Increasing costs for energy and water influence consumer decision making when purchasing white goods, such as dishwashers. Since the implementation of the European Energy Label, considerable improvements in water and energy consumption of dishwashers has been achieved, and for consumers, efficiency has become one of the main buzzwords when buying any major new household appliance. However, ownership of an efficient dishwasher in itself does not guarantee savings in energy and water during the course of the dishwashing process. Conservation of resources also requires changes in consumer behaviour. This paper provides empirical data on consumers' dishwashing habits in everyday life in four European countries, deals with the influence of their behaviour on the efficiency of the dishwashing process and highlights savings potentials in the usage of dishwashers. It reports on the results of a survey involving a total of 1209 online interviews conducted in winter 2006/2007. The survey data have been analysed to reveal the importance of various product attributes for consumers and show that low water and energy consumption values are the most important consideration for the respondents in terms of their purchasing decision. But this is compromised, at least in part, by less efficient dishwasher use, e. g. in pre-rinsing dishes before placing them into the dishwasher and in the programme choice. In addition, differences in manual dishwashing practices between households with and without a dishwasher, as well as between countries, will be shown. Finally, conclusions are drawn for greater sustainability in the dishwashing process.
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