Energy-efficient laundry tips for washing and drying

With increasing numbers of families feeling the financial pinch in the current economic climate, and with more people actively playing their part in helping to protect the environment, an energy efficient approach to washing and drying clothes at home is a great starting point.

The cost of operating your washing machine or tumble dryer can vary significantly for families of different sizes. In all probability, you may use your appliances more frequently, especially if you have children or limited outdoor drying space.

Energy efficiency is therefore an important way of reducing your utility bills – these top tips will set you on the right path:

Top energy-efficient washing tips

  1. Firstly, turn down the temperature! You may have been brought up to believe clothes must be washed at 40°C but modern detergents are equally effective at 30°C and you’ll reduce your electricity use by a cool 40%.
  2. If you can get away with a short cycle, then do so. Modern washing machines regulate the amount of water they use, so controlling the length of the cycle and the amount of water you use will promote saving on energy costs.
  3. Only wash when the drum is full! Even if your washing machine can detect the weight of the load and reduce the water consumption accordingly, half-loads will use the same amount of electricity. As a result this is not an energy efficient approach to laundry.
  4. Heavily-soiled garments should be treated before you sling them in the washing machine with a suitable detergent (or even soap). This will help to remove the need to rewash items that emerge from the washing cycle still stained.
  5. Even if you’re rushing to get a garment washed, throw as much as you can from the laundry basket in with the garment to make the most of putting the wash on!
  6. Think about buying clothes made of similar materials that can be washed together. This means it will be much easier for you to put large loads together.
  7. For energy-efficient drying, select the fastest spin mode possible on your washing machine so that you can reduce the length of time you place damp clothes in the tumble dryer or on warm radiators.
  8. Plan ahead when purchasing new clothes or home accessories such as towels and sheets. Heavier cottons, for example, will take up more space in the drum and may make a second load inevitable, whereas lighter fabrics may fit into your machine at the same time as your regular wash.
  9. You’ve probably seen the notices in hotels encouraging you not to wash towels unless necessary to help to promote energy efficiency; now is the time to apply the same principles at home! If your towel has been used once only, decide whether it is really necessary to wash it.

Read more Should I hand-wash dishes or use a dishwasher?

Top energy-efficient drying tips

  1. Tumble dryers might offer the ultimate in convenience but are costly when the warm weather outdoors, or even an indoor airer positioned close to a radiator, can do the job just as effectively while not costing the earth to operate.
  2. If you must use the tumble dryer, keep the filters clear of fluff as a build-up will affect the efficiency of the machine and increases the drying time.
  3. Tumble dry clothes for the minimum length of time – some machines can be set to ‘auto dry’ – rather than simply letting the drying cycle continue endlessly beyond what is necessary.
  4. Avoid drying small loads. Larger loads may take proportionally less time overall than lots of shorter small loads. A second load immediately after a first load will also be completed more quickly due to the build-up of heat in the machine.
  5. If you have a modern tumble dryer, it may continue to turn even once the drying cycle has finished in order to prevent creasing. This uses electricity unnecessarily so remove the clothes as soon as they are dry.
  6. If you have an older machine, typically over ten years old, it may not be energy-efficient. Modern versions are energy-rated from A-G so it may be worth investing for long-term energy savings in an up-to-date drier which were offer a more efficient performance.

Energy-efficient washing and drying is one simple way that you can help to save on energy costs so, with a little time, effort and patience, you can reduce your bills and play your part in helping to protect the environment.