How can I do my laundry more energy efficiently?
Doing the laundry hardly fills most people with joy, but it is possible to make sure your routine doesn't force up your electricity prices and lead you to spend more than is necessary.
Some simple behavioural changes can make a big difference to your bills - and who knows, you might not find doing the laundry quite so much of a chore after all!
Choose an energy efficient appliance
No matter whether you're buying a new washing machine or tumble dryer, it can make a real difference to choose an energy efficient model.
The star system makes this easy - the higher the number of stars an appliance has, the more efficient it will be. All products are compared on a like for like basis, helping you make an informed decision while eliminating some of the guesswork.
Australia also uses the Energy Star scheme, which was first developed in the US. Products that are given this rating have met energy efficiency requirements, so you know you're buying an appliance that won't eat into your household budget.
Only wash a full load
Once you've got your hands on an ultra-efficient washing machine, it's time to take a closer look at how you use it.
While it can be tempting just to throw in a few items to get them clean and out of the way, this isn't the most efficient way to use your washer. Instead, wait until you have a full load.
This will make sure the machine doesn't have to work overtime to compensate for the lack of laundry. Under-loading on a regular basis can have a significant impact on your electricity bills - and not to mention the amount you spend on water.
Select the right cycle
One of the greatest features of modern day washers and dryers is that there are various different cycles available, so you can choose the one that's best suited to your laundry.
For example, there's not much point in washing lightly soiled laundry for hours on end. Select a shorter, cooler wash and they'll come out clean without your bills taking a hit.
The same goes for larger loads. Don't be tempted to pick a shorter cycle that might not do the job right first time, otherwise you'll only have to run it twice.
Soak stains first
If you've got particularly soiled items, it's a good idea to soak them first before putting them in the washing machine. There are plenty of products on the market that will help.
Some items cause significant staining - such as oil, red wine and coffee - so make sure you get to work on them as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage.
Choose a cooler wash
Most washing machines come with the option of a cooler wash cycle. You might be thinking to yourself this isn't likely to get your clothes as clean as you'd wanted - but you could be wrong!
Detergents these days are designed to work just as well at lower temperatures as they are higher ones, so it's worth giving it a try. Heavily soiled items or those such as towels or bedding, however, may benefit from a warmer cycle.
The higher the spin, the better
One feature of your washing machine you should take a close look at is its spin speed. The faster it spins your damp laundry, the dryer it will be.
This should reduce the amount of time it needs to spend in the tumble dryer, which is typically one of the biggest consumers of energy in your home.
Let laundry dry naturally
The best step is to avoid using a tumble dryer completely and to instead hang your clothes outside. This will ensure they stay fresh - and not to mention bring down the amount you owe your electricity supplier.
Once you've invested in a clothes line it'll do its job day in, day out. No changing filters and no keeping an eye on how much longer your cycle lasts for - it's a win-win situation!
Remove items straight away
If you do find yourself having to use a tumble dryer, it's essential you remove your laundry as soon as the cycle has ended. Many modern models will continue to rotate in order to prevent creasing.
The same goes for your washing machine. The longer items are left inside, the more creased they're likely to be, leaving you slaving over a hot iron!
Switch it off
Once your washing machine or tumble dryer has finished its cycle, make sure you switch it off completely. It can be all too easy to leave them on standby, causing you to use more electricity than is necessary.
If this is something you're likely to forget then leave yourself a note on the appliance or somewhere in the vicinity.
Posted by Tim Wolfenden