Top tips for energy efficiency in the laundry room

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ February 28, 2012

Your laundry room doesn't have to be a huge energy guzzler. You can affect positive change by switching to new appliances, and by changing your washing and drying habits. The Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) reports that you will use 37 percent less energy and 50 percent less water by switching to an ENERGYSTAR-rated washing machine. That's 37 percent less carbon dioxide emissions your home pumps into the ecosystem.

According to ASE, doing the laundry adds up to 6 percent of your total energy use. New generation machines have been rated by consumer evangelist Top Ten USA. The non-profit organization evaluated top and front-loading machines of all sizes and capacities. The machines were ranked by how much water they used and both washers and dryers were ranked by energy use.

The most-efficient washers in the large-capacity category were the Kenmore LG, Electrolux EIFLS60, Electrolux EWFLS70, Frigidaire FAFS4474 and Whirlpool WFW97HEX. View the rest of the winners at Top Ten USA.

Green building today includes selecting energy efficient laundry appliances. If you're shopping for a dryer, look for a model with a moisture sensor feature. The machine stops as soon as the clothes are dry. You'll save energy and save your clothing from an unnecessary beating.

Going green in the laundry room

Even if you don't change out your appliances, you can still take steps to cut energy and water use with your existing setup. First, stop heating your wash water. The ASE reports that 90 percent of the laundry energy use comes from heating water. There are soap products on the market specifically created for cold washing. New formulations for cold water detergents require less additives, too. Always use a cold water rinse.

Wait for a full load. The machine will use the same amount of energy whether the tub is filled or not. If you do use a smaller load, be sure to set water levels accordingly. If you have a high-spin setting, by all means use it to save energy on drying.

Be smart about drying. Auto-dry settings tend to dry clothes adequately. By using a timed-dry you can waste a lot of energy on clothing that has already dried. Separate heavy items from light ones before packing the dryer. Why use energy to spin dried light items around when the dryer is filled with wet towels? Use a drying rack for clothes that can air dry inside your home. Clean your lint filter ever EVERY wash and check the outdoor vent to see that air flows freely.

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