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Save Money and Lower Your Electric Bill While Doing Laundry

Updated on January 3, 2012

Here's another hub with information that I used while working for my local Community Action Agency. This hub contains information to help you conserve energy while doing your laundry!

Almost every time I hunch over to transfer wet clothes from my washer to my dryer, I keep myself from groaning by picturing the women who spent hours every week doing laundry before the convenient invention of a machine to do it for them! I even think of my time in Ecuador, when I would sometimes walk over the bridge and see dozens of women sitting in the river washing their families' clothes by hand. Boy, am I glad to be a woman in the time and place that I am right now!

Still, as convenient as this machinery is, it is quite energy consuming. Here are some tips to save money and conserve energy while washing, drying, and ironing!

An old washing machine!
An old washing machine! | Source

Tip #1- Wash only full loads.

Sure, sometimes, you just need that one pair of nice pants to be cleaned really quick, so you run an entire load for them. But for usual laundry, it is much better to do a full load than one or two pieces of clothing. Sort clothes and schedule laundering so you can wash only full loads. It takes almost as much electricity to run a small load as it does a full one, and it is better for the machine to have a full load during the spin cycle so it doesn't fly off balance.

#2- Use cold water.

Put the temperature selector on cold or warm. Every once in a while you may have a load that require warm water, but tests show that cold water detergents are very effective for cleaning fabric in cold water. Hot water isn't always necessary, and nixing it can save you a bundle on your heating bill. Make sure you rinse on cold, too!

#3- Follow the directions on the detergent bottle.

Think "Less is more". Use the amount of laundry detergent that the manufacturer recommends. Using more detergent than necessary actually gets in the way of effective cleansing of the fabrics, which will then require an extra rinse cycle, which uses more energy and water.

Laundry Starch Advertisement
Laundry Starch Advertisement | Source

#4- Don't overload or underload your dryer.

Dry a full load in your dryer, but don't overload. It uses way to much energy, and it causes excessive wrinkling, which in turn may force you to iron your clothes, using even more energy. If you really want to save, just don't use a dryer at all, or save it for fashion emergencies.

#5-Don't over-dry.

Set the timer on your dryer for the minimum time needed to dry your clothes. You can always add an extra ten or fifteen minutes at the end, but over-drying wastes energy and harms fabrics. Double-whammy!

#6- Take out your clothes as soon as the dryer stops.

Takes out your clothes and fold them or hang them up right away, before wrinkles have time to set it. This will cut out the need for ironing, which saves electricity and your time.

Doing laundry, washing machines
Doing laundry, washing machines | Source

#7- Clean the lint trap every time.

My sister never does this, and it drives me up a wall. I don't know if she forgets, or if she is just lazy, but this bad habit wastes a lot of energy! Don't forget to clean the lint filter after each and every drying cycle! Educate the members of your household, and make a friendly sign and post it on the dryer door if you think that will help.

#8- Location, location, location!

If possible, try to set up your dryer in a place that is ventilated with fresh, dry air. Humid air circulating through the machine increases drying time and energy needed. Make sure the vent for the humid dryer air is well secured. At one point, ours was allowing hot, humid air to escape so that the laundry room became a steam room.

#9- Iron your clothes efficiently.

Instead of letting your iron sit while it heats up, iron clothes that require a cooler iron first, and work up to the clothes that require a higher heat. Remember that your iron heats faster than it cools, so it's quicker to iron from low-heat to high-heat than the reverse. Which leads me to our last tip...

#10- Turn off the iron.

Go ahead and turn off the iron a few minutes before your finish. The iron takes a while to cool, so you'll be able to complete the last bunch of your clothes with the heat remaining. Also, turn off the iron when your work is interrupted so you don't end up leaving it on for hours.

A woman doing laundry the old fashioned way. Thank god for modern times!
A woman doing laundry the old fashioned way. Thank god for modern times! | Source

Comments

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    • stephaniedas profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Das 

      5 years ago from Miami, US

      @whowas- You've got a good system going there for you. Not only do you save money, you make your carbon footprint that much smaller. If only everyone were so mindul, I think we could make some good progress :) Thank you for commenting and sharing.

    • profile image

      whowas 

      5 years ago

      All good tips there that will certainly help to reduce the amount of energy consumed during washing and drying.

      We got rid of our washing machine some time ago now. I take the washing in to the community 'launderette' in my bicycle trailer. The machines there are huge and efficient and can be set to wash in cold, or only just warm water. On balance, they use less electricity than a series of loads in a conventional household machine.

      The clothes are then dried in the wind, hung outdoors or on a Dutch rail above the wood-burning stove. We have an old fashioned 'iron' - literally an iron that is placed on the range to heat up - that is used for the ironing. It works a treat and as the stove is lit anyway for cooking and water and so on, uses up no extra energy.

      I know not everyone can have the luxury of dispensing with modern luxuries -0 if you are in an apartment block it could be tricky to have a wood-burning range - but a little creativity and planning can always help save energy, as your excellent article amply demonstrates. :)

    • stephaniedas profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Das 

      6 years ago from Miami, US

      Yes, I am going down the laminated poster route so that there is always a reminder. Let's face it, there are so many rules about this stuff to remember that the poster would be a huge help.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      Your hub is full of great money-saving ideas and I will keep these in mind. I should make a laminated poster to hang next to the washer and dryer for others to follow. I learned that my HE appliances use less soap in general and this is also a money saver for us. Thanks for sharing.

    • stephaniedas profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Das 

      6 years ago from Miami, US

      Thanks for the votes, Alocsin. I hope you find them helpful. Of course, where you're located you don't have to worry as much about the high winter heating bill, but it makes sense to save energy no matter what. Man, what am I doing here in the frigid mid-Atlantic when there are excellent climates elsewhere in the county?

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Excellent suggestions. I'm going to try as much of this as possible next time I do laundry. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • stephaniedas profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Das 

      6 years ago from Miami, US

      Thank you, elle64. I'm with you on that. Hanging laundry outside saves money and can be a pleasant experience.

    • elle64 profile image

      elle64 

      6 years ago from Scandinavia

      Very good tips- when the weather is good- like to hang it outside.

    • stephaniedas profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Das 

      6 years ago from Miami, US

      @hush4444- Thanks for the nice comment. Go ahead and print it out...we had similar lists posted in the laundry room at the shelter at Community Action! All the little things add up. Something that I like to do is figure out how much I'm under my average and use those savings to buy something nice for myself, like go out to dinner with my boyfriend or buy a new gadget for the house.

      @ Rochell Frank- It ate your clothes? That is awful! I hadn't heard of that before. Those newer washing machines are way more energy and water efficient than the older ones, and you're right, drying better in the spin cycle leaves little work for the dryer. My uncle just got a new one that he says leaves his clothes practically dry. Thanks for the input!

      @Cat R- I hope some of these tips can be especially useful for you, since you are dealing with the expenses of a lot of people! Thanks for leaving a nice comment.

      @Frugalfamily- I know, it can be hard to break old habits! You just have to repeat yourself, I guess. Good luck and thanks for commenting.

      @Esmeowl12- Hey, I hadn't thought of it, but that is a good excuse not to iron. I'm with you-- I save it for necessary times, but I do avoid it by taking my clothes out of the dryer very quickly. Thanks for the extra tip :)

    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A Johnson 

      6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      Great tips! I save money by not ironing. Ha, ha. Well, hardly ever.

    • frugalfamily profile image

      Brenda Trott, M.Ed 

      6 years ago from Houston, TX

      Great tips! The less is more is a tough one when you let others do laundry:)

    • Cat R profile image

      Cat R 

      6 years ago from North Carolina, U.S.

      I need to take some of these things into consideration. Having a large family does damage to my electric bill!

      Very interesting!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      6 years ago from California Gold Country

      After 29 years of faithful service, my old washer got hungry and started eating my clothes. I recently got a new high efficiency machine (NOT one of the highest priced ones). It does a much better job of cleaning the clothes, uses much less water, takes less time per load--- and something I didn't expect-- spins much drier than my old one did. It takes less than half the time to dry clothes now-- and that's in the old dryer. When the weather warms up I will be hanging some things on the line to dry.

    • hush4444 profile image

      hush4444 

      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Great hub - I'm tempted to print it out and post it over my dryer! I really enjoyed the pictures and illustrations, too. Little changes can make such a huge difference when it comes to energy costs.

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