Want to cut your energy bill? Give your laundry the cold shoulder.
Your washing machine consumes a lot of energy, 90% of which is used to heat the water. But here’s the thing: If your washer was made in the 21st century, you can wash everything in cold water. In fact, that’s now the best way to launder even the dirtiest clothes.
Today’s front loader and high-efficiency top loaders use less water and heated to lower temperatures than traditional agitator washers, all as the result of tough Department of Energy standards. Warm cycles, for example, use water 15 degrees cooler than older machines.
In response to that change, laundry detergents had to be reformulated. The new versions contain enzymes and other ingredients that are highly effective even in cold water. Consumer Reports found that the re-formulated cleaners are very effective at cleaning and even removing stains in cold water. Conversely, they are actually less effective in hot water. If you need added stain removal power, the magazine suggests using a bleach alternative, like Oxi-Clean.
Of course, hot water still has its place in the laundry room. When a family member is sick, wash linens and towels in hot water with bleach to kill germs. Cloth diapers should also be washed in hot water.
Washing in cold water will save you somewhere between $25 and $200 per year in energy costs, depending on how much wash you do, and local utility rates. The average family does 400 loads per year or about 7.5 per week. (It seems like my family of six does 400 per week!) You may realize additional savings because your clothes will last longer if you don’t wash them in hot water.