with your local utility provider since rebates can cut a significant portion off your initial cost.

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