In the average American household, appliances account for about 20% of the home’s total energy usage. If you’re looking for ways to chip away at your energy bills and reduce your impact on the environment, let’s take a look at one appliance-heavy chore: the laundry.
Energy Efficiency Makes a Big Difference
Energy-efficient washing machines can use as much as 50% less energy per load than an older, less efficient model. Newer washing machines can also wring more water from each load helping to reduce drying time. An inefficient dryer can use 20% more energy than a newer model, especially one that uses sensors instead of a timer to stop the machine. Heating water can account for 90% of the cost of washing a load of laundry in hot water. Washing in cold water can help cut down on this cost. Some loads are too dirty for cold, so an efficient water heater can keep this expense in check.
Beyond New Appliances
Sometimes, you can’t just run out and replace your appliances. Or, maybe you already have, and you want to know what else you can do to cut back on your energy usage. Here are six simple things you can do right now to cut back:
Wash Full Loads. Most washing machines allow you to choose the size of the load to avoid using too much water, but the energy savings are minimal. To get the most from each energy dollar, try to stick to full – but not overfull – loads.
Soak and Soap Appropriately. If you’re unsure about using cold water, try out a few soaps formulated especially for cooler temps. You might be surprised how clean your clothes can get. Plus, be sure to pre-treat and soak stains and heavily soiled items to avoid having to rewash anything that didn’t come clean.
Keep the Dryer Clean. Always clean the lint filter before every load and periodically use a long nozzle attachment on a vacuum cleaner to get anything under or behind the screen. Clean exhaust ducts at least once per year and occasionally check where the dryer vent is located outside to be sure there are no obstructions.
Hang Dry. Not every busy family has time or space to hang-dry ten loads of laundry every week. Instead, try to reduce the overall drying time by hanging up a few large items like bulky sweatshirts, blankets, or towels.
Sort Heavy and Light Items. If you’d rather not have towels strung about the house, separate them and other heavy items from lighter, smaller items like socks and cotton shirts and dry similar items together. The short drying times for light clothing can help balance the longer times for heavy items.
Do Back-to-Back Loads. Wash your lightest items first. They’ll have a quick drying time and will warm up the dryer for the next loads. Then, heavier loads can benefit from the residual heat and use less energy to get dry.
Every Effort Counts
Even if you are unable to replace your appliances, making small changes to how you wash your clothes can have a big impact on your energy bill and the environment. With a bit of extra planning, you can do your laundry like a money-saving champ!