These days, finding a high-efficiency washer and dryer that can use half the gas or electricity as a standard is easy. Today’s high-efficiency washers also extract more water during the spinning cycle, reducing the drying time. Also, compare a full-sized standard washing machine’s 40 gallons of water per load to 18 gallons for Energy Star certified machines. That’s a big difference!
Newer, more efficient dryers don’t quite pack the same savings as new washing machines, but their benefits do add up. Think of it this way: dryers in the U.S. use the equivalent of 58 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, or as much electricity as Los Angeles uses annually. Naturally, the best defense against this kind of wasted energy is to dry clothes on a line outside, or by putting them on drying racks indoors.
Whether you’re working with energy-efficient equipment or older, energy-guzzling equipment, these guidelines can help lower your environmental impact and your energy bills:
- Wash less often – Certain garments don’t need to be washed after every use, such as jeans and sweaters. Sadly, there’s not much we can do about our socks and underwear.
- Only run full loads – Wait until you have enough laundry to fill the washer and dryer to capacity before running them. On the other hand, over-filling is counterproductive and requires more energy to complete the cycle.
- Air dry if possible – The sun is the best dryer around. It’ll leave your clothes crisp and smelling fresh, and it’s absolutely free. For those in colder or wetter climates, drying racks are also effective – and free.
- Wash in cold water – Almost 90% of the energy used for washing clothes results from heating the water. Unless you’re trying to remove a very tough stain, cold water should work just fine.
Adjust water levels – If you absolutely need to have something washed but don’t have enough clothes for a full load, adjust the setting on the washer to the smallest water amount.