According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), heating the water in your clothes washer accounts for 90% of the energy used when doing laundry.

As the DOE explains:

There are two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes: Use less water and use cooler water. Unless you’re dealing with oily stains, the warm- or cold-water setting on your machine will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load’s energy use in half.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Wait until you have a full load before doing laundry.
  • Avoid the super-hot Sanitary Cycle, which significantly increases energy use.
  • Activate the high-spin/extended-spin option to reduce any remaining water, which will decrease dryer time.
  • Front-loading washers use airtight seals to prevent water from leaking while the machine is in use. When the machine is not in use, this seal can trap moisture in the machine and lead to mold formation. Leave the door ajar for an hour or two after use to allow moisture to evaporate. Safety alert: Make sure children do not climb into the machine while the door is open.
  • Buy an ENERGY STAR-rated machine. (More on this tomorrow…)

For Your Organic Bookshelf: Laundry: The Home Comforts Book of Caring for Clothes and Linens