How to Save Money on Your Laundry

Article Summary:

In order to save money on washing your clothes, you can take the following actions

  • Replace an electric dryer with a gas dryer ($40 to $80 annual savings)
  • Replace an electric water heater with a gas water heater ($100 annual savings)
  • Replace a standard clothes washer with a high efficiency model ($32 annual savings)
  • Use cold water to wash all of your clothes ($7 to $30 annual savings)
  • Air dry your clothes instead of using a machine dryer ($85 to $120 annual savings)
  • Live in an area with lower energy costs ($30 to $200 annual savings)
  • Buy generic detergent in bulk at a warehouse store ($25 annual savings)
  • Clean the lint trap regularly ($34 annual savings)
  • Only wash full loads of laundry (no partial loads)

Below is a summary how much your laundry costs can vary:

Full Article:

The cost of doing your laundry can vary a lot depending on the choices you make.  We will step through the different choices that determine the amount of your weekly laundry costs and discuss where you can save money.

Choose a Gas Dryer over an Electric Dryer

Dryer Type Annual Energy Cost
Electric Dryer $115
Gas Dryer $75

Average Savings: $40

  • In most areas, gas is a lot cheaper than electric.  Therefore, having a gas dryer can lead to savings by reducing your energy costs.
    • According to the Consumer Energy Center, the cost per load is:
    • The average family does six loads of laundry per week, which translates to a cost of:
      • $100 to $130 per year for an electric dryer
      • $50 to $100 per year for a gas dryer
        • Therefore you could save $40 to $80 a year by switching to a gas dryer (depending on the energy costs in your area)
  • Another benefit of a gas dryer is that it protects clothes better than an electric dryer.  Gas dryers run at a high temperature, which dries your clothes faster.  This results in clothes being tumbled in the dryer for a shorter period of time, which reduces the wear and tear on your clothing.
  • Before switching to a gas dryer, check the utility prices in your area to make sure gas is cheaper than electricity.  There are some areas where electricity is less expensive than gas.
  • One drawback of gas dryers: they are usually about $50 more expensive than electric dryers at initial purchase.

Replace an Electric Water Heater with a Gas Water Heater

Water Heater Type Annual Energy Cost
Electric Water Heater $300
Gas Water Heater $200

Average Savings: $100

  • The city of Statesboro in Georgia ran tests to compare the cost of running a gas water heater and electric water heater. They found a gas water heater saved a family of four $100 per year.
    • Note: This savings estimate includes the cost of heating water for laundry in addition to other water heating costs (such as for showers).
    • The Consumer Energy Center estimates that a gas water heater can save a family of four $20 per year on energy costs associated with heating water for laundry.
  • Water heaters can be expensive to replace.  Unit purchase, installation, and transportation can cost anywhere from $1000-$6000.  Therefore it may not be worth it to replace your water heater just to save on annual energy costs.

Replace a Standard Washer with a High Efficiency Washer

Washer Type Annual Water Cost
Standard Washer $37.50
High Efficiency Washer $18.75

Average Savings: $19

  • Standard clothes washers use about 30 gallons per load
    • At $0.004 per gallon, this equates to 12 cents per load.
      • For a family that does six loads per week, this is an annual water cost of $37.50.
  • High efficiency washers use about 15 gallons per load
    • At $0.004 per gallon, this equates to 6 cents per load.
      • For a family that does six loads per week, this is an annual water cost of $18.75.
  • By using a high efficiency washer, the average U.S. family saves $19 per year in water costs.
  • High efficiency washers also protect clothes better than standard washers.
    • Standard washers use more force to wash clothes which causes additional damage compared to a high-efficiency washer.
  • High efficiency washers also cost less in energy costs since they require less overall water (and less hot water)
    • See next section

Use cold water to wash your clothes

Annual Energy Cost
Standard Electric Warm $36
Standard Gas Warm $16
High Efficiency Electric Warm $10
High Efficiency Gas Warm $8
Standard Electric Cold $4
Standard Gas Cold $2
High Efficiency Electric Cold $1
High Efficiency Gas Cold $1

Average Savings: $7 to $32

  • According to the Consumer Energy Center, water heating consumes about 90% of the energy required to operate a washing machine.
  • We surveyed the energy costs for the commonly purchased washing machines and found the following cost estimates:
    • Standard Washer with Electric Water Heater: $36 annual energy cost
    • Standard Washer with Gas Water Heater: $16 annual energy cost
    • High Efficiency Washer with Electric Water Heater: $10 annual energy cost
    • High Efficiency Washer with Gas Water Heater: $8 annual energy cost
  • If you eliminate 90% of these costs from using only cold water, then you can save anywhere from $7-$32 per year.
  • With advances in washing machine technology and detergents, cold water is sufficient to clean clothes
    • However, you may want to still use warm or hot water to clean very dirty or smelly clothes
    • You should experiment with washing everything in cold water and find which soiled clothes need warm water washing

Air dry your clothes instead of using a machine dryer

Drying Method Annual Total Cost
Electric Dryer with Dryer Sheets $120
Gas Dryer with Dryer Sheets $85
Air Drying $0

Average Savings: $85 to $120

  • Unfortunately there isn’t much of a difference between the energy used by different dryers, so you cannot buy a dryer that is much more energy efficient than others.
  • The best way to save money on your drying expenses is to hang dry your clothes
    • Using average U.S. utility costs:
      • A gas dryer costs $0.24 per load (or $75 per year assuming six loads per week)
      • An electric dryer costs $0.35 per load (or $110 per year assuming six loads per week)
    • If you use a dryer, you probably also use dryer sheets, which cost approximately $0.03 each (or about $10 per year assuming six loads per week)
    • Eliminating the expenses associated with running a dryer and using dryer sheets saves the average family $85 to $120 per year
  • It is recommended to dry your clothes on a clothesline outside in the sun
    • If drying your clothes outside is not an option, then drying them inside can be okay if you do not live in a humid climate and can open your windows.

Live in an Area with Low Energy Costs

State Gas Appliances
Laundry Cost
Hawaii $394
Florida $158
Arizona $143
Maine $140
New Hampshire $135
Rhode Island $126
Vermont $122
Alabama $121
Massachusetts $120
Georgia $120
Connecticut $117
Delaware $110
District of Columbia $108
South Carolina $105
New York $104
Maryland $101
Virginia $100
North Carolina $99
Pennsylvania $98
Oregon $97
California $95
Nevada $95
Texas $93
U.S. Average $91
Louisiana $90
Missouri $90
Kentucky $88
Kansas $88
Washington $88
Wisconsin $87
Arkansas $86
West Virginia $85
Ohio $84
New Mexico $84
Tennessee $84
Oklahoma $84
Iowa $83
Minnesota $82
New Jersey $80
Illinois $80
Mississippi $79
Utah $79
Wyoming $77
Michigan $77
South Dakota $77
Alaska $76
Montana $76
Indiana $75
Colorado $74
North Dakota $73
Nebraska $73
Idaho $71
State Electric Appliances
Laundry Cost
Hawaii $315
Alaska $244
Connecticut $240
Rhode Island $214
Massachusetts $212
New Hampshire $208
California $208
New York $205
Vermont $202
New Jersey $184
Maine $184
Michigan $176
Wisconsin $171
Maryland $168
Pennsylvania $161
Delaware $156
Iowa $156
Kansas $153
District of Columbia $147
Minnesota $147
U.S. Average $146
South Carolina $145
Missouri $144
Colorado $144
Arizona $144
Ohio $143
Illinois $140
Georgia $140
Virginia $140
New Mexico $140
Alabama $139
South Dakota $137
Nebraska $136
Wyoming $135
Montana $133
Utah $132
Nevada $131
North Dakota $131
Indiana $130
West Virginia $128
North Carolina $128
Texas $127
Florida $127
Oregon $124
Mississippi $122
Tennessee $119
Kentucky $118
Arkansas $118
Idaho $116
Oklahoma $115
Washington $110
Louisiana $103

Possible Savings: $30 to $200

  • The cost of electricity varies across different regions
    • U.S. Average: 12.7 cents per Kilowatthour
    • Louisiana (lowest cost): 8.96 cents per Kilowatthour
    • Connecticut (highest cost in contiguous U.S.): 20.96 cents per Kilowatthour
    • Hawaii (highest cost in U.S.): 27.50 cents per Kilowatthour
  • The cost of natural gas varies across different regions
    • U.S. Average: $10.97 per cubic foot
    • Idaho (lowest cost): $8.54 per cubic foot
    • Florida (highest cost in contiguous U.S.): $19.02 per cubic foot
    • Hawaii (highest cost in U.S.): $47.51 per cubic foot
  • You can’t always control where you live, but be aware that energy costs could be very high or very low.
    • If energy costs are high in your area, you should prioritize saving energy as a way to potentially save money.

Buy Detergent in Bulk at a Warehouse Store

Detergent Annual Cost
Name Brand from Grocery Store $60
Generic Brand from Warehouse Store $35

Average Savings: $25

  • We analyzed the price of detergent in our local stores:
    • The name brand detergent from the grocery store cost about 19 cents per load
      • If you assume six loads per week, you spend $60 annually
    • The generic brand detergent from the warehouse store cost about 11.70 cents per load
      • If you assume six loads per week, you spend $35 annually

Other Laundry Trips

  • Only wash full loads of laundry (instead of partial loads)
    • Although your washer (and dryer) may have settings for washing partial loads, it is less efficient to wash partial loads.
      • More water and energy is used to wash partial loads
  • Clean the lint trap regularly ($34 annual savings)
    • Dryers work by moving hot air through clothes and letting moisture evaporate
    • If a lint trap is blocked, less air and moisture is able to escape from the dryer, and therefore it takes longer to dry clothes
      • The Consumer Energy estimates that cleaning the lint trap regularly can save you up to $34 each year

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