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Wash clothes in cold water to save $150/year
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Washing clothes in cold water is a huge money saver. Almost 90% of the energy used to clean clothes goes towards heating the water. This is a simple tip to remember each time you do a load of laundry, and an immediate cost saver.
The average American household does about 8 loads of laundry a week, or 400 over the course of a year. You can save 35-40¢ per load on energy costs by switching to cold water, which means you'll save $150 on your energy bill every year.
Except for the worst stains (like grease), cold water will do a good job of cleaning your clothes, and even better if you use liquid detergents specifically designed for cold water. You can still use powder detergents, just dissolve them first in the water before you add in your clothes.
If you need a little extra boost to fight stains once in a while, or if your clothes REQUIRE washing in hot or warm, then at least dial it down to warm: you'll still save 50% on energy costs versus using hot water. Either way, never bother rinsing in anything but cold water; rinsing in hot or warm gives you no additional cleaning benefit and is just a pure energy waste. Keep in mind that most clothes MAY be washed in warm or hot, per the clothing label, but don't actually require it, so stick with cold!
As an illustration of the potential cost savings, check out these cost estimates from Michael Bluejay aka Mr. Electricity. They're all based on an assumption of electric water heating @ 15¢/kWh cost (you can also find them on Mr. Electricity's website as part of his great article, How Much Does it Cost to Run a Washing Machine):
Wash/Rinse Setting: cost per load (not including detergent or water costs)