We have two kids, which means we do a lot of laundry—it never ends! What are some ways we can reduce our energy use in the laundry room?—Frank
The easiest way to improve energy efficiency in your laundry room is to stop using hot water. Almost 90 percent of the energy consumed by your washing machine is actually used by your water heater—but most loads of laundry can be just as easily cleaned with cold water. When you need to use warm or hot water on a particularly dirty load of laundry, remember to reset the dials on your washing machine for a cold rinse.
As often as possible, wash a full load of similar items. When you need to wash a smaller load of laundry, adjust the water level settings to match the load size.
One of the best ways to reduce the amount of energy your dryer uses is to get as much water out of the clothes as possible in the washing machine. Try adjusting your settings for a longer spin cycle to wring extra water out of your laundry.
Dryer tips and tricks
Remember the phrase “like with like.” Heavy fabrics should be washed and dried separately from lighter fabrics. If your dryer has a moisture sensor, use it rather than guessing to set the minutes-to-dry timer. When using a dryer’s moisture sensor, the dryer will keep running until the wettest (and probably heaviest) item is dry. Rather than one towel extending the drying time for each of your loads of laundry, dry the towels together.
No matter what kind of fabrics you’re drying, remember not to overfill the dryer so there is enough room for air to circulate. Cleaning the lint trap on your dryer regularly will also help with air circulation and improve energy efficiency. Periodically use a vacuum nozzle to clean the area under or behind the lint filter. If you use dryer sheets, scrub the lint trap’s screen about once a month to remove any film buildup there that can reduce airflow.
Preventing laundry room fires
Did you know that thousands of home fires each year begin with clogged dryer ducts and vents? For improved energy efficiency—and safety—clean your lint trap after every dryer use. Inspect your outside dryer vent regularly to make sure it is not blocked. If you notice lint collecting on surfaces in your laundry room, your duct system may be clogged. Consider hiring a professional to clean your entire duct system from the back of the dryer to the outdoors.
Patrick Keegan from the July 2016 issue