Although I don’t long for the days of beating clothes against a rock in the river, I do think it would be prudent for us to practice more conscientious laundry methods. In terms of water usage, a washing machine uses 40-80 gallons of water per load; in terms of power, a clothes dryer uses 1800 to 5000 kilowatts. According to laundrylist.org, if all Americans would use the clothesline or wooden drying racks, the savings would be enough to close several power plants. Add to that the maelstrom of synthetic fragrance and other assorted toxic chemicals from laundry products entering the waste stream and our affecting our indoor air quality, and it seems obvious that the culture of laundry is in need of a green makeover. What can you do to help? Following is a collection of simple, smart tips for reducing water usage, conserving energy, and promoting a toxic-free environment.
The use of electricity- and water-usage varies from machine to machine, but is also affected by the way the machine is used. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, about 70 to 90 percent of the energy used by a washing machine goes towards heating the water, so washers that use less hot water also use less energy.
Many of today’s conventional washing machines use about 40 gallons of water for a complete wash cycle. Large capacity resource-efficient models use less than 25 gallons per cycle; small and medium-sized models may even use less than 10. All front loaders and many of the higher-efficiency top-loaders feature advanced electronic controls to adjust the water level automatically according to the size of the load. For a given temperature cycle, energy use is almost directly proportional to hot water use. The lowest setting may use just half as much water as the highest.
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