Q. Dear Umbra,

With regards to dishwasher cycle times vs. power and water usage, is it better to run the normal cycle (1:43 to 2 hours) that uses less water but more power, or the 1-hour cycle that uses less power but more water?

Rene S.
Litchfield Park, Arizona

A. Dearest Rene,

Are you, by any chance, eyeing an overflowing sink of dirty dishes right now? Or dreading the overflowing sink to come after ringing in the new year this weekend? Or both? I do love revelry with friends and family, but my, we certainly pay the piper in the form of cleanup. My usual position is that careful hand-washing is the best way to get those dishes sparkly, but sometimes the task is just too daunting. For those times, we turn to the magic of the dishwasher — and the confusion of its many cycle settings.