Saving Stuff

How to use less electricity when washing

Published: 19 February 2008

Itís a thankless chore but wash day has to happen if weíre to keep up our appearance. Itís also quite an energy intensive point in the week too. Even with the most efficient washing machines and tumble dryers there will be an inevitable spike in power consumption.

Washing hanging on the lineFirst of all, make sure your appliances are as energy efficient as possible. Thereís plenty of information on the DEFRA website to help you choose the right washing machine and tumble dryer.

Okay, so youíve got fairly efficient appliances, how can you reduce the amount of electricity you consume further? Quite simply, donít use them! Iím not advocating an all out ban on washing and drying clothes because no one wants to be dirty! Iím suggesting adopting a practical approach to reducing the amount of laundry you do and choosing a more environmentally friendly means to get it dry. For example, I know some people who will wear an item of clothing for a few hours and then toss it in the laundry basket. A pair of jeans could be worn on more than one occasion before ending up in the wash. Common sense should dictate how often you can wear something before it needs to be washed.

When you do wash your clothes, donít do half loads and donít over fill it. Also, consider a more efficient programme such as a lower temperature or a short wash if the clothes arenít heavily soiled. Dropping the temperature to 30ļC can use up to 40% less electricity. If your washing machine has spin options, set it to a high or extended spin setting. This will wring clothes out as much as possible before you put them in the dryer.

Drying your clothes on an outside line is probably where youíll save the most energy. Even in the winter youíll find the odd day here and there where you can get some drying done. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and catch those sunny days. However, there will be times when there arenít suitable days and you really need to get some drying done. You have two options here, either hang your clothes somewhere indoors or use the tumble dryer. When hanging your clothes in the house you can put them on a clothes horse in the sunniest room, hang airers over the bath and hang airers on your radiators. If youíre fortunate enough to have an airing cupboard then use that. If all else fails and you resort to using a tumble dryer invest in those tumble dryer balls as they are supposed to cut down on your drying times therefore using less electricity. "The dryerballs lift and separate the laundry whilst drying, thus reducing drying time and creasing. The dryerballs also retain the heat and transfer it to the clothes as they tumble, further speeding up the drying process." Ė Information from Dryerballs. Plus they soften the fabric naturally which means you no longer need to put fabric softener in your washing machine or dryer sheets in your tumble dryer.