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Keep the Change: Find Some Money in the Wash

The average family washes about 300 loads of laundry a year. All those dirty clothes use a lot of electricity, but there are some easy ways to cut energy use and save money in the laundry room.

Use Cold Water

Almost 90 percent of the energy used to wash clothes is spent heating water. According to Consumer Reports experts, washing in cold water is a much more effective option than it used to be thanks to better detergents. Today’s detergents are formulated with enzymes that activate at 60 F. Hotter water can also damage some fabrics and colors.

Do Fewer Loads

Wash full loads of laundry, when possible. If small loads are necessary, adjust the water level. Use your solar-powered dryer and air-dry clothes. You can tumble dry loads until damp and then line-dry to prevent the “crunchy” feeling line-dried clothes have sometimes.

Safety Rules

Remember to clean the lint trap after every load to help air circulation. Periodically use a vacuum nozzle to clean the area under or behind the lint filter, where lint can also get caught. Be sure to check the outside air duct too. Removing lint not only keeps the dryer running efficiently but also can precent a fire.


One of the biggest changes you can make is to purchase a new ENERGY STAR-certified washer and dryer. Washers with this certification use about 40 percent less water and 25 percent less electricity than standard washers. ENERGY STAR dryers use 20 percent less energy than standard dryers. Visit energystar.gov for more information.