Clean Savings

The washing of clothes is a time-honored tradition stretching back to ancient agrarian societies.  If you go to Italy today there are still remnants of communal clothes washing areas.  And placed above these areas are inscriptions that strike our modern sensibilities as comical if not misogynistic as they warn passersby that if “they distract the washing women they will be fined.”

Today in America even a child of 13 washes his or her clothes and sometimes it’s difficult to think of it as an energy waster.  But if you’re not careful, the bill can add up quickly.  Michael Bluejay a writer and an activist has informed my research regarding the prices associated with washing our clothes and for a later blog about drying them.

To begin, according to his research the modern American top-loading washing machine uses about .256 kWh per load while the national average cost of electricity runs at about 11 cents per kWh.  This means that for electricity one may pay about 3 cents a load plus the price of water, which is generally around 11 cents per load, bringing the grand total to 14 cents. (*Note* PGE charges about 9 cents per kWh) 

Although this may not seem like much, one needs to understand that this is the base operation cost and that costs such as heating up the water can exponentially increase the amount you’ll pay in your energy bill.  For example, if you use Hot/Hot for every load, then according to these figures you’re paying about 70 cents a load.  If you then multiple this number by eight (the number of loads done per week by a typical American family) then multiply that number by 52 (for the number of weeks in a year) you’re looking at a difference of about 250 dollars a year!

Front loading washers are much better savers.  They use less water and less energy.  Unlike top loading washers they generally have an energy star rating and even leave clothes dryer when they’re finished which saves on drying costs.

The take home message?  If you want to save money (and the earth) scrap the old top-loader, buy a front-loading washing machine and wash your clothes on Cold/Cold.  In the long run it will save you hundreds of dollars in water and electricity.

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