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Clothes washers and dryers are among the top energy-consuming appliances, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, but a few changes on laundry day can reduce energy use.
Older models use even more energy, so replacing outdated washers and dryers with new energy-efficient versions can pay off in the long term.
If purchasing new appliances is not an option, there are still ways to make doing laundry more cost-effective. Some of these steps might even extend the life of your clothes.
Wash clothes with cold water. Using cold water means your water heater doesn’t have to work to heat gallons of water. Even using warm water instead of hot can cut a wash load’s energy consumption by half.
Wash only full loads. The appliance uses the same amount of electricity to do a partial load as a full load.
Size dryer loads to the machine. If a dryer is too full or not full enough, it will take longer to dry the clothes.
Air-dry when possible. Skip the dryer altogether and opt to hang laundry outside or on a drying rack to save energy.
Clean the lint filter on the dryer. Cleaning the lint filter allows your dryer to run more efficiently. Remove the lint buildup after every load and scrub the screen monthly to remove dryer sheet buildup.
Switch out loads while the dryer is still warm. Not allowing the dryer to cool down between loads makes use of residual heat and means the dryer does not have to work as hard to heat up again.
Use dryer balls. Dryer balls, made of wool or rubber, bounce around in the dryer and help separate clothes so air can dry them faster. They also reduce static, helping reduce the need for dryer sheets.
Use lower temperatures and the cool-down setting on the dryer. Drying with a cooler temperature saves money even if the dryer runs longer. The cool-down setting allows clothes to continue drying with residual heat.
Dry heavy materials separately from lighter materials. Light material takes less time to dry so it’s inefficient to combine them with items made of heavy materials such as jeans or towels.
Use the moisture sensor option on the dryer if yours has one. The sensor shuts off the machine as soon as the clothes are dry.