Want to hear some great news? It's more environmentally friendly to use a dishwasher than wash dishes by hand! So throw out those marigolds, get the plumber in, install a dishwasher and get ready for more "me time".
Recent research, approved by the University of Bonn in Germany claims that the average household does two to three hand washes a day. Including rinsing this uses around 60 litres of water daily. A good modern dishwasher uses only 12 litres per wash (some manufacturers claim their machines use only 9 or 10 litres), which takes care of a normal day's dishwashing, so even if you have friends round to double the number of dirty dishes, technology still wins.
A UK Government body called Waterwise has added to the dishwasher's support by stating that hand washing dishes accounts for around 10% of a household's water use whereas homes with a dishwasher can cut this figure down to 2% - UK wide if everyone used a dishwasher we could save a quarter of a billion litres of water each day.
What the research doesn't cover is the environmental cost of manufacturing dishwashers and running them - and of course getting rid of them when they've done their time. But if you get an A rated machine then you'll know that compared with other machines on the market, yours is using less energy when washing and drying your kitchenware than most.
And you can further reduce your environmental impact by always making sure you only use the dishwasher when its full and by using economy settings when dishes aren't very greasy and don't need piping hot water. Also, look into the new environmentally friendly plant based detergents which are eco-friendly.
And if you haven't got the space or money to buy a dishwasher then you can cut down on water and energy consumption in several ways. Use the plug instead of cleaning things in running water. Scrape off excess food in to the bin or your composter to keep the water clean for as long as possible and to avoid soaking. Wash glasses and hardly used crockery first in the cleanest water, and the greasiest items last (but don't leave it too long as you'll need the hot water!). And instead of rinsing each item individually, dunk them in a sink of clean water together.
So what about other appliances? Well, we haven't found any equivalent research about washing machines, but when we hand wash we tend to wash items individually whereas an awful lot of clothes can be put in a washing machine. Obviously it helps if you put the machine on a low temperature setting as heating the water uses large amounts of energy, and try and use plant based detergents or wash balls to cut down on the chemicals you release into the environment.
Tumble dryers are the big energy users. There really is no use for them in the summer if you have a balcony or a garden. The sun will even bleach your whites and drying this way is completely free - all you need is a long plastic cord and some pegs. On the occasions when you feel you can't avoid using a tumble dryer use drying balls - they come in pairs and cut down on the time needed to dry your washing thereby saving energy. They also help to soften the fabrics.
When you're next doing your household chores think about the energy and water consumption you will require. Get a plumber to install environmentally less damaging appliances and if you fill them up before switching them on you'll be maximising on the benefits of using them. Manufacturers are already producing machines that use less far less water than old fashioned hand washing - think what other advantages might be in the pipeline.