December 2012: Laundry
Washing and drying clothes can contribute to one to two-thirds of a home’s baseload in many all-electric homes, second only to water heating and refrigeration. This is almost certainly true in a family of four or five which do laundry several times a week. Current thinking in our society does not encourage reuse and repair of appliances, and it is generally believed that when the cost of repairing an appliance exceeds approximately 1/3 of the cost to purchase, it probably makes financial sense to purchase new appliances.
The dryer and its corresponding drying time consumes close to 80% of the energy in the overall laundry cycle. So how can a family minimize drying time? Having an energy efficient horizontal-axis washer will not only use 50-60% less water, but it will also cut the drying time by close to 75%. They can even be programmed for an additional spin cycle. They use special HE detergent, and contrary to popular belief, clothes will come out just as clean in cold water. Not only that, but fabrics retain colors better and don’t break down as fast.
Dryers sometimes have a moisture sensing mode which will help to not over-extend the drying times. Having a short-as-possible cycle on the metal or metalized vent with the least amount of turns will aid also. Upgrading the exterior closure unit will help, as will regularly cleaning the filter/vent from lint build-up. Drying balls may reduce drying time, but probably the best advice is to dry like material (towels with towels) and not overload the dryer.