When it comes to washing and drying our clothes, striking the right balance between cutting costs, conserving energy, and saving the planet can be difficult.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, being energy-efficient at the home has become even more important now that our way life has changed significantly.
Ultimately, being confined to our homes for longer periods of time has led to an increase in demand of our household appliances causing our utility bills to rise more than usual.
With more of us staying at home using more energy than usual and people having to self-isolate, it has become increasingly important to avoid unnecessary spikes in energy to ensure a steady stream of energy use across the UK.
The second part of our energy saving series focuses on how changing your laundry habits using your washing machine and tumble dryer can help you save money.
How to use your washing machine more efficiently
Washing machines are one of the core home appliances known to consume quite a bit of energy. In fact, research tells us that the average UK usage is approximately 270 wash loads per year.
It may come as a surprise to learn that approximately 95% of the energy used by your washing machine is used just to heat up the water. That's a lot of energy!
Sounds like a challenge and yet you can still save money and actively save the planet.
Let’s explore our washing machine energy saving tips in more detail.
Washing clothes at 30 degrees
Washing your clothes at 30 degrees instead of 40 degrees uses up to 38% less energy so not only are you saving on utility costs but you’re also doing your part to lift the strain on our national energy supply.
One of the big wins here is that you can instantly cater for two other environmental concerns — saving water and heat.
Of course, different materials and stains warrant a higher temperature wash. However, washing clothes at 30 degrees is often the recommended setting for several types of clothes, such as wool and silk, and with the right detergent, can work perfectly well for other fabrics.
Not to mention that washing at a lower temperature is as a good way to keep colours intact. So, not only are you cutting costs and saving the planet, but you are also avoiding future catastrophes to your favourite colour-dyed t-shirt!
Top-tip: try to wash clothes with a high-speed spin — this allows your clothes to be as dry as possible before placing it into the tumble dryer. More on this a little later.
Loading your washing machine correctly
Believe it or not, filling up your washing machine does help conserve energy. It simply limits the need to carry out two or even three washes at a go. However, striking a balance is needed here.
By that we mean you should avoid overloading your machine. Overloading will not only cause the detergent to stain your clothes but it will impact washing efficiency and inevitably damage your machine’s drum.
This will only lead you having to do yet another wash, putting unnecessary pressure on the energy grid.
Top-tip: to avoid unnecessary overloading, place your hand into the top of your machine drum — if you can't do this, then you know to remove some clothing.
Try to avoid pre-washing
Typically, the pre-wash setting on your machine is used to tackle some of those heavy, stubborn stains that we've all had the pleasure of experiencing at some point.
As you can imagine, people in the UK use billions of litres of hot water each year just by using the pre-wash cycle setting, which wastes our precious water resource and your money!
Nowadays, energy efficient washing machines and detergents have become so technologically advanced that the need to use a pre-wash setting simply no longer needed.
Use eco-friendly detergents
It’s easy to go for a quick and cheap option but did you know that many of these detergents are filled with chemicals that are doing more harm than good?
Introducing the right eco product to your weekly wash will ensure you’re doing your bit to benefit marine life and the environment.
Top-tip: remember to the check the detergent packaging to ensure you recycle or reuse any packaging — yet another quick but simple win for the planet!
How to use your tumble dryer more efficiently
Alongside the washing machine is another culprit of big energy use — the tumble dryer.
Typically, the summer months are great at lending us a hand in saving energy and money, but winter poses different challenges entirely and requires us to consider the following energy saving tips.
Whether you choose to position the tumble dryer in the kitchen or utility room, the number one rule is ensuring that the room is well ventilated and ideally located near a window. A poorly ventilated room will only cause your dryer to work harder. And a tumble dryer that has to work harder will only eat into your energy bill more.
Separate your washing
We have all been guilty at grabbing the clothes off the clotheshorse and throwing them into the dryer, particularly when we are in a rush. However, doing so will most likely result in clothes becoming tangled. To no surprise, this means drying will take longer, and leads to yet more unnecessary energy use.
Top-tip: when you’re drying duvet covers be sure to button them up — this will prevent any small clothing from becoming trapped inside. No one wants stray, damp socks!
Dry similar fabrics together
Another good but simple energy saving tip is to dry similar fabrics together. Drying heavy clothing with light items means your clothes will take much longer to dry. So, next time think twice about combining heavy towels with your t-shirts — the planet will thank you for it.
Clean the filters
Whilst it may seem like an inconvenience, regularly cleaning the filter not only prevents a build-up of fluff but also ensures your machine doesn’t have to work extra hard to dry your clothes. As we’ve already seen, if the machine is having to work harder, it’s energy down the drain!
Like any appliance, it’s common for tumble dryers to encounter faults from time to time. Frequently checking the outside vent for dust and dirt is another step towards ensuring dryer efficiency, helping the planet and your wallet!
Regular tumble dryer maintenance and repairs can save you money in the long run.
How can I help more?
We’re glad you asked! It’s safe to say that our choices on using energy have a direct impact on our planets natural systems. With that, saving the planet requires a collective effort — not just from our governments and leading corporations but also as individuals.
Given the disruption of COVID-19, that collective effort has become more amplified and requires us all more than ever to pull together to help our planet.
If you want to make a real difference, why not put some of these tips in to practice and even go as far educating others such as family, children, friends, and neighbours.
Alternatively, if you're actively in the market to upgrading your washing machine and/or tumble dryer, be sure to get yourself an energy efficient appliance that won't eat up your electricity and utility bill.
For reassurance, you can check the product’s energy rating — this will give you an indication into the machine’s energy use with ratings above C considered to be good purchases.
Either way, making a few simple and easy changes to some of our daily habits will inevitably benefit the future and our wallets!