About 90 percent of the energy consumed by your washing machine is used just to heat the water. By switching to cold water for many of your loads, especially those with dark or bright colors and delicates like silk or wool will not only save you money, it will also keep colors bright, reduce wrinkling and help to prevent stains from setting.
If you find that your regular detergent isn’t cleaning effectively enough with your cold-water loads, look for cold-water detergents that are specifically made to get clothes clean in cooler temperatures.
And if you can’t make the change to cold water for all your loads, even switching from hot water to warm water can cut a load’s energy use in half.
Your washer and dryer use the same amount of mechanical energy, regardless of how full they are, so the best way to save energy is to run full loads of laundry.
If you need to run a smaller load in the washing machine, be sure to use the appropriate water-level setting.
Take advantage of your washer and dryer’s energy-saving settings – like the washing machine’s “high spin” option, which cuts down on drying time. Avoid running the sanitary cycle, which uses energy by heating the water to excessively high temperatures. Also, be sure not to wash items for longer than you need to; many loads only need 10 minutes of washing to be cleaned effectively.
When you’re drying clothes, select the low temperature setting for delicates and medium heat for most clothes. Use your machine’s moisture sensor, if it has one, to prevent over-drying your clothes, which shrinks clothes, causes static electricity and generally wears clothes out.
Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight, faster-drying clothes. Do back-to-back loads to take advantage of residual heat, starting with a load of fast-drying fabrics.
After each load, clean the lint screen in your dryer to improve air circulation, reduce drying time and prevent fires. Also, inspect your dryer vent from time to time to ensure it is not blocked; this precautionary measure will also save energy and prevent fires.
Toss a clean, dry towel or tennis ball into the dryer to get clothes to dry quicker, the Alliance suggests. The towel absorbs moisture, while the tennis ball helps circulate air between clothes.
Purchase an indoor drying rack for delicate fabrics and silks. You can also use the drying rack for “almost-dry” clothes, rather than running the dryer for additional time.
When it’s time to replace your old washing machine, look for washers with the Energy Star label. Energy Star washing machines use energy and water than their conventional counterparts – which can save you hundreds of dollars over the life of the machine.
While Energy Star does not certify clothes dryers because most of them use similar amounts of energy, look for a dryer with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry.