High-efficiency washers, dryers load big savings
More than nine-tenths of households have a clothes washer. Energy-efficient models account for more than one-third of all washers sold. Over its lifetime, an energy-efficient washer can save its owner up to $600.
Heating the water accounts for up to 90 percent of the energy a washer uses, so you’d do well to use cold water for most washing and all rinsing.
Your dryer is likely to be your home’s most expensive labor-saving appliance, so choose and use it carefully. ENERGY STAR, a government-backed program that promotes energy efficiency, rates washers but not dryers.
Care keeps dryers tumbling
Typically, a dryer uses either electricity or gas to heat the air flowing through an electrically powered drying chamber.
The choice of electric or gas power has less impact on energy consumption than whether a dryer has an automatic dryness sensor and turn-off feature, and whether the owner uses it. This feature saves energy, prevents shrinkage and static electricity, and lengthens clothes’ usable life.
Drying multiple loads in quick succession enables you to take advantage of residual heat.
Keep the dryer lint-free and vent it so air can circulate freely. Clean the lint filter after each load and occasionally wash it with a nylon brush and soapy water. Clean the vent system at least once every two years.
Vent your dryer outside unless it is a condenser-type designed for unvented operation. Use rigid or semi-rigid sheet metal venting material, the shortest, straightest vent length possible, and a louvered or box-style hood on the outside vent opening.
Front-loading washers are energy, water misers
Study ENERGY STAR labels to determine which washers require less water, electricity, and drying energy. Look for a high MEF (Modified Energy Factor) and a low WF (Water Factor).
Consider a front-loading washer. It’s likely to be more energy efficient than traditional top-loaders with agitators. A good front-loader can save more than 5,000 gallons of water a year. Its horizontal-axis basket lifts and drops clothes into the water, and it spins clothes at double or triple the speed of a top-loader, removing more water and cutting drying time.
Front-loading washers that earn an ENERGY STAR rating typically rinse clothes by repeated high-pressure spraying rather than agitation in a fresh tub of water. Spray rinsing saves water and energy.
A washer’s energy use is almost directly proportional to its hot water use. A hot wash and warm rinse costs five to 10 times as much as a cold wash and rinse, so wash in hot or warm water only to remove greasy stains, and always rinse cold.
You’ll generally save energy by running one large load instead of two medium loads. Most people tend to underload their washers.