Stories & Features

10 easy ways to cut your laundry costs

Image of Rafael De Mesa's towel power
No, BC Hydro retail rep Rafael De Mesa is not doing the Canuck towel wave. He's explaining how "throwing in the towel" – a large dry towel – into the dryer can cut drying time and save money.

Hang-drying laundry, using cold water are most popular, effective

Rafael De Mesa
For bchydro.com

The cost of doing your laundry can add up quickly. Electricity cost is one thing, but purchasing laundry supplies can also eat into your budget.

We recently asked Team Power Smart members, via an online poll, which change has most help reduce their laundry energy use. And the results were encouraging:

  • Hang-drying laundry: 42%
  • Switch to cold water: 32%
  • Buying ENERGY STAR®: 13%
  • Fewer, larger, loads: 8%
  • No changes yet: 4%
  • Switch to ventless dryer: 1%

Inspired by those results, here are 10 tips for cutting your laundry costs. And most of them will also deliver the side benefit of keeping your clothes looking better, longer.

If you're a Team Power Smart member, don't forget to log into your Member Tool Box and enter May's contest to win a $150 gift card from London Drugs – enough to buy a year's supply of laundry supplies and more.  

1. Use our cost calculator tool

Seeing the cost of doing your laundry can be a good first step to making smarter energy choices. You can use the cost calculator tool to give yourself a better idea of how each load of laundry adds to your electricity bill. You can also use it to compare the approximate energy cost of using an ENERGY STAR clothes washer and dryer versus less efficient non-ENERGY STAR models.

2. Make the switch to cold water

Did you know that 90% of a clothes washer's energy use goes towards heating the water? So pat yourself on the back if you're already washing on cold. Not only are you reducing your hot water costs, but you're also ensuring that your clothes last longer since washing in cold is much gentler on fabrics. Simply changing from hot to cold water can save you about $30 a year in energy costs, if you do about 3 loads per week.

3. Do fewer loads of laundry

Only toss your clothes in the hamper when they're actually dirty, and always run full loads. A partial load will use just as much energy, so make it a habit to wait until you can fill your washer's full capacity. Even if you're already using cold water, reducing your laundry loads by one per week could save you $30 a year in energy costs.

4. Hang clothes to dry

You don't even need to go outside to do it. Invest in an affordable indoor drying rack so you can hang-dry your clothes without bothering your neighbours. Hanging four out of eight loads per week could save you $45 per year.

5. Throw a large dry towel in the dryer along with your wet load

If you absolutely need to use your dryer, try tossing a large towel in with your wet load before you start the machine. A dry towel can help reduce your drying time by 10%. This can lead to a savings of about $27 per year, if you do seven loads of laundry a week.

6. Use less detergent

Water in most parts of B.C. is very soft, meaning that you can use about half the recommended amount of laundry detergent and still keep your clothes looking and smelling fresh. In this instance, it's OK to break the rules and not follow the instructions on the packaging, because they're meant for places with harder water sources. This is especially true if you are using a high-efficiency detergent. Look for the HE label on your next trip to the grocery store.

7. Cut back on fabric softener and dryer sheets

Constantly having to buy fabric softener and dryer sheets can add to your expenses. Most front-load washers don't need fabric softener, so it's okay to stop using them altogether. As for the dryer sheets, try replacing them with dryer balls which last much longer and reduces the amount of lint on your clothes.

8. Choose an ENERGY STAR washer and dryer

If you're in the market for a new washer and dryer, always look for the ENERGY STAR logo. Yes, ENERGY STAR dryers exist, and can come in ventless and heat pump options. ENERGY STAR machines have been tested for energy-efficiency and reliability, and can save you $100 in energy costs compared to a non-ENERGY STAR machine, over the lifetime of the dryer. For a limited time, you can also take advantage of our BC Hydro rebates on qualifying ENERGY STAR appliances purchased between May 1 and June 15.

9. Take advantage of your machine's energy-efficiency options and settings

Check to see if your washer and dryer have eco or energy saving modes. These features will guarantee that your appliances are running at optimal efficiency. Use shorter cycles when washing your clothes to reduce your energy use. To avoid over-drying and using unnecessary energy, also make sure that your dryer's moisture sensor setting is on.

10. Clean your washer and dryer regularly

Following the manufacturer's maintenance instructions can go a long way in making sure your washer and dryer are working efficiently. Run your washing machine's cleaning cycle to avoid mildew build up and bad smells. In addition, clean the lint trap of your dryer to ensure proper airflow. Besides keeping your washer and dryer working efficiently, regular maintenance can also help prevent your machines from breaking down and being needed to be replaced earlier than expected.

Rafael De Mesa is a member of BC Hydro's retail team.