Washer and dryer in a utility room

Energy-efficient laundry tips for washing and drying

Although the economy is showing signs of improvement, there are still plenty of families out there who are feeling the financial pinch. On top of this, more and more people are trying to play their part to help protect the environment.

So, an energy efficient approach to washing and drying clothes makes sense - it will help you to keep your energy bills low, and will mean you’re not wasting energy.

If you’re not sure what energy-efficient washing and drying actually means - or how you can make sure you’re being efficient, these top tips will set you on the right path.

Top energy-efficient washing tips

  • Turn down the temperature. Traditionally, most of us probably washed our clothes at 40°C. However, modern detergents are equally effective at 30°C and you’ll use less energy and could reduce your energy bill by up to 40%.
  • Use a short cycle when possible. Controlling the length of the cycle, and so the amount of water you use, will help you save on energy costs.
  • 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. So try to only use the washing machine for full loads.
  • Treat stained garments first. Heavily-soiled garments should be treated with a suitable detergent, or even soap, before you sling them in the washing machine. This will help to reduce the need to rewash items that emerge from the washing cycle still stained.
  • Plan ahead when purchasing new clothes or home accessories. Heavier cottons, for example, will take up more space in the drum, while if you have clothes, towels etc. made of lighter fabrics, you’ll probably fit more in and need to do less washes.
  • Use the washing machine at night. If you have a nightsaver meter, consider using the washing machine at night time to save on energy. A lot of newer machines even have a timer, which makes this really easy to do.
  • Select the fastest spin mode possible. This will mean your clothes come out with less water in them, and so you can reduce the length of time you place damp clothes in the tumble dryer or on warm radiators.

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

Top energy-efficient drying tips

  • Only use the dryer when it’s really necessary. Tumble dryers might offer the ultimate in convenience but they are costly to run, and hanging clothes outside when possible, or using a clothes airer if not, can be just as effective while being much more energy efficient.
  • Clear out the filters regularly. Keep the filters clear of fluff, as a build-up will affect the efficiency of the machine and increase the drying time.
  • 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.
  • Remove the clothes as soon as they are dry. 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. You should also ensure you’re not leaving the dryer is on for longer than is necessary.
  • Consider investing in a newer machine. If you have an older dryer - 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 in an up-to-date dryer with a high energy-rating which will offer a more efficient performance.

Want to know more about using your appliances more efficiently? We’ve also got tips on energy efficient cooking