9 Tips to Green your Washing Machine

Washing machines are responsible for an average of 21% of the total household water usage and 7% of the total energy usage. Approximately 90% of the energy used by a washing machine is used to heat water. 

The following in an excerpt from the book “The Ultimate Guide to Greening your Home”.

By following the tips below, you can reduce your washing machine’s energy and water consumption. This will save money and lessen the negative effect on the environment.

✔ Choose an EnergyStar certified washing machine - When replacing your clothes washer, choose an EnergyStar-labeled model. EnergyStar clothes washers can reduce energy consumption by up to 70% and are available in top-loading and front-loading designs. Some EnergyStar models use up to 50% less water in addition to saving energy.

✔ Check the Yellow EnergyGuide label - The EnergyGuide label provides you with a wealth of information about the energy consumption of the washing machine.  You can use this information to compare models and calculate the yearly operating expenses.

✔ Choose a front-loading washing machine - Front-loading washing machines use 50% the water and 50% less energy than top-loading machines. They also require low-sudsing or high-efficiency (HE) detergents (the types of detergents used for cold water washing).

✔ Right-size your washing machine - When choosing a new washing machine, choose the best capacity for your needs. While a larger model will obviously hold more clothes, it will also use more energy. On the other hand, a model that’s too small will require more frequent washing. Because clothes are generally measured in pounds, you may want to weigh an average load before making a purchase to make sure your new washer can handle your washing habits.

✔ Wash full loads of laundry - Washing full loads of laundry can lower both home energy costs as well as water consumption. To know the proper load volume for your washing machine, check its documentation and weigh your loads. If your model has a load sensor, follow its guidance to avoid over or under loading.

✔ Use smaller load settings when appropriate – By matching the load setting to the amount of laundry, both electricity and water can be saved. If your machine has an auto-water level setting, be sure to use this.  In general, this method is more accurate than weighing your laundry.  Washing full loads can save the average household 3,400 gallons of water a year.

Use nontoxic, natural laundry detergents and fabric softeners - By choosing nontoxic, natural laundry detergents and fabric softeners, you will reduce the amount of chlorine, phosphates, and petroleum-based chemicals released into the environment and your clothes.  Residues from traditional detergents and fabric softeners often times remain in your clothes, which can cause exposure to chemicals and possible skin irritations.

Choose a model with a high Modified Energy Factor (MEF) and a low Water Factor (WF) – Modified Energy Factor (MEF) is a measure of energy efficiency that considers the energy used by the washer, the energy used to heat the water, and the energy used to run the dryer. Water Factor (WF) measures water efficiency in gallons of water consumed per cubic foot of capacity.5

Wash clothes at lower temperatures – By washing clothes at lower temperatures, you can significantly reduce the amount of energy used by your washing machine.

By washing all your laundry in cold, it is estimated that the average family could save around $100 to $150 in electricity over the course of a year.  In addition, washing laundry at lower temperatures helps protect the color and condition of the fabric of clothes (especially synthetics), extending their useful life.

Price Per Load (electricity) based on water temperature
Wash / Rinse Settings Electricity Use

(kWh per Load)

Cost per Load Cost per Year
Hot / Warm 4.5 $0.68 $265
Warm / Warm 3.5 $0.53 $206
Hot / Cold 2.8 $0.42 $165
Warm / Cold 1.9 $0.29 $112
Cold / Cold 0.3 $0.04 $16

 

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