Except for a few (slightly odd) folk who find it meditative, very few people enjoy washing dishes by hand. But with the current water crisis that South Africa is facing, it's difficult not to feel guilty when turning on a dishwasher and hearing all that precious liquid running through it. Truth is though, as Liam Gawne from respected appliance manufacturer Miele points out, washing a big load of dishes by hand actually uses more water than running a fully packed dishwasher does, and especially if you make use of a water-efficient model. In fact, investing in a machine that's built to reduce water usage as much as possible is one of the best ways to get clean cutlery and crockery guilt-free. Liam offers the following tips for choosing a water-efficient dishwasher: 1. always check the energy rating All new dishwashers should feature an EU energy label at the point of sale - this tag provides an indication of how much energy and water a specific model usually uses. Check this to see where the dishwasher is graded between A+++ (the most efficient to run) and D (the least efficient). Also inspect the label for figures indicating annual water consumption, drying and wash performance efficiency (graded A to G) and noise levels. 2. pick a dishwasher with extra eco-friendly features and advanced technology The way dishwashers are designed has changed dramatically over the last 10 years to include various advancements that help to minimise water and electricity usage. Look for a machine that has innovations like automatic load recognition that adjusts the amount of water deployed to suit the size of the load; soil sensors that continuously test the dirt level of your dishes and modify the water consumption accordingly; advanced water filtration that removes dirt from the wash water so it can be used more economically; and clever dish rack designs (like Miele's 3D cutlery tray) that position items carefully to maximise cleaning. 3. pick a size carefully If you live alone, consider opting for a more compact dishwasher model with fewer place settings to save water. Remember though, if you're a family or someone who racks up dirty plates quickly, investing in a standard model would be more efficient than running a smaller model very frequently. 4. make sure your dishwasher has various cycle options Pick a model that has a broad programme of wash cycle alternatives so that you can adjust it to suit your needs. Some of Miele's machines, for example, have quick or gentle options for only slightly dirty crockery and a hot intensive option for very soiled dishes, amongst other alternatives. Visit miele.co.za to find out more about the brand's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers.