Don't get in hot water with your energy bills
Laundry can be one of the easiest ways to cut back on your electricity bills. That's because a lot of the things that you can do to cut costs don't cost you anything up front. The best part? Many of these tips will cut back wear-and-tear on your favourite fabrics, too.
10 things you can do right now to save money on laundry
1. Use cold water for almost everything
Did you know that 80% of a clothes washer's energy use goes towards heating the water? So pat yourself on the back if you're already washing on cold. Not only are you reducing your hot water costs, but you're also ensuring that your clothes last longer since washing in cold is much gentler on fabrics.
Simply changing from hot to cold water can save you about $36 a year in energy costs, if you do about 3 loads per week. Those savings just keep adding up if you typically do more loads. And you can do it without sacrificing clean clothes – there are many detergents these days specially formulated to work better in cold water.
You’re probably wondering if washing in cold water is just as effective as hot water for cleaning your laundry. The answer is that cold water and washing detergent is sufficient day-to-day cleaning but be sure to only remove clothes from the dryer when they are completely dry. If someone in your home is sick, then avoid shaking laundry, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands immediately after handling dirty clothes. Also, you should store dirty laundry separately in disposable slips or bags.
2. Do fewer loads of laundry, or choose shorter cycles
Only toss your clothes in the hamper when they're actually dirty, and always run full loads. A partial load will use just as much energy, so make it a habit to wait until you can fill your washer's full capacity. Even if you're already using cold water, reducing your laundry loads by one per week could save you $30 a year in energy costs.
Another option if it’s available on your machines is to choose "light" or "express" wash for items that aren't heavily soiled or stained. You'll save time, water, energy – and money.
3. Hang clothes to dry, year-round
A clothes dryer typically uses more energy per-use than any other major appliance. But you can probably get by without it for most loads if you hang dry.
However, before you hang all your laundry up outside to dry, check with your municipality and/or strata. Many have restrictions on outdoor clothes lines or racks. If you aren’t allowed (or are unable) to dry outside, you could try hang drying indoors instead. Be sure to follow our guide on the ins and outs of hang drying laundry. If you’re able to, hanging four out of eight loads a week could save you $47 per year.
4. Only dry full loads of laundry
If you absolutely need to use your dryer, try to run larger loads (your dryer should be about three-quarters full). Not only does this mean you'll run fewer loads over time, but it'll help your dryer work more efficiently. For even more efficient drying, try using the moisture setting instead of the timer so you don’t dry items longer than you need to. See our tips on how to avoid overloading your dryer.
5. Use less detergent – and choose the right stuff
If your laundry pair is on the newer side, it's probably much more efficient than the machines you grew up with or the laundromat you frequented in college. That's good news from an energy standpoint – and when you need to stock up on detergent. If you have a high-efficiency machine, make sure you're using a detergent formulated for it, and stick to the recommended amounts (which can be much lower than you expect). Your clothes will come out cleaner and you'll spend less money at the store.
6. Opt for reusable dryer balls, not dryer sheets
Dryer sheets really aren't needed these days, unless you're big on the scent. Reusable dryer balls will reduce wrinkles and soften clothes, just like dryer sheets, and they come in all kinds of sizes and types – from handcrafted recycled felt on Etsy to plastic balls covered in little spikes that you can pick up at Walmart. Dryer balls are good for years of washes and offer a few benefits: you won’t spend money on dryer sheets; you reduce waste, and they can help stop clothes from clumping together in the dryer, which means they take less time to dry.
7. Clean your washer and dryer regularly
We don't often remember to clean the things in our homes that are meant to clean other stuff. Following the manufacturer's maintenance instructions can go a long way in making sure your washer and dryer are working efficiently. Run your washing machine's cleaning cycle to avoid mildew build up and bad smells. In addition, clean the lint trap of your dryer after every load to ensure proper airflow and reduce fire hazards. Besides keeping your washer and dryer working efficiently, regular maintenance can also help prevent your machines from breaking down and being needed to be replaced earlier than expected.
8. Use our cost calculator tool
Seeing the cost of doing your laundry can be a good first step to making smarter energy choices. You can use our cost calculator to give yourself a better idea of how each load of laundry adds to your electricity bill. You can also use it to compare the approximate energy cost of using an ENERGY STAR® clothes washer and dryer versus less efficient non-ENERGY STAR® models.
9. Start tracking laundry day with MyHydro
How much energy do your current laundry habits use? A good place to start is to log in to MyHydro (or if you're new to this, create a MyHydro profile). You can see your electricity use down to the hour, so give it a whirl and see what kind of spikes you have when the washer and dryer are going. Maybe your washer isn't too bad but the dryer uses a lot. Knowing how much you're using can be the last motivation you need to start hanging clothes to dry.
10. Choose an ENERGY STAR® washer and dryer
Okay, so this one you may not want to do right now. But if you do happen to be in the market for a new washer and dryer, always look for the ENERGY STAR® logo. ENERGY STAR® dryers are newer to the market, but they do exist, and can come in ventless and heat pump options. ENERGY STAR® machines have been tested for energy-efficiency and reliability, and will provide you with significant savings in energy costs over time compared to a non-ENERGY STAR® machine.