How to actually be “Energy Efficient” in your laundry room

Energy EfficiancyCoin Meter gives tips on how to make an impact on the energy you’re saving in the laundry room.

It’s a natural inclination to begin this conversation with the machine itself. In order to be a qualified “Energy Efficient” machine, it will use less electricity and water.  In general, the newer a machine is, it’s more likely to be more energy efficient. That’s because manufacturers are constantly improving the efficiency over time, due to increased consumer demand. However, there are many more factors that are important to consider.  So don’t assume, just because you have a brand new “Energy Efficient” machine, that you’re doing your part for the earth.

The biggest debate over the years, in regards to energy efficient machines, has been between front-loading and top-loading washers. Determining which one is more energy efficient can be a challenge!

Front-Loaders

Front-Loading machines usually win the debate as the most energy efficient. The reason for this is because the horizontal tub rotates the wash so that, in theory, it doesn’t need to be fully submerged to get clean.

However, the test-labs for energy efficient machines typically evaluate front loading machines with no detergent.  This is done to get the results they are looking for, with numbers that show they qualify as efficient.  But often when those machines are actually placed in service, the original numbers are often never achieved due to improper load sizes, mixed fabric loads, too much detergent, or the wrong kind of detergent.

For this reason, front loading washers may not be as good for your situation or laundry facility – it just depends. Coin Meter does use a number of them, especially with ADA and other unique onsite requirements. We advise our clients and place machines based on individual needs and factors of each property.

Top-Loaders

Front-loaders are generally more energy efficient than top-loaders – when used right. However, it can really vary depending upon the make and model. And the savings in water is pretty minor – about $6.00 per month on average when used correctly. People are often surprised to hear that many of the newer top loading models use less water and spin faster, are more forgiving to user mistakes, and are usually less expensive too!

But the type of machine is only part of story! HOW you wash and dry your laundry can make an even bigger impact on how much energy you’re truly saving. Here are some effective ways to make a positive impact on the environment when doing laundry:

Put your clothes on a shorter cycle. Most loads don’t need the full run, and the water and electricity saved over time is huge!

Don’t save the cold water for your showers! You probably don’t need warm or hot water, except for your sheets and underwear, unless you have unusually dirty laundry.

Soak any stained items ahead of time. This saves you from having to use longer cycles or washing more than once.

Decrease your detergent. Because energy efficient machines use less water, this means you also need less detergent! Bottom line, use less (a lot less!) than you think you do.

Keep an eye on your dry time. You usually have a set amount of time with coin machines.  This is the amount of time an average cycle takes to dry – but you may not have to use it all, or you may need a few minutes more. Check on your load halfway through and with 5 minute remaining to see if you can pull the load and cut electricity before your time’s up, or if you need to top off the cycle with another 10-15 minutes.  Just be careful what you touch, dryers get hot (165 degrees), so metal buttons and zippers can burn you.

Don’t overload.  Overloading doesn’t allow the machine to wash your load correctly, either causing you to have to wash the clothes again, or dry them on a second cycle. It’s better to err on a smaller load size.

Use energy efficient detergent. And read the directions! Use the amount the manufacturer suggests – or less. The washers are getting smart, so if they sense an over loaded cycle – or one with too much soap – the machine controls will add more water and time to try to recover from this mistake. When the cycle ends, you get very wet, and possibly soapy, clothes that should be washed again.  For that reason, this is one of the most significant things you can do to keep your machines running efficiently.

These simple actions and habits are the key to real energy saving in the laundry room, so we encourage you to consider posting these tips in your facility’s laundry room to promote low energy use. It will save earth resources… and save you and your residents money!