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Ways to Save Energy and Money at Home

Lower Your Energy Costs While Getting the Wash Done

Washing and drying laundry uses more energy than you may think. Not only are you running the machines, many times you are also using warm or hot water from your hot water heater. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average household does about 400 loads of laundry a year. Of those, 49 percent run with warm water, 37 percent with cold water, and 14 percent with hot. Depending on your energy source for making hot water, the average energy cost per load is about $1. It does not take long to see that this common chore provides a great opportunity to use energy more wisely and save on monthly energy bills.

Here are five ways you can reduce your energy costs while getting the wash done:

1. Use Cold Water
According to Energy Star almost 90 percent of the energy consumed by the washing process is used to heat water. You can save a lot of energy by washing your clothes in cold water. Cold-water washing also keeps colors bright, reduces wrinkling, and will not set stains. Although you may find that regular detergent is sufficient, try out cold-water detergents that are specifically formulated to work in cooler temperatures.
2. Run a Full Load
Your clothes washer will use about the same amount of mechanical energy, regardless of how full it is. If you do not run a full load, be sure to set the water level for the amount oflaundry you are running.
3. Use the Washer's Energy-Saving Settings.
Be sure to start with the appropriate wash cycle for the fabrics being laundered and do not wash for longer than needed. Some loads only need 10 minutes of washing. Avoid the excessively hot "sanitary cycle," but do choose the "high spin" option to remove more moisture at the end and cut down on drying time.
4. Look for the ENERGY STAR® Label
If you are in the market for a washing machine, get one with the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR washing machines use 37 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than regular washers.
5. Pre-Soaking
Soak heavily soiled items before washing, and rub collars or other stains with household soap. There's nothing worse than having to repeat a wash because stains didn't come out.
Source: Nebraska Public Power District and Rural Electric Nebraskan Magazine.
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