What About the Laundry Room?

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

The laundry room can be a big consumer of energy—more than 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year—and water—and a big producer of unwanted heat and humidity in summer. It makes good sense to think about both the location and the appliances in it if you want to run an energy-efficient laundry.

About 80 to 85 percent of the energy used for washing clothes is used to heat the water. To reduce this cost, use less water: wash full loads and use cooler water and cold-water detergents. Cut a washer load’s energy use in half by using warm rather than hot water. Unlike dishwashers, clothes washers don’t require a minimum temperature for optimum cleaning.

You can reduce your water heating costs by simply lowering the thermostat setting on your water heater. For each 10ºF reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3%-5% in energy costs. Consult your water heater owner’s manual for instructions on how to operate the thermostat.

Although some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140ºF, most households usually only require them set at 120ºF. Water heated at 140ºF also poses a potential for scalding. However, if you have a dishwasher without a booster heater, it may require a water temperature within a range of 130ºF to 140ºF for optimum cleaning.

For more information on how to control what you spend in the laundry room go to Cooperative Extension’s E-Conservation website at http://energy-conservation.org/html/consumers.htm

Eleanor Summers
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences