Save on energy bills with your washer and dryer

Everybody needs clean clothes. Unfortunately, your laundry room can clean you out your wallet if you aren’t careful. Washers and dryers can be notorious for using energy and driving up your utility bills. Fortunately, advances in technology mean that modern machines use a lot less electricity, gas and water than their predecessors. Furthermore, you can fine-tune your habits to get the very most out of your washer and dryer without spending a fortune on utilities. When buying and using your laundry equipment, follow these tips to keep the bills to a minimum:

Your washing machine doesn’t have to be a money pit:

  • When it’s time to buy, make sure you get an Energy Star-certified model. These marvels of efficiency use 20 percent less energy and 35 percent less water on average than other washers.
  • Look for machines with automatic sensors that can tailor the amount of water to the size of the load, reducing waste.
  • Front-loading washers are a better bet than top loading models when it comes to saving water.
  • The smaller the washer, the more efficient it is, as long as it’s big enough to meet your family’s needs.
  • Hot water accounts for 90 percent of the energy use of a washing machine, according to Energy Star, so use cold when you can. If cold water won't work, use warm instead and you still save up to 50 percent compared to hot.
  • High-efficiency detergent creates fewer suds that can clog your machine and otherwise limit its performance.
  • Set the load size appropriately for the job. Fill the washer up, but don’t overfill, for the best efficiency.
  • Soak especially dirty clothes before you wash them to give your machine a helping hand.
  • Run the washer for shorter cycles if the clothes are only lightly soiled.
  • Reduce the amount of pressure you put on your dryer by having the washer run a second spin cycle.

Wring out energy savings from your dryer as well:

  • Good news! As of January 1, dyers are the latest home appliance to get the benefit of Energy Star certificates. That makes it easy to ensure you are purchasing the most efficient machines. According to the federal program, the dryers bearing their stamp of approval use 20 percent less energy than conventional models.
  • If you have the right hook-up, think about getting a gas dryer. They are faster, cheaper and more efficient than electric models.
  • Use sensor drying in lieu of timed drying, so the machine shuts down once the clothes are sufficiently dry.
  • Clear the lint screen after every load. This helps with air circulation, as well as reducing your fire risk.
  • To optimize performance use a vacuum to clean behind the lint filter periodically, and make sure your outdoor vent is clear.
  • “Delicate” and “permanent press” settings are great for lighter fabrics and use less heat than standard settings.
  • Load the dryer appropriately and don’t put too few or too many clothes in. Doing so will hurt your performance and efficiency.
  • Do you live in a sunny area? You can dry your clothes for free — just hang them on a clothesline in your yard. If you’ve got the space, indoor drying racks work as well.

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