The latest spin on washer and dryer energy efficiency

The average American family washes about 400 loads of laundry each year – that’s 7.7 loads of laundry per week. Depending on power and water charges, the average load costs about $1.50 per load to both wash and dry.

As of January 1, 2018, newly-manufactured clothes washers will be more energy and water efficient. The newer models also tend to be bigger, cheaper and provide better cleaning performance.

The 2018 standards for residential clothes washers will reduce energy use by 18 percent and water use by 23 percent. The standards for front-loading washers haven’t changed and remain at 43 percent energy use reduction and 52 percent water reduction.

In the 1990s, typical washers used 40 gallons of water. Today’s washers use between 10 and 15 gallons per load. If you are in the market for a new washing machine, Energy Star certified machines use about 70 percent less energy and 75 percent less water than models from 20 years ago.

Most expenses in the laundry room come from heating water or air for washing and drying. With 90 percent of the cost going towards heating water, only 10 percent goes towards the electricity needed to run the motor. Here are several ways you can save money and reduce energy, while still ensuring your clothes come out smelling fresh and clean.

You can save a bundle by using cold water to wash your clothes. This can also help reduce the risk of your clothes shrinking, or the colors fading. Washing in cold water costs about 5 cents per load, as compared to 70 cents per load in hot or warm water.

It costs just as much money and uses just as much electricity to wash a small amount as it does a full load. Find a way to include other articles of clothing when you need to wash the sports shirt that needs cleaned prior to game time.

The spin cycle is used to wring out the clothes to get rid of excess water and prepare them for the dryer. The faster the spin, the more dry they will become. Choose the fastest spin cycle for your loads, as this can reduce the drying time needed. The less time needed to heat air, the more money you can save with each load.
Clothes dryers have a reputation for being energy hogs. Average dryers use between 2.79 and 9.25 kWh per cycle. There are several ways to improve efficiencies when using your dryer.

Clean your lint filter before or after every load. The more lint builds up in the filter, the harder the dryer fan has to work to pump air through the filter. A clean filter improves air circulation and increases the efficiency of the dryer. It’s also an important safety measure.

If you use dryer sheets, they leave a film on the filter that reduces air flow and, over time, can impact the performance of the motor. Use a toothbrush to scrub the lint filter at least one a month for maximum efficiency.

Just like the wash cycle, it is important that you only run the dryer when it is full and don’t mix fast and slow drying items. Thick towels and sheets take longer than T-shirts, so it’s best to dry like things together.

If your dryer has a moisture sensor, use it instead of the timed dry feature. The dryer will shut off when it senses laundry is dry. Not only will this save energy, but it will also save wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.

If at all possible, move your dryer to an outside wall, so exhaust air will have less distance to travel. Also, consider moving your dryer to a warm location. Cold air falls, so a dryer in your basement isn’t as efficient as a dryer in a warmer space.

Installing a dryer vent seal to prevent cold air from leaking down into the dryer is another good idea. If your dryer feels really cold when you open it in the winter to put in a load, you definitely can benefit from a dryer vent seal.


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