Using your washing machine and dryer for the best efficiency

Washers and dryers can use substantial amounts of energy and water. Here are a few tips to reduce the impact that your washing machine and dryer have on the environment and on your bills.

First, replace your old top-loading dryer with an energy-friendly front loader. (They're usually quieter too!) A front loader uses water more efficiently. Furthermore, because gravity and momentum help your clothes tumble as they are washed, the front-loading washing machine motor uses less energy than its top-loading counterpart. Generally speaking, front loaders also take up less space also.

Next, check your washing machine settings. Are you using shorter cycles for a typical load? Generally speaking, you only need to run a “heavy” wash for serious smells and stains. Use just the recommended amount of detergent; using too much detergent will require more rinsing and may leave residue in your fabrics.

Also, consider using cold water. Many people think that cold water won't clean your clothes as well, but that's just not true; in fact, hot water can “set” stains (as can the dryer) and make them harder to remove. Using hot water demands the energy needed to heat the water in addition to the energy required to run your washing machine.

When it comes to drying, choose the lowest setting or least time that will get the job done. Don't overload your dryer (or your washer); this can put a strain on the mechanism and prevent your clothes from getting as clean or dry as they ought to.

Finally, consider air-drying at least some of your clothes. Drying racks are cheap and air drying consumes no energy whatsoever. It requires a little planning ahead (they may take a day or two to dry fully) but will save you money and wear on your dryer. A dryer is very useful, but trying to do without it occasionally will help your household budget.

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