by Abby Berry, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
Your clothes washer and dryer account for a significant portion of energy consumption from major appliances, and let’s face it—laundry is no one’s favorite chore. Make the most of your laundry energy use!
There are several easy ways you can save energy (and money) in the laundry room. The Department of Energy recommends the following tips for saving on suds:
1. Wash with cold water. Switching from warm water to cold water can cut one load’s energy use by more than half, and by using a cold-water detergent, you can still achieve that brilliant clean you’d normally get from washing in warm water.
2. Wash full loads when possible. Your washing machine will use the same amount of energy no matter the size of the clothes load, so fill it up if you can.
3. Use the high-speed or extended spin cycle in the washer. This setting will remove more moisture before drying, reducing your drying time and the extra wear on clothing.
4. Dry heavier cottons separately. Loads will dry faster and more evenly if you separate heavier cottons like linens and towels from your lightweight clothing.
5. Make use of the “cool down” cycle. If your dryer has this cycle option, you can save energy because the clothes will finish drying with the remaining heat in the dryer.
6. Use lower heat settings to dry clothing. Regardless of drying time, you’ll still use less energy.
7. Use dryer balls. Dryer balls, usually wool or rubber, will help keep clothes separated for faster drying, and they can help reduce static, so you can eliminate dryer sheets.
8. Switch loads while the dryer is warm. This allows you to take advantage of the remaining heat from the previous cycle.
9. Clean the lint filter after each drying cycle. If you use dryer sheets, remember to scrub the filter once a month with a toothbrush to remove excess buildup.
10. Purchase Energy Star®-rated washers and dryers. When it’s time to purchase a new washer or dryer, look for the Energy Star label. New washers and dryers that receive the Energy Star rating use about 20% less energy than conventional models.
To learn about additional ways you can save energy at home, visit Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric’s website, www.swce.coop, or the Department of Energy’s home efficiency page, www.energy.gov/energysaver.