Saturday, September 19, 2009

True Cost of Environmentalism

According to some, the most serious looming environmental crisis is a shortage of fresh water.
Here is a story about the fresh water crisis and EPA regulations designed to conserve fresh water.

Three years ago, we renovated out kitchen. We bought a new high end Bosch dishwasher. Stainless steel on the inside, matches our cabinets on the outside, quiet as a mouse, but does not clean dishes for beans. Right from the beginning, we have had water spots on our glasses, and over time, it became worse: water spots, soap spots, dirt, etc. We had the repairmen here several times, to no avail. We tried everything: more soap, less soap, more rinse aid, less rinse aid. The store from whom we bought it, Michael's Appliances, and Bosch said that hard water
must be the culprit.

That sounded plausible, except for one minor problem: the previous dishwasher, a 20 (at least) year old rusty Whirlpool that sounded like a lawn mower had given us spotless dishes, and used the same water! So how could it be that hard water was the problem?

After 3 years of bickering (sorry, President Obama, the Constitution guarantees my right to bicker) with Michael's Appliances, they sent someone fairly knowledgable to our house, and he answered my question.

How is it that rusty-old-whirlpool cleans dishes better than shiny-new-Bosch? The old dishwasher used 13 to 15 gallons of water per wash cycle. The new one uses 4 to five gallons.
The new one, to save energy, has a less powerful heater, and the heater is a coil within the pipes of the dishwasher, instead of a big loop below the dish rack. So, it has less water and colder water. Hard water does interfere with the effectiveness of the soap, but if you use enough water, as in the old models, it does not matter. But with the lower water volume, it does matter. Over time, soap and calcium salts are deposited in the heater coil, and this interferes with the water flow and the heating efficiency, so that the machine becomes less and less effective over time.

So, now we have had to have the dishwasher removed, so the pipes could be properly cleaned out. We have to run hot water in the kitchen sink to pre-heat the water for the dishwasher. We have to get a whole-house water softener, a $2000. to $3000. investment. Water softeners (a) remove calcium and magnesium, which are good for you, (b) add sodium, which is bad for you, especially if you have high blood pressure, (c) have to be backwashed every night, which wastes dozens of gallons of water, and costs me more money, and (d) have to have the salt replenished from time to time, which costs me time and labor.

You can have the high-tech Bosch dishwasher; and you can have the EPA, while you are at it.
Give me the 20 year old clunker, and good, old-fashioned, patriotic, hard American water any day.


RKL said...

Great post, and very true. I miss the days when you bought something because it worked well, not because it was an energy saver.


Desman said...

Those days are long gone.

GBK said...

Here's another solution:

dish soap:$1
drying rack: $5

ALK said...

Oh no! Not water spots!!!!! Man, if there is one universal truth about life in Amurricuh, it that it's a struggle. What a jerk, that socialist dictator Obama must be to have forced you to spend all that money on a brand new, (supposedly) water efficient dishwasher. Doesn't he know that change is bad? Why can't he just leave good enough alone?

Also - patriotic water? Que?

Desman said...

The problem is, you young idealists, that hand washing consumes MUCH more water and heat (can you say "carbon footprint") than a dishwasher. Even the old dishwashers. Here's another option I just thought of: paper plates. Gotta try that.

liberalhippieartisttypeAKates said...

Paper plates are a great idea - you can compost them ;)