Energy Efficiency in the Laundry Room

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ August 9, 2010

Unless you ship your bedding, towels, and clothing items off to the dry cleaners, you're going to have to use water in your laundry room. If you're an energy and water-conscious consumer, there are ways to reduce your water use and still come out clean in the end.

First, if your water bills are excessively high, you may need professional help to diagnose a laundry room flooding problem. If there are no leaks, then you may have an old washer that's an energy and water guzzler. But before we tackle buying a replacement appliance, let's look at your current washing habits.

One way to cut your operating costs is to change the habit of using hot water to clean all your clothing. Some 90 percent of the energy use in washing goes to heating water. Reserve that privilege for essentials like underwear and towels. Find a laundry detergent that does the job nicely in warm or cold water. Depending on where you live, you might go old school and dry your clothes outdoors on warm, sunny days. Household Essentials sells a five-line retractable clothes dryer that you can mount indoors or outdoors and hang your garments to dry. If you haven't dried clothes outdoors, you're missing the fresh smell that comes without dryer strips.

Smart Washing and Drying

Old habits die hard, but you can save water and energy by waiting until you have a full load before running the washer. You don't save energy by washing small loads. Keep your dryer energy efficient by cleaning the lint filter after each load. And follow the dryer vent to where it exits your home and clean the balls of lint that can accumulate there.

If you really want to upgrade to a green machine, consider your laundry room as part of a home energy efficiency system. The Daily Green reports that new EnergyStar washers use "50% less energy and water, saving $110 a year."

If your washer is more than a decade old, chances are good that you're wasting resources. The average family, according to EnergyStar, does 400 loads of laundry every year. During the life of a new EnergyStar-compliant washer you'd save enough money to pay for an EnergyStar dryer.

What's new about these modern washers is they don't use a water-gobbling central agitator. And the newer models have motors that spin your clothes up to three times faster than older ones, which cuts your drying time.

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