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How to Save on Utility Costs for Your Washer and Dryer

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I can't eliminate laundry from your chore list, but I can help you cut down on the steep electric and water costs you incur every time you run your washer and dryer. I have a laundry list of ways to help you save—and don't worry, none of my suggestions includes wearing your underwear inside out!

Is it More Cost Effective to Buy A Washer and Dryer or Go to the Laundromat?

First things first: do you use a washer and dryer at home or do you go to the the laundromat? As for you laundromat ladies—sure, you may enjoy getting to gossip with all the Chatty Cathys while watching your clothes simultaneously tumble through the spin cycle, but have you ever considered whether the laundromat even saves you money when compared to the cost of owning your own washer and dryer?

On average, if you bought a $700 washer and a $600 dryer (the average prices for a new home washer and dryer in 2011), it would only take 605 loads of laundry to recoup the cost of your purchase. According to a study by the California Energy Commission, the average American household does 400 loads of laundry a year—as such, it would take about a year and a half to recoup the cost of your purchase. Moreover, if you own your home, having a washer and dryer will usually increase its selling price.

Ways to Use Less Energy and Water When Doing Laundry

If you washed and dried one load of laundry every day for a year, your yearly energy and water costs would be, on average, a whopping $371.55! Here are some easy ways to reduce that cost:

  • If you are looking to buy a new washer or dryer, buy one with an Energy Star Emblem. Such appliances use energy more efficiently which is good news for your monthly utilities bill.
  • Also, buy a front-loading washer instead of a top-loading washer since front-loaders use 40-75% less water and 30-85% less energy than top-loaders. While a front-loader will cost about $100.00 more than a top-loader, it will often save you $100.00 a year or more in energy and water costs.
  • If possible, wash clothes in cold water. Amazingly, 90% of the energy used to wash clothes goes to just heat up the water. By some estimates, you could save $150.00 per year by washing all your clothes in cold water!
  • Make sure you only wash and dry full loads of laundry. Drying a small load reduces the dryer's tumbling effect and as a result lengthens the drying time and energy expenditure.
  • After your washing machine runs a full cycle, turn its knob to "spin only" to spin the load an extra time. The spinning will help get excess water out of the clothes which will help reduce drying time and cut down on energy costs.
  • Make sure you clean your lint trap before each new dryer load to cut down on drying times and to help the dryer run as efficiently as possible. Likewise, periodically inspect your dryer vent to make sure it is not blocked to help save energy and prevent fires.
  • For "heavy" items like bath mats, sweatshirts, and blankets, reduce your drying time by adding a clean, dry towel to your dryer with the heavy items. This can reduce your drying time by 25% or more!
  • Make sure to dry towels and heavier cottons in separate loads from lightweight clothes and linens.
  • Dry loads back to back to keep the dryer from having to expend excess energy to heat up for each new load.
  • If your dryer has a moisture sensor, use it. This will keep you from over-drying clothes.
  • Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
  • Remember, your dryer is not a substitute for an iron. Ironing is the most effective and cheapest way to get wrinkles out of clothes and linens!
  • You could always line dry your clothes either on an outdoor line or an indoor rack. In cooler climates, your laundry will dry faster on your indoor rack if you position it next to a heating source in your home such as a wood burning stove, a heating vent, or a space heater. Remember to rotate your laundry on the rack to speed up the drying time. If the humidity in your home prevents your laundry from drying quickly, consider using a dehumidifier. It only costs pennies a day to run and will probably help out with other areas of your house in mold and mildew prevention. If you hate the crunchy feel your laundry gets when you line dry it, simply throw it in the dryer for five minutes prior to line drying it.

These changes are easy to implement and will help you save big on your monthly utilities bill.

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