23 Feb

Save Money – Washing Clothes in Cold Water

Posted by Norman F

clorox Greenworks natural laundry detergent

Saving Money and Energy by Washing Clothes in Cold Water

We use Seventh Generation laundry detergent (Great for those with sensitive skin or allergies) in our washer and noticed that the box suggested saving energy by using cold water for washing all clothes. US Dept of Energy calculates that 90% of energy used in washing clothes goes toward heating the water. Save up to $60 a year by using cold water. If 70% of US households washed their  clothes in cold water, we could provide energy 4.4 million households. In 2012 it was estimated that approximately 40% of homes washed their clothes cold water.

In the old days, you would not think about doing this, but with modern washing machines and improved detergent formulations, it is now feasible to only use cold water to wash clothes.

The Seventh Generation FAQ’s do state that amount of sudsing is affected by temperature though.  You might have to use warm water for those pesky stains like those from oil. So check your laundry detergent’s label to see if it is compatible with mostly cold water washing.

We have been using cold water washing for a year now and can recommend it highly. The results are good and we noticed a nice savings on our bill.

Make sure you do full loads of laundry. Use the Moisture-sensing option if available. Save 5% or around $60 on your electric bill by conserving.

Amazon has discounts and free shipping on Seventh Generation products. Seventh generation has started to sell concentrated liquid detergent in a new cardboard bottle that is fully recyclable, including the inner plastic pouch.

Cold Water Washing Caveat – Synthetics

Some feel that workout odors are not completely removed with cold water washing. Try to do a cold water pre-rinse on these clothes, roughly 20 minutes after working out, then do the usual cold water washing.

Saving energy in the Dryer

Save energy in your dryer by using the sensor dry option if your dryer has one.  Also try avoid using fluffy towels as they take longer to dry.  Waffle towels are thinner and will save you money. Be sure to clean out the lint trap after each load.  Using clothes line to dry clothes helps even more.

If your Clothes Washer was made before 1994, a new high efficiency one will use about half the energy. Energy Rebates are available with a new washer or dryer.

Be sure to read our article: Ways to Save Energy, Money on your Energy Bill

Green Electrolux Laundry Set

The new Green Electrolux Laundry Set is advertised as an eco friendly, environmentally conscious appliance. It takes only 18 minutes to wash, 18 to dry. Large 4.8 cu ft washer and 8cu ft dryer. They claim it is 75% more energy efficient and uses 56% less water. They even have green tips on their website.

As part of “eating its own dog food”, Electrolux committed to reduce total energy consumption at factories and facilities by 15% by the end of 2009.

Remember that it takes a lot of carbon emissions to build the unit, so to be most green, replace an appliance only when your current one is literally broken beyond a reasonably priced repair.

Organic Cotton

Creative Commons License photo credit: Fujoshi

Organic cotton is supposed to be preferable because it is grown without pesticides and are not genetically modified. It makes up less than 1% of total cotton production, so it is expensive. To be certified it must grow in soil that has been free of chemicals for 3 years. Cotton production normally uses a lot of pesticides.

I noticed some clothes being advertised as having organic cotton, so I decided to look into it.

The major issues are of course price, what % of the clothes is organic, and whether dyes used to color fabric may contain toxic substances. Be sure to check all 3 factors.

Also look for Öko-Tex (which sounds like echo-tex) certified clothes. It is a European ecological certification process that tests garments for over 100 harmful substances. In order for a garment to be certified, every fabric, button, thread and zipper is tested for over 100 potentially harmful substances.

Coconut and bamboo based towels

The eco or green trend has extended itself to towels. Bamboo fabric has been marketed as having anti bacterial qualities. The problem is that these properties do not survive the process when they are converted to rayon.

Activated carbon derived from recycled coconut shells has been used in Yoga towels. The carbon absorbs moisture and dries faster, supposedly. Dry fabric will have less bacteria.

Tencel is a material made from the fibers of the Eucalyptus tree. It is used in clothes and towels. The structures of its fibers make it difficult for bacteria to grow. It is also good at preventing odors. Some studies have found that it is also good at blocking dust mites.

Green Washing

Wall Street Journal has a good article on green marketing designed to sell appliances and water saving devices.

Paying $1300 for a new washing machine, which would result in a $90 a year operating expense savings does not make good economic sense. Kohler has water saving shower heads, faucets, and toilets that cost significantly less and have a faster payback. You can spend $150 and save $75 a year in water costs.

It is great they are quantifying how much the exact savings is, but as you can see it costs a lot of money to save some. Our advice is to switch to new efficient appliance when your old ones break down or when you were going to anyway, while doing remodeling.

With water conserving devices it is a slightly more gray area, with droughts hitting our area. Definitely upgrade when the your device is busted and when remodeling. Adding faucet aerators ($2) will be a lot cheaper than changing a faucet. Low flow shower heads (1.2-1.5 gallons/minute) are pretty inexpensive. ($15+)

Do you have any other tips for saving money while doing your laundry?

Posted on February 23rd, 2015
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5 Responses to “Save Money – Washing Clothes in Cold Water”

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