Since the Horrible Electric Rate Increase happened in our area, my husband and I have been trying really hard to reduce the amount of electricity we use. We figure there’s nothing we can really do about the rate we pay, so our only recourse is to be careful with our usage. One way we’ve done this is by making some changes to the way we do laundry(actually, to the way I do laundry! I don’t let my husband do laundry, because I’m sort of picky about it.)
Here are a few ways that I save money while using my washing maching.
1. I wash full loads. I don’t have any solid numbers on this, but I know it’s more efficient to wash 3 pounds of laundry in one large load than it is to wash two 1.5 pound loads. This might be a little difficult to manage if you’re single, but with the six of us that live here, it’s rarely a problem to come up with a whole load of laundry. Still, though, since 85-90% of your washer’s electricity usage comes from heating the water, this tip won’t save you nearly as much as the next one.
2. I wash almost everything in cold water. According to Michael Bluejay’s electricity site, 7.5 loads a week in a cold/cold cycle costs $10 a year, whereas 7.5 loads a week done in a hot/cold cycle costs $155 per year(using warm/cold costs $83 a year). This assumes 10 cents per kilowatt hour, which is a tad less than what I pay, but regardless of how much you pay per kilowatt hour, the comparison here is useful. The bottom line is that using hot water costs 15 times as much as using cold water.
I read on Michael Bluejay’s site that by using hot water in your laundry, you use more electricity than you would by keeping your refrigerator door open 24 hours a day. So, washing in cold water is at least worth some consideration. If you can’t bear to give up the heated water altogether, try washing at least some of your dark loads in cold water, or try using warm water instead of hot.
Now, for two objections:
Cold water doesn’t get my clothes clean. I know that some people use hot water because they feel it cleans better, but I’ve not had any trouble getting our clothes clean while using this method. If you do have trouble, try letting your clothes soak in the washing machine(I do this by leaving the lid open…at a certain point in the cycle, it won’t run any longer and it just sits until I shut the lid). I’ve not scientifically tested this, but from what I’ve read, I’ve gathered that soaking is one of the most effective means of removing stains. I also try to pretreat any particularly bad stains with something like Spray n Wash or Shout, and that usually takes care of them.
Cold water won’t kill germs and bacteria. While I’m sure that hot water kills some of these off, I can say that none of us have gotten any sort of disease from my laundry practices. In fact, we’re a pretty healthy bunch! If I was washing cloth diapers, I’d probably use warm or hot water, but as it is, none of our laundry is terribly germ-infested to begin with and so I use cold, with nary an ill effect.
So, give it a try! You’ll save a pretty decent amount of money, plus your clothes won’t be so prone to shrinking or fading.