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Saving Electricity When Doing Laundry

By Bruce of Stone Marmot

Feb. 5, 2013

Here are some tips for saving electricity when you do the laundry:

  • Wait until you have a full load to do laundry. This is probably the most important tip. Many Americans do the laundry way too often, to the point of obsession. In many households, laundry is being done daily or every other day. And often there are only a few items in each load. If you run out of clean clothes after a day or two, maybe you need to buy more clothes.

  • Don't be afraid to wear clothes more than once before washing them. Items are often worn for a couple of hours and then thrown into the laundry. Items don't need to be washed unless they are dirty or sweaty. Underclothes, which tend to be exposed to the most sweat and body oils, usually need to be washed after wearing one or two days. But overclothes, such as shirts and pants, usually don't need to be washed as often unless they are worn in dirty or sweaty environments. For many people with desk jobs who almost never leave an air conditioned space, overclothes can be worn many days before needing to be washed.

  • Front loading washers tend to use less energy and water.

  • Set controls for the shortest time necessary to do job.

  • Wash and rinse with cold water. Most modern laundry detergents are designed to be used in cold water. Using hot water with these detergents has little or no benefit and just wastes energy.

  • Don't use an electric dryer. Electric clothes dryers, along with the electric stove and oven, space heating and air conditioning, and the water heater, are the items that use the most electricity in a typical household. Hang clothes on a clothesline or drying rack instead, if possible.

  • If you use an electric dryer, put it in the garage, not in an air conditioned room. A dryer heats up whatever space it is in. If it is in an air conditioned space, it is just causing your air conditioner to run harder and longer.

  • Vent the dryer outside. Get that heat and humidity out of the house or garage.

  • Use as short and straight a vent pipe as possible. This save energy a couple ways. One is that the air flows easier in a short, straight pipe, reducing the load on the dryer blower. But also, the less pipe you have, the less heat that is being radiated by the hot air in the pipe into the space where the dryer is located.

  • Clean lint from lint trap before each use of dryer. This lint add resistance to the air flow through the dryer vent, making the blower work harder. The lint is also a fire hazard.

  • Keep vent pipe path clean of lint for the same reasons as the item above.

  • Remove items from washer and dryer as soon as load is finished. Many modern washers and dryers remain in a higher energy mode until they detect the door has been opened after the complete wash or dryer cycle is finished.

  • Unplug the washer and dryer when they are not being used. For some stupid reason, many modern washers and dryers draw a little bit of power all the time when plugged in, whether they are on or off.

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