Energy efficient laundry

Energy-efficient laundry tips

Your washing machine alone accounts for 7% of your energy bill.

Doing the laundry requires a significant amount of energy but there are ways to make the load lighter on your wallet and the environment.

Read on for our top tips for saving energy when you're washing and drying your clothes, and for advice on choosing an energy-efficient washing machine.

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Top tips for energy-efficient washing

We've compiled our top tips for making your washing as energy-efficient and budget-friendly as possible.

  1. Wash clothes on the shortest cycle and with the lowest water level that's practical for your needs. Why waste water by washing twice the amount you need?

  2. Use a cold water or 30°C cycle where possible. It's only for particularly dirty clothes, bad stains or underwear that you are likely to need warmer temperatures.

  3. Soak heavily soiled items before washing, and rub collars or other stains with household soap. There's nothing worse than having to repeat a wash because stains didn't come out.

  4. Wait until you have a full load before washing. Naturally if you're running out of socks you might have to put a load on, but otherwise it's best to wait for a full basket to avoid wasting water.

  5. If you have to do a wash in a rush make sure you fill up the machine with other clothes too.

  6. Think about the type of clothes you buy; if you frequently do washes because you haven't got enough clothes of a particular type, then it may make sense to invest in a few more.

  7. Similarly, bath sheets are typically heavyweight cotton and excessively large, so consider choosing standard lightweight bath towels to save on energy.

  8. Where possible, use a high spin speed so clothes come out of the washing machine almost dry, with little need for tumble drying. And, of course, when it comes to drying where possible hang your clothes up rather than using a drier.

  9. Include occasional hot washes if you mainly do low temperature ones. This will get rid of bacteria and prevent the build up of odours in your machine.

Washing your clothes is only half the story, what about drying them? Read on to find out how to save energy when drying your clothes:

Ten tips for energy-efficient drying

The most efficient way to dry is to hang your clothes up, but if you want to, or have to, use a drier we're put together some top tips for drying your clothes in an energy-efficient and budget-friendly way.

  1. Dry similar fabrics together.

  2. Clean the filters every time you use your dryer to make sure they're free from fluff and your dryer will operate more efficiently.

  3. Use auto-dry rather than a timed cycle, that way you won't be using more energy than required.

  4. Only dry clothes as much as necessary. It's lovely to step into warm, dry, fresh clothes, but it's also a waste of energy. Far better to limit the drying to what is absolutely necessary.

  5. Resist the temptation to add wet items part way through a drying cycle. Far better to wait until the end of a cycle and dry clothes together. If there isn't space in the drier it may be a better bet to hang up those fabrics that dry quicker.

  6. Energy efficient laundry
  7. Plan your washing so items that you want to tumble dry are all washed in the same load. That way you're likely to fill the tumble dryer rather than washing half a load.

  8. Make sure the machine is full and if possible do all your drying in one go, a second load can take advantage of the heat that has already built up in the machine.

  9. Remove clothes from your dryer once they are dry, as modern machines will continue to rotate to prevent creasing, and therefore use more energy

  10. If your machine is vented, check the outside vent is in good working order and clear it of any dust or debris.

  11. There is a wide variation in the efficiency of machines, and as they're big electricity users, it's worth checking carefully how efficient yours is.

Choosing an energy-efficient washing machine, tumble dryer or washer-dryer

If your machine is over ten years old then the chances are it will be making your energy bills unnecessarily high. 

Nowadays, washing machines, tumble dryers and washer-dryers all have much improved energy-efficiency, due to the introduction of the EC A-G labels and improvements in technology.

When looking at energy ratings for washing machines, it's important to remember that they're are currently based on 60°C cotton washes, and therefore may not truly reflect regular usage.

Modern machines also allow for better customisation of wash cycles, which means you can choose the most energy-efficient option for your needs. Some even have weight sensors for accurate loading, and to determine how much water and heat to use. Such features mean that efficiencies are much easier to achieve.

Likewise, modern tumble dryers have built-in sensors that prevent clothes from over-drying and they operate in such a way that clothes dry more quickly and evenly.  

Water consumption is another consideration too, and will impact your bills if you are on a water meter. In fact, if you're on a water meter you may want to seriously reconsider using a tumble dryer.

This applies not only to washing machines, but also to washer-dryers. They consume a lot of additional water in drying mode, as they use a continuous run of cold mains water to condense the warm vapour from the drying clothes.

The amount of water used for drying varies greatly from machine to machine, so if you only have space for a washer-dryer then check this out carefully. You should also pay specific attention to the energy-efficiency ratings of your machine which will make a huge difference over the lifetime of your washer/dryer.

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