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May 24, 2018  |  Login

Wash Laundry with Cold Water

Cool off to save money and harmful emissions with your washing machine.

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When it comes to washing our clothes, most of us are in a lot of hot water-literally. Washing laundry with warm or hot water requires a huge amount of energy, costing extra money and releasing global warming-causing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. According to the EPA, approximately 90% of the total energy consumed by a standard top-load washing machine goes to heating the water. The energy use per load is about that of an average passenger car driving 9 miles, or the total energy needed to produce, transport, and store a six-pack of beer. Maybe that doesn't sound like much, but when you consider that the average American household does 392 loads of laundry per year, the savings quickly add up.

Make it a personal goal to use a cold-water wash more often. Use hot and warm water judiciously. With today's advanced detergents, cold water is often just as effective as hot water, although heat is sometimes necessary for disinfection, very dirty clothing, and white fabrics. Pressing the "Cold/Cold" button on your washing machine just 80% of the time will save you between $60 and $100 per month, depending on the cost of energy in your area. Plus, you'll be saving 72 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. How's that for a really cool idea?


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  1. Chua, Jasmin Malik. "Beat the Heat, Wash in Cold." (23 March, 2008) Planet Green. Available from: [13 July, 2009]

  2. C3: Carbon Conscious Consumer. Available from: [13 July, 2009]

  3. Energy Star. "Definitions for Clothes Washer product listing column headings." Available from: [13 July, 2009]

  4. Learn, Scott. "Planet in hot water? Do your wash in cold." (February 6, 2009) The Oregonian. Available from: [13 July, 2009]

  5. United States Department of Energy. “Energy Savers Tips: Laundry.” Available from: [13 July 2009]

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