Save Energy — Laundry Appliances

Laundry may be the one daily chore nobody wants to think much about. However, two of the larger energy consuming appliances are in the laundry room. The clothes washer uses both energy and water especially if you wash in hot water. The clothes dryer is a large heater blowing through your wet clothes.

Your Home Energy Living Plan

Clothes Washer:
  • Wash in the lowest temperature. Use hot water only when needed.
  • Rinse in cold water.
  • Fill tub but do not overload.
  • Adjust water level to load.
  • Use gentle cycle when possible.
  • When buying a new washer, consider front end washers that are Energy Star qualified.
Clothes Dryer:
  • Dry clothes outside on a clothesline.
  • Clean lint filter after every load.
  • Make sure entire vent to the outside is not filled with lint.
  • Do not over dry clothes.
  • Using spin dry features of the washer saves drying time.
  • When buying a new dryer, consider one with a moisture sensor.
Impact of Your Energy Saving Actions

The water heater accounts for 13% of the average US home’s annual utility bill. Of that up to 26% can be due to washing clothes. Therefore, about 3.4% of your utility bill is for washing clothes. Using cold water and prudent use of dryer can drastically lower this percentage.

How Energy is Lost

Clothes washer uses the hot water from your water heater. Most of the energy use for the clothes washer is actually consumed at the water heater, about 80 to 90%. Top load washers have tubs which can use 45 to 60 gallons of water per load. Front end washers us only about 17-26 gallons. If hot water is selected on the washer, then most of the above water comes from the hot water connection to your water heater. The washer also has an electric motor to spin the tub (drum) and agitator; also there is a pump.

The clothes dryer has an electric or gas heater to dry the clothes. These heaters can be quite large, electric dryers require a 240 volt connection in the US. Most of the energy goes into the heater. There is also a fan to pull air through the drying and out through a vent. A motor also turns the drum.

There are other laundry functions which use energy. The use of clothes irons are declining in our fast pace permanent press world but they do use energy when used. Irons can pull 1000 to 1800 watts. A sink may be used to aid in stain removal. Any use of hot water will use energy at the water heater.

Energy Solutions Explained

The major factor in energy use of clothes washers is water temperature. Try using warm water instead of hot water. Use cold water for colors and delicates. Rinsing can be with cold water. There is no advantage to rinse with warm or hot water.

There is little control over the heat used by the clothes dryer. Simply do not run the dryer when it is not needed. A moisture sensor will sense when clothes are dry, this prevents over drying of the clothes.

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