The next time your utility bill comes in the mail, don’t lose your wheels. According to the latest data available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average residential U.S. electricity price increased by 7.8% compared with 202 – or about 16.14 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
As a result of record-breaking temperatures across the country and skyrocketing utility bills, many people are tempted to blame their air conditioners, but another utility hog in the house needs to share that blame – your laundry washer and dryer.
Cyndi Bray, household energy savings expert and inventor of Wad-Free, tells ConsumerAffairs that using laundry machines correctly can unlock new ways to save on monthly expenses.
Washers and dryers aren't the energy guzzlers that water heaters and air conditioners are, but they can account for close to 6% of people's utility bills. According to Energy Star, the average American family spends $2,060 per year for utilities, so playing out that 6% factor, that’s about $120 back in your pocket.
“It’s one of life’s unending tasks: no matter how diligent you are about doing laundry, it will never end,” Bray told ConsumerAffairs. “With a few tweaks to your laundry routine, you can drastically cut your energy consumption, and save time and money in the process.”
Bray’s utility-saving tips
We probably don’t even think about how a kilowatt hour breaks down, but Bray says that 90% of the energy consumed in the clothes washer goes toward heating the water and if you wash in cold water instead, you can save up to 50 cents per load in energy costs.
You may be saying, “But hot water gets out stains better!” Bray suggests you should rethink that position, however.
“Don’t fear clothes and sheets not coming out clean. Most of today’s laundry detergents are formulated to clean best in cold water, and most of the fabric care tags of your clothes and sheets call for cold water anyway,” Bray said.
Another washing machine insider tip is to only run full loads or schedule your laundry routine during non-peak hours. When are those? According to PowerWizard, the cheapest time of day to use electricity is late nights and early mornings – the times of day when most folks are in their beds and not hogging electricity watching TV or washing dishes.
When it comes to the clothes dryer, Bray says that’s somewhat of an uphill battle because the dryer is often the least efficient appliance in the household and the average dryer can use more energy than the refrigerator, clothes washer, and dishwasher combined!
“An easy way to save energy is to select a low heat setting. Even if you have to run the dryer for a longer period of time, consumers save a lot of energy over running the dryer on high. The bonus is your clothes and sheets will last longer, too,” Bray advises, adding that if you dry loads consecutively, the heat of the dryer is used one load after another and doesn’t have to do a complete reset.