Energy Saving Tips

Laundry Tips for Maximum Energy Savings

There are a number of easy ways to save energy with laundry, whether you’re buying new appliances or not. Follow these suggestions whenever possible to keep energy use to a minimum. In most cases, practices that save energy also extend the life of your clothes.

Optimize Load Size

It is important not to underload or overload either your washer or dryer. Most people tend to underload their washers rather than overload —particularly with conventional top-loaders — to make sure all the clothes are covered with water. Try to load your washer to its full capacity whenever possible without overloading. If you overload, clothes may not get clean, and you may end up washing the load a second time.

If you are unsure about the size of a load, check your machine’s load capacity in pounds, then use a household scale to weigh out a few loads of laundry to get a sense of how much laundry 10 or 18 or 20 pounds represents. Then use your eye to judge the volume of clothes for a load. Washing one large load will take less energy than washing two loads on a low or medium setting.

Also dry full loads when possible, but be careful not to overfill the dryer.

Drying small loads wastes energy, while overloading causes wrinkling and uneven drying. Air should be able to circulate freely around the clothes as they tumble. If your washer and dryer are properly matched, a full washer load will be about the right size for the dryer as well.

Use Lower Temperature Settings

Use cold water for the wash cycle instead of warm or hot (except for greasy stains), and only use cold for rinses. Experiment with different laundry detergents to find one that works well with cooler water. By presoaking heavily soiled clothes, a cooler wash temperature may be fine. The temperature of the rinse water does not affect cleaning, so always set the washer on cold water rinse.

Lower temperature settings can also save dryer energy. Recent research shows that new dryers use significantly less energy to dry most typical loads on low heat than on high heat, even though the dryer runs longer. If you aren’t in a rush, let the clothes run longer on low heat. This will save energy and is gentler on clothes.

Use Energy-Saving Features

If your dryer has a setting for auto-dry, be sure to use it instead of the timer to avoid wasting energy and overdrying, which can cause shrinkage, generate static electricity, and shorten the life of your clothes.

While You Dry

If you have the means of air-drying your laundry, this will save energy and wear and tear on your clothes! Enjoy the fresh air while hanging clothes on the line and use totally free solar energy for drying. If this isn’t feasible, consider these quick tips:

Separate fabrics. Dry similar types of clothes together. Lightweight synthetics, for example, dry much more quickly than bath towels and natural fibers. Don’t add wet items to a load that is already partially dried.

Dry two or more loads in a row. This takes advantage of the heat still in the dryer from the first load.

Try dryer balls. Increase air circulation and decrease drying time by purchasing dryer balls that bounce around with the clothes and fluff them as you dry. They can be reused indefinitely and are a chemical-free replacement for dryer sheets.

Proper Dryer Maintenance

Clean the dryer filter after each use. A clogged filter will restrict airflow and reduce dryer performance.

Check the outside dryer exhaust vent. If you have a conventional exhaust vent, make sure it is clean and that the flapper on the outside hood opens and closes freely. If the flapper stays open, cold air will blow into your house through the dryer and increase heating costs. Better yet, replace the outside dryer vent hood with one that seals tightly.