How to Save Energy When Doing Laundry
Do you know how much energy goes into doing the laundry?
In 2018, Americans used 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to wash clothes. Another 60 billion kilowatt-hours were used to dry them, meaning about 10% of electricity consumed at home is used for washing and drying laundry.1
Federal regulators have pressured manufacturers to reduce energy consumption. For example, dryers with an increased spin speed draw more water out of clothes, so run for a shorter time. However, good habits can also reduce your energy bill, from purchasing Energy Star rated appliances to adjusting temperature settings.
Best Time to Wash Clothes
Energy usage will remain the same no matter when you wash your clothes. But many utility companies charge more for electricity during peak hours. Rather than doing on-peak washes, set aside time during off-peak hours, which are after 7:00 p.m. and before noon in most locations. Do the laundry early in the morning during the summer and late at night in the winter. Running your heat-emitting dryer at night also reduces the demand on your HVAC system, as temperatures are lower.
Hacks for Saving Money & Energy When Doing Laundry
To cut electricity usage and lower your monthly bill:
- Use Cold Water When Possible: Washers use roughly 90% of their energy to heat cold water.2 Just by using warm instead of hot water, you can cut energy consumption in half. Lower temperatures can also prevent clothes from shrinking or losing dye.
- Boost the Spin Speed: If you can adjust spin speed, set it higher to reduce the dry cycle. This also reduces the water retained by your clothing.
- Increase Load Size: The same amount of mechanical energy will be used regardless of the size of your loads. Why not get more out of the electricity you are using? This can result in less frequent washes, which saves energy.
- Collect Grey Water from the Machine: Instead of wasting this extra water, save it to irrigate plants, as it contains essential nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen. Treated grey water can even be used for flushing the toilet or washing.
- Line Dry Clothes: Air drying clothes doesn’t use any electricity at all, so just hang them up on a clothesline outside and let mother nature do the job for you.
- Use a High-Efficiency (HE) Detergent: The suds in traditional detergent can force a washing machine to work harder, drawing more energy and possibly causing mechanical problems. HE detergents are more compatible with modern water-saving machines.
- Separate and Dry Similar Clothes Together: Wash and dry similar materials, as some dry more quickly than others. Separate heavy from light fabrics as well to reduce dry time, which can also be accomplished using a machine with a moisture sensor.
- Place the Dryer Near an Outside Wall: Relocate the dryer in the laundry room so it’s closer to the exhaust. Therefore, exhaust air travels a smaller distance, improving air circulation and reducing energy consumption.
- Use Smooth Ducts: More energy is required to push air through flexible ducts; smooth surfaces produce less turbulence, and thus reduce the energy needed to exhaust air.
- Clean the Lint Trap: The lint trap or filter should be cleaned after every dry cycle. It improves airflow and efficiency and reduces the risk of fire.
- Use a Heat Pump Dryer: The presence of a heat exchanger means the dryer can be ventless, suiting it for tighter spaces. It also recycles the energy used for heating/cooling.