Get the Most From Your Washer

Ninety-percent of the cost of running a washer goes to heating water. Only 10% goes to electricity needed to run the motor. Here’s how to save money while getting your clothes clean.

1. Use cold water. You can save a bundle by washing your clothes in cold water, which is a perfectly efficient way to clean most clothes. Washing a load in cold water costs only about 4 cents, compared to washing in hot/warm water for 68 cents. Annually, you’ll save $40 with an electric water heater and $30 with a gas water heater.

2. Run full loads. It takes as much electricity to wash a small load as it does a full one, so you’ll save money by only washing full loads.

3. Update your machine. If you don’t already have an Energy Star-certified washer, it’s time to get one. These energy-efficient machines use 15 gallons of water per load, compared to 23 gallons for a standard machine. If a gallon of water costs you a penny (the U.S. average), you’ll save $24 a year.

4. Buy a front-loading machine. They use two-thirds less water than top-loaders, reducing water and heating costs.

Related: How to Buy a Washer

Get the Most From Your Dryer

5. Spin faster. The faster you spin clothes in the washer, the less time they’ll need in the dryer. If you have the option, chose a faster spin cycle.

6. Clean lint filters. Remove lint after every load, and clean ducts annually. Your clothes will dry faster, using less energy.

7. Warm it up. If possible, locate your dryer in a warm laundry room rather than in a cold basement. The warmer the air coming into the dryer, the less energy your machine will use to heat it up.

8. Go gas. Drying a load of laundry in a gas dryer generally costs 15 to 33 cents less per load than an electric dryer (32 to 41 cents).

9. Keep it full. Dry only full loads, and try not to mix fast and slow-drying clothes — a practice that wastes energy by continuing to dry clothes that are no longer wet.

10. Let nature help out. When the weather is warm, cut your energy costs by drying clothes outside on a clothesline. If HOA regulations don’t allow you to set up a clothesline outside, then use a stand-alone drying rack inside.

Related: How to Help Appliances Last Longer