Make the most of the energy it takes to do laundry

Here are some numbers for you.

  • 13,500 galls of water: The amount the average U.S. household uses to complete almost 400 loads of laundry each year, according to
  • 7,000 gallons: The amount of water that can be saved each year by an energy-efficient front-loading washing machine when compared to the average top-loading washing machine
  • 49 percent: The percentage of laundry loads in the U.S. that run with warm water. By comparison, 37 percent run with cold water and 14 percent with hot.
  • 89 percent: How much more energy is used to “do a load” of laundry on a hot water setting in a top-loading washer as compared to a load in a front-loading machine on a cold-water setting.
  • 88 percent: The average increase in energy efficiency for washing machines manufactured between 1981 and 2003.

When it comes to the amount of energy consumed through use of standard plug-in appliances, your washer takes second place only to your home’s refrigerator. If you have a standard, top-loading washing machine, it probably uses twice as much water per load than newer, front-loading units bearing the ENERGYSTAR® logo. Washing machines earning this distinction use between 18 and 25 gallons per load, compared to 40 gallons for older machines.

But buying a new washer is not something in everyone’s household budget. Not to worry. There are many low and no-cost things you can do to make the most of your clothes-cleaning energy without a huge investment!

  • While you may have been taught that certain stains and soils require hot water, about 90 percent of energy needed for that cycle setting is consumed in heating the
    water. Some new detergents are made to tackle those same stains using warm or cold water. Not only will this save energy, but cold-water washing will also keep colors bright, reduce wrinkling and won’t set stains.
  • Your washer will use about the same amount of mechanical energy, regardless of how full it is. Set the water level for the amount of laundry you are running to
    keep from using more water than necessary.
  • Some lightly-soiled loads only need 10 minutes of washing. To compensate, adjust to a “delicates” setting or advance the cycle half-way through to reduce wash time. If you have a “high spin” option, use it to cut down on drying time.
  • According to ENERGYSTAR®, the average U.S. home spends about $100 a year in electricity using their clothes dryer. Drying is all about moving air through your fabrics to take moisture away. So, before you start every load, clean lint out of the filter to ensure air can circulate more freely.
  • Start with a load of fast-drying fabrics. If your dryer has a moisture sensor, use it. This will automatically reduce the amount of drying time and shut off the machine when it senses clothes are dry. By the way, this also reduces wear and tear on your clothes in addition to saving lots of energy.

For more ideas on how you can make your home or business EnergyWise℠ , as well as for financial incentives to help with the cost of your energy-saving upgrades, contact your local utility.

About Cory Fuehrer

Cory, NPPD Energy Efficiency Program Manager, leads the implementation of balanced energy solutions that meet environmental, efficiency and economic needs. Cory is involved with the EnergyWise℠ energy efficiency programs that assist customers optimize their use of energy in the residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural sectors.