Hey! Drop the sponge and move away from the sink. That's right: it's time to stop washing dishes by hand. According to the EPA, using an energy-efficient dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. An energy-efficient dishwasher, such as an Energy Star certified washer, uses only 4 gallons per cycle, saving as much as 5,000 gallons of water per year compared with hand washing. By using an energy-efficient dishwasher, you'll also save an average of $40 in energy costs and 230 hours of washing time. Take all of those extra hours and do something fun, like wallpapering that extra bedroom.