Let's cover the often-overlooked issue of disposal first. Most cities have large-item pick-up or drop-off programs that run throughout the year. Always check your city's website; across Canada each city will treat large-appliance disposal differently.
When it comes to all types of appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR logo. Dishwashers that qualify for the logo use about 32 per cent less electricity than the least-efficient ones on the market.
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ENERGY STAR is an American-based program, but here in Canada, federal law requires that the EnerGuide label be placed on all new electrical appliances manufactured in or imported into Canada. This label indicates the amount of electricity used by that appliance. When you're on the floor looking at display models, find the black-and-white EnerGuide label to compare the energy use of similar models and estimate annual operating costs.
And last but not least, don't overlook the type of soap you'll be using in your new dishwasher. If you haven't switched to an eco-friendlier option without phosphates or chlorine—now's the time.
How will you know it's free of harmful chemicals? Choose a soap that has all the ingredients listed on the label or make your own using my green cleaning recipe.
Disclaimer: My dishwasher soap recipe is not perfect for daily use—it will leave a film on your dishes over time. It's best used every few loads or when you're in a pinch. I also recommend adding a teaspoon of citric acid for an added cleaning boost.