Wring energy savings from your washer and dryer

Laundry is a thankless chore. Worse yet, washers and dryers can be energy gluttons, driving up your utility bills. But don't let frugality stand in the way of having clean clothes. Following best practices can help reduce the amount of energy you use in the laundry room. Check out these tips when buying and using your washer and dryer in order to get the most bang for your buck:

Save energy with your washing machine:

  • Look for Energy Star certified washers, which use 20 percent less energy and 35 percent less water than other models.
  • Machines with automatic sensors can gauge the right amount of water for the job, reducing waste.
  • Front loading washers usually use less water than top loading models.
  • Purchase the smallest washer that will meet your family's needs.
  • Use cold water whenever possible. Hot water accounts for 90 percent of the energy use of a washing machine, according to Energy Star, and if cold water won't work you can save up to 50 percent by switching from hot to warm.
  • Buy high-efficiency detergent. These detergents create fewer suds that can limit your machine's performance.
  • If your washer has manual settings make sure that the load size is set appropriately. Full loads are the most efficient way to go.
  • Get a head start on very dirty clothes by soaking them before washing.
  • For clothes that are only lightly soiled, reduce the amount of time they are in the wash.
  • Set the washer to do a second spin cycle, which will decrease the amount of time the clothes need to spend in the dryer.

Don't let your dryer be an energy hog:

  • Historically, consumers haven't had the benefit of Energy Star certificates to help them rate dryers. However, that changes on Jan. 1, 2015, when dryers become the latest appliance to receive the efficiency thumbs up from the federal government. If you're in the market for a new model, take note.
  • Consider a gas dryer if your house has the appropriate hook-up. Gas dryers work faster than electric models and gas is cheaper than electricity.
  • Get a dryer with a moisture sensor so it shuts off automatically once the clothes are dry.
  • Keep the lint screen clean to facilitate air circulation, not to mention prevent fires.
  • Vacuum out behind the lint filter periodically and make sure the dryer vent to the outdoors is clear to optimize performance.
  • Use “delicate” or “permanent press” settings for lighter fabrics that need less heat.
  • Don't underload or overload the dryer, which reduces efficiency and performance.
  • For the most energy savings, don't use a dryer at all. Instead, hang your clothes out to dry on a line, or inside on drying racks.


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