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Energy Saving Clothes Washers

 

About Clothes Washer Efficiency:

A typical clothes washer will cost almost $1,100 to operate over its lifetime (Based on 8 loads of clothes a week for 14 years, using 13,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity at today's average cost of 8.6 cents per kilowatt-hour). If your cost of energy or water exceed the national average, or if you use your clothes washer more frequently, you should consider the purchase of a high-efficiency, low-water-use clothes washer. Additionally, the clothes washer also impacts the energy use of your clothes dryer depending on how dry the clothes are after the spin cycle. Some high-efficiency clothes washers have faster spin speeds which remove more water, so less energy will be needed for drying. In the past decade, the energy efficiency of standard top-loading washers has doubled. Most new models offer various controls over wash and rinse temperatures and load size. Some models have a "suds saver" option to save soapy water from one cycle to the next. Certain high-end machines automatically sense load size, dirtiness of water, and fabric type and adjust water level and wash cycle automatically.

Tips for Lowering Your Clothes Washer Energy Usage:

  • Locate the washing machine close to the hot water tank, if possible, to reduce the heat loss in long pipe runs. Insulate exposed pipes.
  • Keep your hot-water heater thermostat setting at 120F. Each 10F reduction in water temperature will cut the cost of washing clothes by up to 13%.
  • Wash most clothes in warm or cold water; rinse in cold. You'll save energy and money. Use hot water only if absolutely necessary. Switching the washer temperature setting from hot to warm could reduce a load's energy in half.
  • Fill washers (unless they have a small-load attachment or variable water levels), but do not overload them. In general, washing one large load is more efficient than washing two small loads.
  • Don't use too much detergent. Follow the instructions on the box. Over-sudsing makes your machine work harder and use more energy.
  • Do not over-wash clothes. Delicate clothes don't need as long a wash cycle as dirty work clothes.
  • Presoak or use a soak cycle when washing heavily soiled garments. You'll avoid two washings and save energy.
  • You can save considerable amounts of energy in the laundry through conservation of hot water and by using your automatic washers and dryers less often and more efficiently.

Tips for Buying a New Clothes Washers:

  • Look for ENERGY STAR models. Compared to a 10-year old model, an ENERGY STAR qualified washer can save up to $120 per year on your utility bills.
  • Choose a model with a "mini-basket", a small tub that fits over the agitator. This allows you to wash very small loads.
  • Choose a washing machine that has several options for adjusting the water level. A small load should have the option of using a smaller amount of water.
  • Look for pre-soaking options. Both pre-soaking options and "suds saver" features conserve energy, although the latter option is rare.
  • Choose a washing machine with faster spin speeds. Higher spin speeds can result in better water extraction and reduce drying times.

 

U.S. EPA's ENERGY STAR Program, http://www.energystar.gov and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

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