Washing and drying clothes uses a lot of energy and water in a typical house. Here are 10 ways you can reduce your consumption of water and energy while doing laundry.
(Image: Flickr member Kurt Thomas Hunt licensed for use under Creative Commons)
- Move the dryer closer to an outside wall
The farther exhaust air has to travel from your dryer to get outside, the more energy your dryer will use on every cycle. If you can, move the dryer as close to its exhaust port as possible. Can you reduce the number of elbow bends in the exhaust pipe? If you can remove one, that will make the dryer much more efficient.
- Use smooth ducts for exhaust
Your dryer will use more energy if it has to push exhaust air past the pleats found in flexible ducts. Smooth ducts produce less turbulence and require less energy to exhaust air.
- Air dry clothes when possible
The best way to reduce energy used by a clothes dryer is to not use it at all. Project Laundry List created a Top Ten Reasons To Line Dry that includes helpful tips and motivations. My favorite is tip number one: Save $25/month on your electric bill.
- 8 Tips to Optimize Your Dryer
Learn how to separate clothes and select cycles that optimize drying time. You can dry full loads, but don't overfill the dryer, stop over-drying your clothes, and separate heavy from light fabrics among other tips.
- Recover greywater from the washing machine
Susan Carpenter completed a two year experiment with a variety of energy saving technologies in her home. She listed grey water as one of the technologies that is worth it. "Over the last two years, that simple switch has sent 9,720 gallons to passion fruit vines instead of the sewer, and it required only one change to her usual routine. She had to swap laundry detergents because her usual brand, like many, contained salt and other ingredients that kill plants."
- Use an electricity free technique
Wonderwash Portable Washing Machine & Mini Spin Dryer, "is small enough for countertop use, is easy and safe to use, and will cut down on water and electricity usage as well as save money (as much as $150-250 per year because it uses 90% less water and detergent)." Would you be willing to spend more time doing laundry in very small loads in order to save this much energy and water?
- Hot, warm or cold cycles?
Not all laundry needs to be washed in hot, or even warm water. Separate loads and be selective about which fabrics get to be washed in heated water. Washing in cold will reduce energy needed to heat the water. I only wash whites in hot water periodically to keep them looking white. Everything else is washed in warm or cold water.
- Wash clothes less frequently
Planet Green's post about 8 Ways to Make Your Clothes Last includes the tip of washing clothes less often. "Wash your clothes less often. We Americans love being over cleanly. This tip may not go over well in the States. You don't need to wash your clothes just because you wore it once. Give it a sniff test and wear it again. It's not gross. It's smart."
- Heat and moisture energy exchange
Exhausting air out of your clothes dryer requires that fresh air come into your home. An air to air heat and moisture exchange system could allow you to save energy on heating or cooling your home by recycling the energy you used to heat or cool it in the first place. Find out more about heat exchangers to see if it is time to make the switch.
- Stop shipping water when you buy liquid detergents
I've used this homemade detergent recipe for about a year and a half because I am sensitive to perfumes. It allows me to control what goes into the laundry. I also like it because I'm not spending energy to ship water to our house in liquid detergents.