There are two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes—use less water and use cooler water. Unless you're dealing with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your machine will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half.
- Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.
- Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
- Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
- Don't over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
- Clean the lint screen in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation and prevent fire hazards.
- Periodically, use the long nozzle tip on your vacuum cleaner to remove the lint that collects below the lint screen in the lint screen slot of your clothes dryer.
- Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the heat remaining in the dryer.
- Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material -- not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages.
- Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks. Air drying is recommended by clothing manufacturers for some fabrics.
- If you have a front-loading washer or high-efficiency top-loader, use detergent labeled for high-efficiency (HE) machines. According to the American Cleaning Institute (PDF), HE detergents are low-sudsing and quick-dispersing to clean well in high-efficiency washers that use less water.
Long-Term Savings Tips
Look for the ENERGY STAR® and EnergyGuide labels. ENERGY STAR clothes washers clean clothes using 35% less water and 20% less energy than standard washers.
ENERGY STAR clothes dryers use 20% less energy than conventional models. When shopping for a new clothes dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry. Not only will this save energy, it will save the wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.