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Ways to conserve in the laundry room

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

A little conservation love for your laundry

Conservation is about more than just saving money on your energy bills; it's about preserving and maintaining the resources you have available to you. You can start in the laundry room, saving water, gas, electricity... and your clothes.

woman doing laundry in a blue room

Check out your appliances

If you've been using your parent's avocado-colored washing machine for the last 20 years, chances are you won't see an Energy Star seal within a 10-foot radius of the thing. It's going to cost a little money up front, but when you replace old washers and dryers with Energy Star appliances, you can reduce water usage by up to 50 percent while also reducing electricity and natural gas. According to Energy Star, if every American purchasing a washer this year chose an Energy Star appliance, the country would save 790 million kilowatts of electricity, 32 billion gallons of water and 2 trillion BTUs of natural gas. That's a lot of energy savings!

Test your conservation smarts >>

Wash smart

Whether you have an Energy Star appliance or not, you need to take steps to conserve energy when doing your laundry. Simple changes, such as waiting until you have a full load before running the washer and washing clothing in cold water, can really pay off. Energy Star points out that 90 percent of the energy it takes to run the washing machine comes from heating the water. If you cringe a little at washing your duds in cold suds, pick up a laundry detergent such as Tide Coldwater to do the dirty work. Tide Coldwater gives you a brilliant clean at lower temperatures.

3 Ways to conserve in the kitchen >>

Make over your drying routine

Dryers are certainly convenient, but people got by without them for a long, long time. Ask yourself if you have what it takes to ditch the dryer altogether and dry your clothes on a drying rack or clothesline. You'll save energy and money, and your clothes will retain their color and feel softer for longer.

Admittedly, doing away with the dryer isn't doable for everyone. If you just can't part ways, make over your routine with the following tips:

  • If you have a relatively new Energy Star appliance, turn the moisture sensor on. This sensor will be able to tell when your clothes are completely dry and automatically shut down the machine.
  • Avoid overstuffing the dryer; that reduces airflow and takes longer for clothes to dry.
  • If you have to run the dryer cycle more than once to dry your clothes, consider using the dryer for a single cycle before hanging clothing up to dry. It's not quite as good as line drying them completely, but it's definitely a first step.
  • Clean the lint screen after every load. Lint buildup can hinder airflow, forcing your dryer to work harder and use more energy.

How sustainable is your lifestyle? >>

In an apartment...

If you're one of the 32 million Americans who live in apartment complexes, use the common-area laundry room whenever possible. According to Laundrywise, in-unit laundry washers use an average of 11,810 gallons of water each year, while common-area laundry rooms use an average of 3,595 gallons annually per apartment. Electricity and gas savings are also approximately five times higher when common-area laundry rooms are used. This is primarily because people do larger, more efficient loads in common-area laundry rooms than they do when using an in-unit machine.

More conservation

Bathroom water use: How to really reduce it
Sustainability made simple: Ways to start at home
Conservation keys: What really matters

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