Adapted from Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings,
by Alex Wilson, Jennifer Thorne, and John Morrill
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.
* Use lower temperature settings. Use warm or cold water for the wash cycle instead of 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 washing machine on cold water rinse.
* Turn down the thermostat on your water heater. A setting of 120 F is adequate for most home needs. By reducing your hot water temperature, you will save energy with either hot or warm wash cycles.
* Load the washing machine to capacity when possible. Most people tend to underload rather than overload their washers. Check your machine's load capacity in pounds, then weigh out a few loads of laundry to get a sense of how much laundry 10 or 18 to 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.
* If washing lightly soiled clothes, use the suds-saving feature if it's available on your washing machine. This saves the was water to be reused in the next load. Only use this feature, though, if the second load is to be washed right away.
* When drying, separate your clothes and dry similar types of clothes together. Lightweight synthetics, for example, dry much more quickly than bath towels and natural fiber clothes.
* Don't overdry clothes. Take clothes out while they are still slightly damp to reduce the need for ironing - another big energy user. If your dryer has a setting for auto-dry, be sure to use it instead of the timer to avoid wasting energy.
* Don't add wet items to a load that is already partially dried.
* Dry two or more loads in a row, taking advantage of the heat still in the dryer from the first load.
* Clean the dryer filter after each use. A clogged filter will restrict flow and reduce dryer performance.
* Dry full loads when possible, but be careful not to overfill the dryer. Drying small loads wastes energy. Air should be able to circulate freely around the drying clothes.
* Check the outside dryer exhaust vent. Make sure it is clean and that the flapper on the outside hood opens and closes freely.
* In good weather, consider hanging clothes outside and using totally free solar energy to do the drying.