This is a post from my husband, Aaron. – Anna
One of the things our new place really needed was a washer and dryer. Because our building is so old (circa 1907) we didn’t have a traditional hook up for the washer and dryer and had to get creative. Unfortunately in this case, “creative” also meant “expensive”.
The electrical system in our building is outdated and could not support the 220 outlet required by traditional electrical dryers, which meant we had to pay approximately $100 more for a gas dryer (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – read on and you’ll find out why I say that). This also meant that we had to tap into the gas line and run piping from the stove (the nearest gas appliance) to the dryer. Being that we live in an old condo, we could not easily reconfigure the plumbing without major construction to both our unit and the unit below so the best and least expensive solution was to tap into the existing plumbing of the sink and dishwasher (luckily the water lines were accessible from the back of the wall).
Installing the washer and dryer was definitely a Frankenstein procedure with a lot of pipes and lines coming from all over the place to make it work. Long story short, the installation was a costly ordeal but something we deemed necessary (especially with a baby on the way).
Like A/C units, there are efficient ways to run your washer and dryer that can help save you money. Being that the installation was pricey, we want to re-coup some of the “operating” costs, so we sought out ways to save money when using the washer and dryer.
A couple quick notes on how we saved money on the washer and dryer units themselves:
– We bought the units over Memorial Day weekend and got the already on clearance washer and dryer at an even more reduced price because of a Memorial Day weekend sale. (Of course if we had a more traditional set-up and space we would’ve just bought a used washer and dryer from Craigslist but there, unfortunately, weren’t any listings for small, high-efficiency, stackable washers with gas dryers. We did our best to make the smartest buying decision with the limitations we had to work with.)
– We got the service warranty on the washer but not the dryer because if there is going to be a problem it will most likely happen with the washer.
– We were able to buy a highly-efficient washer and dryer. At its maximum energy use the washer runs on just 9 amps of power. That’s less energy then it takes to run a 100 watt lightbulb! Look for HE units and you’ll start ahead of the game right from the start.
– Denver Water offers a rebate on certain high-efficiency washers so we took advantage of that and made sure to get units that qualified for the rebate. The rebate is about $100 which doesn’t sound like much but it’s better than nothing and the process just involves filling out the form and sending along a copy of the receipt. (Note from Anna: I bought a washer and dryer a long time ago and the units were not on the approved rebate list. Denver Water still honored the rebate and sent me a check!)
How to Save Money on Washers and Dryers…
Saving Money on Washing Machines:
If you don’t already own a washer and dryer and are considering buying one, the best decision you can make is to get a front loading system, which we did. All your savings down the road are going to revolve around this decision. Front loaders typically use less energy (30-85%), less water (40-75%), and less detergent than traditional top-loading systems. Due to their efficiency, front loaders have shorter cycle lengths then top-loaders and have a better “spin-dry cycles” meaning more residual water is forced out of the clothes, so clothes have to spend less time in the dryer. Front loaders can be packed more tightly with clothes, which equals less loads and that equals more savings for you. Front loading washing machines also “tumble” your clothes instead of “jerking” them around with an agitator, so your clothes will last longer and with todays cheaply (and by cheaply I mean crappy) made clothes, longevity is important. Front loaders typically last longer, are more reliable, and have less maintenance issues then their top loading counter parts. Some cities even offer tax credits or rebates when you purchase a high efficacy washer (see above), so be sure to look into that since everything helps when we’re talking about offsetting the purchase price. In general, even if saving money isn’t “your thing”, front loading washing machines are way more environmentally friendly to use.
Regardless of the type of washer you own (front or top-loading) the biggest waste of energy is washing your clothes in hot water. Heating the water accounts for 90% of the energy consumption during the washing cycle. The no-brainer here is to start washing with cold water only. Hot water shrinks and fades your clothes faster than cold water does anyway! We always wash with cold water and an added bonus is that the colors won’t run in cold water so we don’t have to sort our white loads from our color loads.
If you still are an advocate of the hot water wash (maybe for sanitizing reasons?), try turning down the temperature. Some machines allow you to adjust the temperature of the water. The lower it is, the less energy it takes. You can also try doing a warm pre-soak of your clothes, than wash in cold. Also, use cold water for the rinse cycle. If you are a diehard and just love the hot water, they best thing you can do is get a front loader. Since they use about 2/3 less water, you’ll pay less to heat it up.
Depending on what you pay for utilities, simply making the switch from hot to cold washes could save you more than $150 a year!
Saving Money on Dryers:
Saving money when it comes to drying your clothes begins with washing your clothes properly. Front loaders tend to leave about 7% less water in your clothes than top loaders, which means less drying time and more money in your pocket.
Depending on where you live, natural gas can be cheaper than electricity, so if you have yet to purchase a dryer, do some research into this and consider buying a gas dryer. They are a little more expensive upfront, but use less energy and are cheaper to operate in the long run. Also be sure you can conveniently hook up to a gas source so you aren’t in the same situation we were in.
Be sure your machine has a moisture sensor. A moisture sensor will shut off your dryer automatically, so the dryer will never run longer than it has too. Dryer sheet residue tends to gunk up the sensor so be sure to clean it occasionally as well.
Always, always clean the lint trap before every load so that the air flows more freely and the dryer will dry more effectively.
Some utility companies charge more for energy consumed during peak hours. If this is the case in your area, consider doing your laundry early in the morning or at night.
The placement of your dryer can be a key to savings as well. Dryers dry with hot air. They are not ovens that bake your laundry dry. If your dryer is pulling in cool air, the more energy it will take to heat that air up. The warmer the location of the dryer, the better. A cold basement (where it seems the majority of washers and dryers are located) is the worst place for them since basements tend to be about 5 – 10 degrees colder than the main/upper floors.
Dryers account for almost 12% of electricity use and depending on your utility rates that can mean hundreds of dollars a year just to run your dryer. There is a way to drop this number down to zero and cut all cost associated with drying your clothes and that is to simply not use a dryer at all. Get a clothes line and hang them up outside and let Mother Nature do the drying for you. If you don’t have a yard or balcony (or you live in a rainy area of the country) get yourself an indoor drying rack or run a retractable clothes line. There are many varieties and systems available or get creative and make your own.
How do you save money on laundry and have you found any tips for saving money on washers and dryers?