How Efficient are Your Existing Appliances? – Part 2
As we continue our education on using existing home appliances more efficiently, our focus moves to a much needed, but often dreaded duo - the washer and dryer.
While the washer ranks low among energy users, it’s ranked as the 25th biggest energy user in the home according to Bruce Harley in his book Cut Your Energy Bills Now. The dryer is high on that same list at number 5. So, let’s start there. The reality about dryers is that they are inefficient machines. Energy Star doesn’t even rate them because there are few ways to actually make it an efficient appliance. The green option for a dryer is a clothes rack or a clothesline. Still, we can start with a few tips on how to improve your energy use.
  • Don’t simply default to drying your clothes for a set amount of time each load. Make sure you are customizing the timer to each load for the minimum amount of time needed. And if your dryer offers a sensor to stop running when clothes are detected as dry, for pete’s sake, utilize it.
  • Clean the lint dryer. Lint obstructions directly lower the efficiency of your machine. This is a simple, high-priority change.
  • The best option for maintaining the integrity of your dryer-friendly clothes is to dry them for 10-15 minutes. This allows for the clothes to fluff up a little and remove lint without overly working the garment. Plus, it’ll reduce your drying costs.
  • Pay attention to the load recommendations. It’s most common for people to underload a wash, using more water and energy to wash fewer clothes. Still, some are overloaders which can lead to less clean clothes, causing the user think they need to use more aggressive wash settings and cleaners. Both problems are valid, so figure out where you land and adjust your loads accordingly.
  • Use cold water during your loads. Many soap options are now designed to get your clothes clean in conjunction with cold water rather than needing the heated water to get out the wear of the clothes. Heating water is a major source of energy use. With a simple change of selection, you’ll start saving instantly.
  • Listen to the soap recommendations. You may think more means cleaner, but more detergent can actually build up in your machine due to over-sudsing and ultimately require the need for maintenance.
  • Perform a bimonthly check on your machine. Evaluating the pumps and filters will prevent it from running inefficiently.
  • On a more sanitary note, keep in mind that the washer is a major risk area for mold in your home. Leave your machine open when not in use to allow it to air out and run an empty load with hot water and vinegar every so often to sanitize in the areas you’d have no hope of cleaning by hand.
I leave you with an organizational laundry room tip. We’ve all accidentally thrown something in the dryer from the washing machine that we wished we hadn’t. A favorite sweater sneaks in and comes out a quarter of the size. To avoid this problem, when initially loading the washer, grab a dry erase marker and write the pieces of laundry you specifically want to seek out to avoid throwing it in the dryer. It’s a great tip if you’re forgetful, or if a helpful chore assistant is going to be doing the wash to dryer transition for you.

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