If yours is an average family, you wash 400 loads of laundry each year, using 40 gallons per load with a traditional top-loading washer. But switch to an Energy Star front loader and cut your per-load water use to 25 gallons and cut your energy costs of the same laundry by about a third.
Even more startling, that Energy Star washer can save enough money over its lifetime to pay for a matching dryer. The water savings could fill three backyard swimming pools!
If your washer is more than 10 years old, a new Energy Star top-loader could save $135 each year in your electric bill. So why is a top-loader more efficient? For one, the tub the clothes sit in rotates, and the clothes inside tumble in less water. They also spin clothes faster, resulting in dryer clothes even before you put them in a dryer or better yet hang them out to dry.
Here are some washing and drying best tips:
- Use a “high-efficiency” detergent with front-loading washers. Regular detergent creates too much suds, which can affect the machine’s performance.
- Look for plant-based detergents and non-chlorine-bleach products made from sodium percarbonate or sodium perborate.
- Wash a full load – regardless of size of load -- the washer uses about the same amount of energy.
- Wash in cold water – water heating consumes about 90 percent of the energy to operate the washer.
- Avoid the sanitary cycle, which uses super-hot water.
- Leave the door open after use on front-loading washers to avoid mold buildup.
- Rinse the washer every month with 1 cup of bleach to help reduce mold or mildew.
- Dry clothes on a rack or outside.
If you must use a dryer:
- Buy one with a moisture sensor option on the dryer, which automatically turns off the dryer when clothes are dry.
- Clean the lint filter after every load to improve air circulation and increase efficiency
- Scrub the lint filter regularly if you use dryer sheets to remove any film.
- Dry only full loads and dry two or more loads in a row to take advantage of residual heat.
- Use the cool-down cycle or perma-press cycle to allow clothes to finish drying with residual heat.
- Dry lightweight items that take less drying time together vs. mixing them with heavy items.
Remember, clothes dryers aren’t Energy Star rated because the amount of energy they use doesn’t vary much from model to model. But over 18 years, according to the Consumer Energy Center, a dryer can cost as much as $1,530 to operate. Maybe you don’t need a dryer after all….