Whether you do laundry every day or just once or twice a week, the chore is time-consuming—and energy-consuming. The average American family spends several hundred dollars each year on laundry; most of that cost comes from heating water for washing and heating air for drying, resulting in a significant increase in your monthly utility bills.
If you’re trying to cut back on energy usage and costs, you may be looking for small changes you can make throughout your home. But don’t forget to adjust your habits in the laundry room too.
Gexa’s guide to finding energy savings in your laundry room could help you limit your electricity use and reduce the charges on your utility bills, resulting in summer energy savings and savings all year round.
Switch to Cold Water
As much as 90% of the energy that your washer uses comes solely from heating water but washing your clothes in warm or hot water is a waste of energy. Cold water is an efficient and effective way to clean most laundry and costs only about 4 cents per load, compared to warm water’s 68 cents, helping your laundry save electricity.
But what about germs? Many people set their washers to warm or hot because they believe the high temperatures kill bacteria. In most cases, however, the average wash cycle doesn’t reach the temperature necessary to eliminate germs. The bleach or peroxide in the detergent handles that job, as does regularly cleaning your washing machine.
If you have clothing that needs to be washed in warm or hot water, separate your loads based on this criteria. That way, you can wash all hot-water laundry in one load and use cold for everything else.
Related: Explore our tips to save on your summer electric bill.
Choose Energy Star Appliances
The older your washing machine or dryer, the more energy it uses to run. When it’s time for an upgrade, purchase an ENERGY STAR®-certified model to help cut energy costs. ENERGY STAR® products meet specific energy-efficiency standards and use about 20% less energy than non-ENERGY STAR® models.
ENERGY STAR®-certified washing machines use 33% less water than standard machines, making this investment well worthwhile in the long term. One load of laundry with an ENERGY STAR® machine can cost as little as a quarter, adding up to a savings of over $100 a year.
In addition to choosing ENERGY STAR® models, you should consider a front-loading washer, which uses about 45% less energy and 50% less water than top-loading models.
Optimize Your Drying
Your clothes dryer gets laundry to dry quickly, but its energy costs can quickly add up. But did you know how hanging laundry saves electricity? Consider drying your laundry the old-fashioned way: with an outdoor clothesline that takes advantage of the natural power and heat of the sun. If you can’t put up a clothesline, consider using an indoor drying rack to hang clothes in the laundry room.
Even if you want to keep using your dryer on laundry day, there are still things you can do to make your dryer more efficient:
- Keep your dryer in a warmer room rather than a cold basement or garage.
- Only dry full loads.
- Use dryer balls, which help keep clothes separated for faster drying.
- Switch to a gas dryer, which costs less per load than an electric model.
A simple trick is quickly moving wet clothes into the dryer while the machine is still warm. This way, you can take advantage of any residual heat remaining in the dryer from the previous cycle.
Plan Out Your Loads
It’s common sense that some clothes dry faster than others, but did you know that you can put this knowledge to use to save energy?
Instead of separating laundry loads by colors and whites, sort by drying speed. For example, light cotton clothing like T-shirts dries relatively quickly, while heavier materials such as denim take longer to dry. Put all your quick-drying items in the same load. If you mix slow-drying clothing with fast-drying pieces, your dryer will waste time and energy heating clothes that are already dried.
With this simple change in routine, you can keep from over-drying your clothes and reduce the time your dryer runs, saving energy and money.
Select the Right Spin Cycle
If your washing machine has options for the spin cycle, choose the fastest one. The faster your clothes spin in the washer, the less time they will need in the dryer. This is because a faster spin cycle will draw more water out of your clothes, resulting in less drying time when you transfer the load to the dryer.
Keep It Clean
A cleaner dryer will work better because buildup in the machine’s ducts and lint trap can block heat, leading to more energy usage to dry your clothes, which means more money on your monthly utility bills.
Make sure to clean the lint trap after every use. Doing so will keep your dryer operating efficiently and remove a potential fire hazard.
Although ducts collect lint much more slowly, you should still take time to clean your ducts every year.
Consider replacing your exhaust ducts with smooth ducts. If your dryer has to push air past the pleats or ridges in the ducts, it will use more energy. Switching to smooth ducts can help reduce energy usage and lower electricity costs.
By understanding how your laundry saves electricity, you can cut back on energy usage in the laundry and save money on your monthly utility bills.
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