Your laundry room may be tiny, but did you know that it is one of the largest energy-consuming rooms in your house? When it comes to green laundry room practices, the ideal situation is to hand wash and use an outside clothesline. Let’s face it—with our busy schedules and iffy weather, this green solution is rather impractical. Here instead are eight very practical and easy solutions to save energy and cut utility costs by nearly $300 a year.
Wash With Cold Water
According to Energy Star, about 90-percent of your washing machine’s operating costs goes to your hot water heater. By reducing the amount of hot water your washer uses, you’ll significantly shrink the hot water portion of your utility bills. But don’t just wash in cold water. Be sure your machine is set to rinse in cold as well. The Alliance to Save Energy states that by using cold water to wash your clothes for one year, you can save enough money to run an average home for up to two weeks.
Purchase an Energy-Star Certified Washer
If your washer is near the end of its run, look for a new Energy Star certified washer. These appliances are designed to use at least 40 percent less energy and up to 65 percent less water than a standard washer. Most full-sized Energy Star washers use 18-25 gallons of water per load, compared to the 40 gallons used by a standard machine. And if you get a front-load washer, you’ll cut your hot water use by 60-70 percent.
Run Full Loads
Your washer uses the same amount of electricity to run a half-full load as it does a full load. If you can stretch your wardrobe far enough, wait until you have enough clothes to fill the tub. If you need to run a smaller load, use the appropriate water-level setting. By reducing the number of overall loads by one-quarter, you can save $15 a year.
Turn Down the Water Heater
Most water heaters are set for 140 degrees Fahrenheit and that’s actually too hot for most residential needs with the possible exception of your dishwasher. Lower your water heater setting to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and you’ll be saving energy even when you wash clothes in hot or warm water. According to the Department of Energy, you can save between 3-5 percent in energy costs for each 10-degree reduction in water temperature. Lower temps also slow mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes, helping your water heater last longer and operate at its maximum efficiency. However, before you turn down the temp, be sure to check your dishwasher’s instruction manual to make sure it will still operate efficiently with water cooler than 140 degrees. Some older models require hotter water to be efficient.
Watch Your Settings
Good dryer efficiency starts in the washer’s spin cycle. Setting the maximum spin speed in the washer will reduce the amount of time—and energy—it takes to get clothes dry. If your dryer has an automated moisture-sensing device, use it. Setting the timer can cause the dryer to run longer than needed, but a moisture sensor will automatically turn off the machine when it senses the clothes are dry. This will save $8-12 a year.
Choose a Gas Dryer
Did you know that a dryer powered by natural gas dries a load of clothes three times faster than an electric dryer? If you have a gas line coming into your home, consider a gas powered dryer the next time you go appliance shopping.
Clean the Lint Filter
We’re all a little guilty of this one! The truth is, dryers have to work harder and longer to dry clothes when the air doesn’t freely flow. It’s a good habit to clean the lint screen after each load. This helps to improve air circulation, reduce drying time and prevent fires. The Department of Energy suggests that you periodically use the long nozzle tip of your vacuum cleaner to remove the link that builds up below the dryer’s lint screen slot. Also, inspect your dryer vent occasionally to make sure it’s not blocked.
Dry Similar Fabrics Together
Don’t put your heavier cottons and towels in the same load as your lighter-weight, faster-drying clothes. Lightweight synthetics dry much more quickly than bath towels and natural fiber clothes. Keep like fabrics together and do back-to-back loads to take advantage of residual heat, starting with a load of fast-drying fabrics. You’ll save energy by using an already heated dryer that doesn’t have to be brought up to temperature each time it is used.
By understanding your laundry room appliances, you can create a smart plan to help you save energy in your home and dollars in your wallet!