Laundry is one of life’s unavoidable chores — and it’s a chore that most people do weekly, if not daily. This means that washer and dryer energy usage, coupled with the amount of water used for laundry, can have a direct impact on your energy bills. Choosing the best time to do laundry and following laundry energy-saving tips can reduce your home’s energy consumption.
Understanding how your current habits affect washer energy usage is the first step toward a more energy-efficient laundry system. This includes taking note of whether you wash small vs. large loads of laundry, how often you wash clothing, when you do laundry and other factors.
The handy laundry flowchart below will help you identify your laundry habits. From there, you can adjust how you wash clothes to reduce your washer and dryer energy usage.
A typical family of four in the United States averages 300 loads of laundry annually, which accounts for 15% to 40% of a household’s water consumption. Even if you’re more of a laundry minimalist, perhaps doing only two loads a week, or even one, the reality is that washer energy usage is nevertheless still a big part of any household’s energy costs. Residential laundry machines also use more energy annually than dishwashers, although they use less than refrigerators.
All of this means that knowing the energy cost of a load of laundry could be a savvy step toward potentially lowering your monthly energy costs. Here are some laundry energy-saving tips to get you started.
Washing machine energy consumption depends on whether you have the water temperature set to hot or cold. On the hot setting, 90% of the energy a washing machine consumes is spent heating water and only 10% is used to run the motor. Most clothing can be properly washed on the cold setting, especially when you use cold-water detergents.
Consumer Reports notes that washing your clothes in cold water could save you $60 a year (assuming an average of 300 loads). While that might not sound like a lot, imagine if everyone did that.
Washing in cold water is also more than just a smart laundry energy-saving tip. Lower temperatures can help your clothes last longer by protecting dyes and preventing shrinkage.
The average washing machine needs 350 to 500 watts of electricity per use. If you’re washing two loads of laundry a week, that translates into 36,400 to 52,000 watts each year. A family of four may need to wash 5 or more loads of laundry a week, resulting in annual washer energy usage of up to 130,000 watts or more.
Obviously, part of the cost to run a washing machine comes from heating the water, but washer energy usage can also be affected by the type of washing machine you use. Front-loading machines, for instance, are more energy-efficient than top-loading machines.
Electricity alone doesn’t account for laundry’s impact on available resources. To get a clearer picture, you must ask how much water a washing machine uses. If your washing machine is an older model, it could use up to 41 gallons of water per load. If your washing machine is a newer model, it could use up to 23 gallons per load. So if youwash5 loads of clothes a week, your washing machine could consume 10,660 gallons of water per year if it’s an older model, or 5,980 gallons of water per year if it’s a newer model.
The washer energy usage can also be affected by the type of washing machine. Front-loading machines, for instance, are more energy-efficient than top-loading machines. And front-loading machines use 40-75% less water and 30-85% less energy than typical top-loaders, depending on the machine.
Just as you have to consider how much water a washing machine uses to gain a complete view of laundry’s energy consumption, you also need to think about its counterpart appliance: How much energy does a dryer use?
The average residential clothes dryer requires between 1,800 and 5,000 watts per use, making your dryer energy usage higher than that of your washing machine. Clothes dryers are responsible for approximately 6% of the average house’s energy use.
Switching to a more energy-efficient natural gas dryer can reduce your laundry energy use. Check out more energy-saving facts about your dryer to conserve as much energy as possible.
When you choose to do laundry has an impact on how much energy your washer and dryer consume. The best time to wash clothes to save energy is usually outside peak demand hours. In most locations, this means using your washing machine before 12 p.m., or waiting to wash your clothes until after 7 p.m.
In addition to capitalizing on the best time to do laundry, there are other ways to reduce the energy costs associated with washing and drying clothes.
Regardless of whether you choose a gas or electric dryer, careful operation can cut energy costs and extend the useful life of your appliance. Here are some laundry energy-saving tips:
You’ve learned all about our laundry energy-savings tips. Now get the details on saving energy for lighting, thermostats and showers as well. Plus, check out our fun Energy Hacks videos on washing and drying energy-savings tips.
Whatever your energy needs are, we've got a plan for you
These sustainable Christmas tips will help fully celebrate the holiday in ways that benefit the environment, reduce stress, and are easy on your budget. An eco-friendly Christmas can be free of any bah-humbug, yet will save energy and money with a few thoughtful adjustments in your plans and traditions.
Learn how to install door weatherstripping and you will put an end to energy-wasting drafts. When you look for places to weatherize your home for winter energy savings, door weatherstripping is a great place to start.