How to save energy when doing the laundry
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Last updated: 02 July 2021
Laundry is something that most households in the UK have to do on (at least) a weekly basis. Running the washing machine or the tumble dryer is certainly more energy efficient
that it used to be, but it still uses a large amount of electricity. Read our useful guide on how you could save some money on your next energy bill with our top energy saving tips
Tips for energy efficient washing
On average, washing and drying laundry accounts for around 10% of each UK household’s energy usage. In a large household this can be a significant amount of electricity. Here’s how to reduce your energy costs when washing your clothes:
- Use colder washes – nowadays powders and detergents work a lot better with colder washes than they used to. Cold washes, or washes at 30°C, will clean your laundry just as well. You will only need warmer temperatures for bad stains, dirty underwear and to get rid of bad bacteria, for example if someone has been sick.
- Use shorter cycles – doing quicker washes reduces the time, and therefore the energy, that a washer needs to wash your clothes. It will also reduce the damage done to your clothes in the wash and help them to last longer.
- Wash with a full load – to avoid wasting water and energy on doing more washes than you need to, make sure you are fully loading your washer before you set it off.
- Soak stains first – if you have any very dirty clothes or bad stains then it is best to soak them in cold water before you put them in the wash. This way you avoid having to put laundry through the wash more than once just to remove a stain.
- Increase the spin speed – by speeding up the spin speed in your washes, your laundry will come out less wet. This cuts the time you need to dry your clothes for, saving power if you’re using a tumble dryer.
- Wash clothes less often – sometimes you don’t need to wash your clothes after wearing them just once. Items such as trousers and jumpers can be worn a number of times before you necessarily need to clean them. Air out clothes and you may find you don’t need to wash them as regularly.
- Turn the washing machine off – it may seem obvious, but make sure that your washer is completely off once the wash is finished. Even if the machine is on standby, it may still be costing you energy.
Tips for energy efficient drying
When trying to save on the cost of energy from doing your laundry you also have to think about drying it. Tumble dryers notoriously use a lot of electricity, so here are some of our top tips to help you make your drying more energy efficient:
- Don’t use a tumble dryer – many households cannot afford a tumble dryer or do not have the space for one. There are a number of alternatives, such as a washing line, a drying rack or a warm room. Even if you have a dryer, try line-drying your clothes when the weather is warmer, sometimes it will be even quicker than your tumble dryer and saves you the cost of energy.
- Keep the dryer clean – most dryers have a lint screen or filter to stop fluff from blocking up the ducts. Make sure you clean this regularly as it will let the air flow better, therefore making the dryer more efficient. You should also make sure the ducts and any sensors are as clean as possible so that your dryer is working at maximum efficiency.
- Dry similar items together – items of the same fabric will try at the same speed; you will save drying time by keeping your fast-drying items away from heavy fabrics that may take longer.
- Use automatic cycle – most tumble dryers will have an automatic cycle that uses sensors to detect when the contents are sufficiently dry. By using timed drying you may use more energy than you need.
- Don’t overload – your dryer will dry its contents more efficiently if the hot air has room to move around in.
- Untangle your washing – make sure you untangle and shake out your washing before you put it in the dryer. Moisture will then be released from your wet washing more easily once in the dryer.
- Keep your dryer warm – make sure that your dryer is located in a warm room. It will use up more energy heating itself up if you keep it in a cold area. However, make sure that the room is well-ventilated to make sure your dryer doesn’t overheat.
- Do multiple loads back-to-back – try and do all your drying on the same day. This way you will retain some of the heat from load to load and save energy in the process.
Buying a new washer
If you have an old washing machine, then one of the best ways to make your washing more energy efficient is to buy a newer model. Modern washing machines are far more energy efficient that older appliances, and thanks to EU regulation all washing machines will be labelled with their energy efficiency.
Newer, more energy efficient washing machines probably won’t be the cheapest, but in the long run you may save the difference in price on energy bills. More energy-efficient washing machines may also save you money on your water bill as they will use less water to get the job done.
Modern washing machines have many more customizable options for washing, so you can accurately wash any item in the most energy efficient way. The energy labels outline the kWh the machine will use in a year, the annual water consumption, its capacity, its spin-drying efficiency and the amount of noise it makes.
Be sure to compare as many models of washing machine as you can before you purchase a new one. This way you’ll end up getting the most suitable energy-efficient washer for your needs.
Buying a new dryer
Like washing machines, modern tumble dryers are also far more energy efficient than older dryers. They dry clothes quicker and many models will have automatic sensors that mean you don’t have to worry about getting your drying time right.
Dryers also have useful energy labels which give you plenty of information on the energy efficiency of the machine. With dryers, the energy efficiency matters more than with washing machines. A less energy efficient dryer could add £100 or more to your annual energy bill.
Be sure to compare as many dryer models as you can and keep an eye on their energy efficiency ratings.