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Reblogged:Dishwasher Woes? Blame Central Planning.

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Readers here might already know about how central planning affects everything from suburban street layout to architecture to automobile design. It is still worthwhile to head on over to Issues and Insights, where John Merline writes about how they affect dishwashers, gas cans, and cars. Regarding the first of these, Merline asks, "Have you ever wondered why dishwashers today take twice as long to do a worse job of cleaning dishes?"

As a new homeowner (with a cruddy new dishwasher), I can unfortunately vouch for the following experience:

They purposely "don't make 'em like they used to." (Image by Piotrus, via Wikimedia Commons, license. )
Earlier this month, the Department of Energy announced that it would revise its rules regarding dishwasher efficiency. Why? Because the existing rules -- which set limits on how much electricity and water a dishwasher may use -- are forcing manufacturers to build machines that are worse than ever.

The DOE was responding to a petition from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which found that average dishwasher cycle times climbed from just over an hour back in the mid 1980s to two-and-a-half hours today -- with each increase in between the result of increasingly strict federal efficiency mandates.

"It is not technologically feasible to create dishwashers that both meet the current standards and have cycle times of one hour or less," the petition stated.

Shouldn't dishwasher efficiency be something that the market dictates? Consumers trade off convenience for savings every day. Why should dishwashers be any different? Particularly when the regulations result in a savings of something like $2 a month. [bold added, link dropped]
Neither that two-and-a-half hours nor that worse job are exaggerations. That has been my experience with the highly rated -- comparatively, I have to assume -- dishwasher that came with our home. The slow speed was immediately apparent, but the worse job part took some time to manifest. After about a month and a half of doing a spectacular job, albeit a slow one, I started seeing spots and streaks on my glassware and, within a week, chalkiness on my plasticware and white deposits on the door of the machine.

Some research into the problem revealed: (a) My dishwasher required monthly cleanings -- manual and chemical -- I'd never had to do. (I was a renter and got to use older dishwashers until last year.); and (b) The hard water in our area could greatly exacerbate the problem I was seeing. (All major brands of dishwashing detergent lack phosphates thanks to regulations in some states and spinelessness among the major brands.) I did the cleanings and switched to a phosphate detergent. It still took about two months for the problem to go away, and I now have to use that detergent and a more expensive gel pack-based detergent alternately.

Based on the need for maintenance and more expensive detergent, the two dollar figure for energy savings is generous to a fault: I am losing money and time thanks to these immoral and impractical infringements on our freedom.

My thanks go to the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Issues and Insights for fighting back, by bringing these issues to the attention of more Americans.

-- CAV

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