Going Green in the Laundry Room

Going Green in the Laundry Room

As industries shift to accommodate a new market for eco-friendly products, your choices as a consumer are becoming more and more important to the task of creating a greener world. This permeates your schedule day-to-day, including the part where you have to do your laundry.

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The laundry room has a lot of potential when it comes to green living.  It can be a challenge to find ways to live a green lifestyle, especially if you are on a budget and don’t have the money to lay out for extensive home upgrades. The laundry room is a great place to start thinking green, however, and the tips that follow will help you to make more eco-friendly choices when it comes to doing laundry.

Choose Energy Star Laundry Appliances

While it doesn’t make a lot of sense for you to run out and replace your old energy-sucking washer and dryer pair with a sleek, energy-saving duo, it is a smart move when the time comes.  When replacing laundry appliances, look for those that have the Energy Star logo when you’re buying new ones.  Energy Star washing machines consume only about 25 gallons of water per load, as compared with an average of 40 gallons for standard top-loading machines.  Energy Star dryers also take much less energy than their non-energy saving counterparts.

Choose a Front-Loading Washer

Go even greener by choosing a front-loading washing machine.  The front-loading washer operates on a horizontal axis, and this can save both energy and water.  The front-loader needs less water to do the same job as a top-loader because the tub rotates, tumbling the clothing inside into the water, as opposed to top-loading machines that must be filled in order to do their job.  And the top-loading machine also reduces the amount of energy that is required to dry your clothing, as they spin at a faster rate, which means that the clothes have less water in them when they are finished in the wash.

A front-loading washing machine uses about a third less water and half the energy of a traditional top-loading washing machine. This savings can easily allow the washer to pay for itself within five-six years of purchase, although most top-loaders have a life expectancy of ten years or longer with proper maintenance.

Quick tips for laundry day

As mentioned above, it isn’t a green move to replace an appliance that is still in working order. Why?  Because the old appliance has to end up somewhere – and that eventual home is typically an already overburdened landfill.  Thus, keeping your appliance for as long as possible is a more earth-friendly option.  But you can still follow the tips below to get the most out of your older laundry appliances:

  • Wash in cold water.  Cold water can be gentler on your clothing, and it can also save up to ninety percent of the cost of doing laundry from an energy perspective.
  • Designate a particular day of the week as “laundry day” and do subsequent loads in order to maximize the built-up heat in the dryer.
  • Always make sure that you wash full loads.  You will be using almost the same energy for a “small” load as for a “large” load.
  • Consider line drying clothing when possible. This will not only save energy but is also gentler on most fabrics.
  • Keep the lint trap of your dryer cleaned out after each load.  This allows for heat to circulate properly within the dryer, and thus improves the dryer’s performance.

Original article: Build Direct Green Blog

FAQ’s about cold water washing from BC Hydro

ENERGY STAR appliances usually cost more than others. Would I save money if I don’t buy an ENERGY STAR washing machine but I keep it well maintained?
No. It is always a good idea to keep any appliance well maintained for optimum performance, but even so, ENERGY STAR-rated washing machines are so much more efficient than other models – 36% more efficient than government standards – that they generally pay for themselves in just a few years. Think of an appliance as having two prices: the cost to buy it and the cost to run it. The higher cost of running less energy-efficient appliances quickly cancels out the lower purchase price.

If I only wash in cold water, will my clothes still get as clean?
Yes. Clothes can come out just as clean in cold water, even whites. If you have hard water, try adding some borax to your laundry to brighten whites and colours. You can also add 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle for fresh bright laundry, or use natural biodegradable, non-chlorinated bleach on your whites if you find they’re not bright enough. Hanging your laundry in the sun to dry it will also act as a brightener. Sunlight is a natural bleaching agent.

What about hard-to-remove stains?
Spot clean stains with a natural spot remover before you launder them. The stains will likely come out readily in cold water and you’ll use less energy. For really tough dirty or oily stains, use the “warm” water setting instead of “hot.” You are still cutting your energy savings in half. Also, use a natural stain remover prior to washing or presoak clothes to help loosen the dirt or oil from the stain.

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